Aldon Hynes's blog
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After I finish writing this blog post, I will head off to bed to try to get some last minute sleep before the countdown to Falcon Ridge. Tomorrow, I’ll try to wrap up as many tasks as possible. To my Ingress playing friends, I’ll try to gather Power Cubes so I can keep my portals charged while I’m away. To my work friends, I have to finish a video tomorrow. To my church friends, I hope to see you at the faith study group tomorrow evening.
Then, Wednesday morning, I’ll get up, throw the essentials in the car and drive up to Falcon Ridge. I hope to get there around lunch time, and then sit in line however long it takes before I can head up and set up camp. If it is soon enough, I will try to get to the local swimming hole. Later, I will probably eat nuts and dried fruit and then sleep.
Thursday, we’ll see what the weather is like and when other people are arriving. I’ll probably take another trip to the swimming hole.
As I work on this blog post, I talk with Kim about what we’ll do for food and shade.
This evening, I attended a Poetry Conference and Cookout at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Britain. There were about a dozen people there and they shared some truly wonderful poetry. At times, I feel pleased with the way my writing is going. At other times, I listen to other writers and feel I have so much work to do. This evening, I came away thinking about how much work I have to do.
My mind goes to the confession of sin, about thought, word, and deed. I have not polished my words the way I should. I have not put them together are meaningfully, as carefully, as I should.
Even as I write my daily blog post, I find myself struggling for words. I find myself searching the web for ideas. But it is late, and I am tired, so I should heave off to bed.
On Facebook this morning, The Rev. Shelley Best asked the questions, “I'm not sure why this documentary was so controversial? Is talking about whiteness as difficult as this documentary says it is?”
I’ve missed the controversy, so I watched the first few minutes of the documentary, and skimmed a few articles about it. The first I came to was, Why White People Should Not Watch the MTV Documentary White People.
Willa Paskin writes, “I think this is a pretty great idea for a documentary that was a little too remedial with and gentle on, well, white people.” Later, she says, ‘Vargas approached the material as though he imagined he were speaking to white people who had thought about race almost not at all”.
Perhaps Slate’s television critic lives in a world where white people have been thinking about race, where white people say Sandra Bland’s name, where people understand the politics behind the difference between #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter.
However, I find Vargas’ view of the world much more realistic. I work in a world focused on cultural competency and addressing health disparities, but when I go home at night, when I go to Church on Sunday, when I ran for State Representative, I did all of that in a world much closer to the world Vargas sees.
Erica Williams Simon had a different take on the documentary in her article in Upworthy, MTV decided to make a bunch of white kids talk about whiteness. And it may have helped them
She commented about Vargas responded to certain people talking negatively about “minorities”. “The gentleness and ease of it all disturbed me.” Yet later, when she described reactions to the documentary, such as when “a 19-year-old white college freshman who said her school is extremely racially segregated, earnestly asked, ‘How can I join conversations about race at school and on Facebook and say what I think without silencing other important voices?’”
She ends off with “If, with all that in mind, it takes MTV, an empathetic journalist, and the right amount of gentle awkwardness to give them a peek into the reality of whiteness, it just might be an all right place to start.”
In a similar vein, Spencer Kornhaber’s article in The Atlantic, White People 101 has, “MTV’s documentary points out some facts about race that might seem obvious until you realize that for many Americans they’re not.”
So, let me go back to Shelley’s question, “Is talking about whiteness as difficult as this documentary says it is?” I’m not sure that Vargas’ ultimate goal is to talk about whiteness, it is to address racism. So, rephrasing Shelley’s question, “Is talking about addressing racism as difficult as this documentary says it is?”
It struck me that perhaps talking about addressing racism is similar to talking with kids about sex. I remember in high school classmates, talking about sex would say, everyone’s talking about it, but nobody is doing it. It was probably a truism which the few sexually active students in my school rolled their eyes at, but everyone else knew was pretty true.
When you get right down to it, talking about sexuality with kids can be daunting. You can be afraid to say something embarrassing, something wrong, you may be afraid to admit your own sexual inadequacies, or sexual desires that are based on your own desires for gratification and not on mutual respect. Yet sex can be wonderful and is crucial to the survival of the species.
Sound familiar? Perhaps it provides a helpful way to think about talking with addressing racism in America today.