So America, we’ve been talking a lot about race lately, and I think that’s great. I think equality is a wonderful, yet dizzying concept.
I read an article by Nylon about a guy on Tumblr who takes popular movies and edits them down to only the lines spoken by people of color; the results, as you would expect, are glaringly short snippets from incredibly popular movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Her. Reading about it is disappointing, and reminds me of how great it would be to live in a society where that guy didn’t feel the need to point out such a problem. And then there was the release of Kendrick Lamar‘s video for Alright, which caused conservative, white media to actually just die. A beautifully done, chilling video chock full of depth and symbolism representing what Kendrick Lamar perceives to be true regarding racial injustice in our modern society.
I loved the video. I watched it over and over absorbing all the feeling and the symbolism within it. I did the exact same with the movie The Fault in Our Stars, which boasts exactly one character played by a person of color with a speaking part.
See, I wasn’t watching Kendrick Lamar’s video because I just totally get what it’s like to be a black man in the year 2015. Just like I wasn’t watching The Fault in Our Stars because I know very accurately what it must be like to be a sixteen year old girl dying of cancer. I watched them to know a perspective different from my own, to understand what someone other than myself must be thinking. And when I watched, and tried to understand, their perspectives seemed perfectly valid and legitimate.
Follow me on this. I am huge Lena Dunham fan, and among the many things my greatest role model has been criticized for, Dunham has taken a lot of heat for the whiteness of her show Girls. I watched an interview once where the reporter asked her about such criticisms, and she responded very blatantly that she wrote what she knew. Dunham is half Jew, half WASP, so the main characters on her show are two Jews and two WASPs.
And that made it all make enough sense to me. The thing is, we’re all living different lives; we’ve all experienced different things, and we all think differently because of it. Lena Dunham’s show is a reflection of Lena Dunham’s truth. Whatever John Green writes is a reflection of the truth from exclusively John Green’s perspective, and the exact same goes for Kendrick Lamar. What’s more, the exact same goes for literally everyone on this planet.
It would be wonderful to live in a world void of racism, void of prejudice and discrimination in general. Nothing would make me happier than to achieve actual equality in our country, and our world as a whole; but even then, we’re all gonna see things differently. We’re not all gonna walk out the same door in the morning; we’re not all gonna eat the same thing for breakfast, or get our morning news the same way. We’re always going to be different, and that means we’re living different truths. My truth is never going to look like Kendrick Lamar’s truth; i’m never going to be a rapper from Compton, but I’m also never going to be Jack Antonoff‘s girlfriend (and that is a joke because I would never identify a woman by who she’s dating), but all of that is okay.
Wanna know why? Because life would be really boring if we were all living the same truth. If we were, I wouldn’t need to watch Kendrick Lamar’s video for Alright; I’d be like him, and I would have lived exactly the truth he’s trying to convey in it.
I don’t think the problem is our differences. I think maybe, like just maybe, our problem is that each and everyone of us wants to see our own perspective as the one concrete truth. We’re unwilling to think that anyone’s experiences and opinions that differ from ours are just as valid. We’re unwilling to take off our own shoes and put on someone else’s, and then someone else’s, and then someone else’s. We’re unwilling to try on everybody else’s shoes, but maybe that would help.
One of my best friend’s dad and brother are both cops, so with all of the recent cases against police pertaining to racial profiling and brutality, she’s tended to side with the police. I get that. Her truth is that cops are the best men in her life.
Her dad and brother are both great men. I support them and trust them. But I also look at things like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri where certain officers within that police department were violating the constitution and were actually racist; and then I watch Kendrick Lamar’s video and I get what he’s saying too.
It is possible to put on more than one pair of shoes, to see things from multiple sides; it’s possible, to want more than one side to win. Because maybe if we put on someone else’s shoes, and see their truth, then we won’t see every single issue our society faces as a two sided argument. Maybe if we look at both sides of the argument, we’ll stop hoping for a winner and a loser, and instead we’ll start to look for a way for everyone to win, for the country as a whole to win, to validate all the different truths that make up reality; and, I don’t know, maybe if we do that, our truths can be a little more equal, even if they’re never the same. Maybe every movie won’t have an equal number of white characters and characters of color. Perhaps, some movies won’t have any white people in them because, I don’t know, they’re movies about Kendrick Lamar’s family; I literally don’t know. However, if that does happen, or something else that doesn’t align perfectly with your version of reality happens, then maybe don’t get into a frenzy defending your truth, instead maybe try to just absorb and process the truth of someone else.
Maybe it’ll help something, maybe I’m wrong; I don’t know, think about it.