Preview: An Uncomfortable Conversation

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Hello All,

Thank you for taking the time to visit my little piece of the internet.  Below you will find a preview, the beginning of my new book An Uncomfortable Conversation.  Fair warning to those who have read my other books or are fans of my writing.  This is very different from what you have read before.  

 

An Uncomfortable Conversation

By Derrick Marrow 

 

Warning and Disclaimer: This is going to be a very tough read for some.  What you will see in the following pages is the truthful interaction between two men.  The publishing of this conversation is meant as the start of the conversation.  Hopefully a conversation you will find yourself joining into as you read through the pages.  It is meant as both a conversation for self-reflection and reflection on the outlook you have for others.  Hopefully you will take a look at your values, your truths and the respect we all should share.  Some of the words, the ideas presented in this dialogue you will agree with and some you will vehemently disagree with.  These are the words of two men who decided they needed to sit down, look each other in the eye and have an open honest conversation.  It might not have been easy but to have a real conversation each participant had to listen to the other person.  Not listen to react and counter argue but listen to understand.  Hopefully as you read you will find yourself sitting at the table with these two people.  Thank you for adding to the discussion.  Here we go.

 

 

Opening Lines of Communication

 

“How did we get here?”

“We got here because you offered to fight me.  As if I was going to take some threat from so random person online serious.”

“And that right there is the problem.  No I didn’t offer to fight you.  I offered you an invitation to talk.  What I said to you was and I quote ‘Enough of this back and forth over social media if you really want to talk we can do it in person.’  Now you took that as a threat and an offer to a fight but physical violence was never intended.  I think your initial response was sad but I can’t control how you perceive words that I never said and I never mentioned anything about fighting.  My question to you though is why?  What would make you think I would want to put my hands on you for something you said to me especially over the internet?  I’m a grown man with kids and bills.  I’m not some internet troll.  You could clearly see my picture, my face in my avatar and me putting my hands on you won’t do anything to make anything better.  It wouldn’t even make me feel better beating you up over something you said online.  Who does that?  But back to my original question.  Why did you think those words were an invitation to fight when no such words were uttered or rather typed?”

 “I read between the lines.  Your reply to my statement was gruff and abrupt.  It cut off the dialogue we were having.  To me the nature of the way the conversation went, I thought you were insinuating you wanted to fight?  And how was I supposed to know the picture was really you.  Do you know how many fake accounts there are in cyber space?  Safety is always my primary concern.  I’ve been in enough situations where exactly what you said turned violent.  When someone says let’s step outside there’s no mention of violence but you know what’s going to happen when you get out there.”

“But there was no outside to go.  We were in completely different places, different cities in different states.  So you read between the lines.  So are you sure you want to do this now.  Are you sure you’re safe.  Safety concerns aren’t a concern right now?  You don’t think I’m going to just go off and punch you now do you?”

“No.  Let’s just say I vetted you before I came here.”

“As you should.  As I did you.  So we’re here to have an honest conversation right?  To pick up where we left off which was nowhere really.”

“Yes.  I think we both have some things we need to say and maybe a few things we need to hear.”

“You know this is going to get heated at some points?  Are you really ready to hear what most people don’t want to.”

“I’m fully aware of what lies ahead today.  If you’re one hundred percent honest with me I’ll be one hundred percent honest with you.”

“I plan on being one hundred percent truthful.  If not this meeting will get us nowhere.”

“As do I.”

“I will not pull any punches.”

“I got it.  You wanted to talk, man to man, face to face, let’s do it.”

“Good.  Well let’s start with the truth right now.  If I wasn’t a black male.  And I’m not even a very imposing one.  I’m not six two, two hundred and fifty pounds.  I’m not built like a linebacker and I don’t cut much of an imposing figure by size.  Maybe by aura but not by sheer size.  But you couldn’t see that online.  So if I wasn’t a black man, or maybe portraying a black man since you weren’t sure if I was really me online, If I wasn’t a black man would you have thought I was asking you to a fight.  If were a woman.  An Asian man.  Another white man as yourself.  Would you have thought the same?”

“Truthfully?  If you were a woman.   No.  If you were an Asian man, no.  Unless your online profile said you were in the Triad or something, then maybe but realistically no.  Now this is going to surprise you a little.  If you were a white man, maybe, probably.  Unless you were an academic, a professor somewhere I would have thought the same thing.”

“I know what an academic is but I’m glad you said that.  Why?  Why out of all the people in the world you would have read into the posts of a white man, maybe, but definitely a black man in a violent nature?  Is that the way you see people?  Do you usually stereotype people based on their skin color?”

“It’s the way I see people online.  Everybody’s a tough guy on line.  Especially when you don’t agree with them.  The anonymity gives people courage to say things they wouldn’t say to your face.  But that’s why we’re here right.  To look into each other’s eyes and say it to their face?”

“To a certain extent yes.  But more importantly, hopefully, we’re here to learn.  I’m here to see things through the prism of your eyes, your upbringing, your history.  So let me ask you this.  The way you see people online, is that the way you see them in real life?”

“To a certain extent yes.  Minus the tough guy part but yeah I’d say so.”

“Do you even see what you’re doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean a minute ago you gave a nuanced answer to how you see people.  You didn’t put everyone in one lump sum.  You broke it down into I see my interactions with these people as this but these people as something different.  You simply stated yes you stereotyped me and all black people and all non-academic white people.  I’m, sorry all black males and all non-academic white males.”

“Whether justifiable or not we all fall back on stereotypes.  Can you sit here and tell me you don’t?”

“I can.”

“You’re lying.”

“You don’t even know me nor have you heard what I have to say yet you’re already calling me a liar.  A rational person would at least wait until they knew I lied before assuming I did.”

 “Everyone has stereotypes.  You don’t have to admit it to yourself but everyone does.  It’s an inherent part of life.”

“It’s not a part of life because they are not a part of nature.  Stereotypes are learned behavior taught by other people.  So not me.  I don’t have any stereotypes.  I don’t live my life that way.  And before you continue on with your argument let me explain why.  First I will agree with your point to a certain extent.  Yes, most people fall back on the stereotypes they’ve learned over the years.  But this is why I don’t.  It limits one’s self to look at others and think you know something about them because of a false set of data which is what stereotypes are.”

“Stereotypes are not false data.  They all come from a basis in reality.”

“From a false reality.  Listen, if I look at every white person or brown person or every female or every whatever category or person I’m referencing then I don’t look at you for you.  Who you really are.  I’m never going to give you a chance to be whatever you are because my vision is blurred.  Now once you prove who you are either positive or negative then that is another story.  But that’s the problem with stereotypes.  They are a narrative which ultimately almost never fits the person.”

“So you’re admitting some people fit the stereotype about their group.”

“How many people how you known that fit the stereotype you thought.  I’m talking about people you know, not what’s flashed on a tv screen because you never know the truth or the intricacies of what’s going on there.”

“None to be truthful.  But that’s because I would never let anyone like that in my circle.”

“Anyone like what?  See you’re doing it now.  You’re assuming I’m talking about stereotypical black people.  But there are stereotypes for every race, creed, religion, etcetera etcetera.”

“So you’re telling me you take everybody for who they are, you never had any preconceived notions, not a slight thought of who someone is just by looking at them.  By the way they dress or the way they’re acting?”

“I’m telling you it took me a long time to get there.  It took me many missed opportunities and many mistakes to get there.”

“Opportunities?”

“Not opportunities like this person may have some kind of financial windfall for me but opportunities to learn, to grow.  Women who would have been beautiful mates, a great girlfriend, maybe even a great wife.  Not that I’m mad because I love my wife.  She is a Godsend.  And there are other examples.  Stereotypes are nothing more than racism.”

“Whoa, whoa.  Now you’re taking it too far.”

“No I’m not.  Take out your phone and google racism.  What does it say?”

“Alright, let me look.  Ok, it says racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity.”

“Now google stereotype.”

“It says, stereotype is any thought widely adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of behaving intended to represent the entire group of those individuals or behaviors as a whole. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.”

“So both racism and stereotypes deal with a person, a single person looking at another different group of people and believing they know something about them.  Racists believe they are superior and most stereotypes, the damaging ones are where someone believes in something negative about another group enhancing their belief of superiority.  Both are learned behaviors past down from other people.”

“I see where you are going but every stereotype isn’t racist.”

“It may not always be a one-to-one comparison but more often than not they are.  That lady on whatever tv show that was didn’t say I’m going to Jew you down as a positive comment about Jewish finances.”

“She said that on tv and they let it get part their censors.”

“Yes sir but even that illustrates my point.  The people who were doing the checking didn’t even realize it was offensive.  At the minimum both ideals, stereotyping and racism are lazy.  And at the maximum both ideas are dangerous.  Both stop someone, a single person from dealing with another group of people.  And whether you want to admit it or not this country has a problem with both.”

“But not all people are either.”

“You’re right.  There is no such thing as every when it comes to people and that’s not what I’m saying anyway.”

“C’mon man.  Most stereotypes are based on the truth where racism, especially this definition is not.”

“Not true.  Most stereotypes are based on the amalgamation, you like that word don’t you, most stereotypes are based on the amalgamation of chosen aspects of different people bled to form the narrative of the author.  In other words most stereotypes are not true because they infer something from a small minority of people within a group and portray that thing to be the whole group.  Normally the stereotype only fits an infinitesimal number within a group of people and even then it’s patched together from different people to describe a person who never really truly existed.  For every stereotype you name, if you were to get a group of people the stereotype supposedly depicts the overwhelming majority of the people it wouldn’t fit.  You’d be hard pressed to find even one.  And even if you did the overwhelming majority would be pissed you described them as this false stereotype because it doesn’t fit who they are.”

“I could find you some that fit the description in every group.”

“That’s my point exactly though.  You could find me one, maybe.  And for everyone you find I could find you nine hundred and ninety nine thousand that it didn’t fit.  For example, you’re a white man, are all white people racist?”

“No, but there are some that are.”

“How many.  What do you think the ratio is of white racist people to white non-racist people?”

“That’s like asking how many ghetto black people are there?”

“See now you’re getting offended.  But what I’m not going to do is what a lot of black people have had to do all their lives and that is make you feel comfortable.  I’m not here for that and hopefully neither are you.  I’m not here to walk on the other side of the street because Becky doesn’t feel comfortable when she sees me walking down a street.  How do I know she’s scared, because she starts gripping her pocketbook tight.  She didn’t grab her pocketbook when you walked by her but me I’m a black man so she’s scared.  You can lock your car doors when I drive by like I’m going to jump out and grab you.  I’m not here to make you feel comfortable.”

 “Nobody asked you to make me feel comfortable.  So just because I said the word ghetto when referring to black people, that word touched a nerve.  So what if I said?”

 “Said what if you said what?  Go ahead say it.  I know what you want to say.  I give you permission go ahead say it.”

 “Nah, I’m good and believe me when I say I don’t need you permission.”

 “Then why don’t you say it.  What are you afraid of?”

 “I’m not afraid of nothing in this room especially no word.”

 “That’s good I don’t want you to be afraid of anything in this room especially me.  You’re going to respect me but I don’t want you to fear me I’m just here to talk.  But it always goes back to you thinking I have some penchant for violence doesn’t it?”

 Chuckles

 “Nah don’t laugh.  Say the word.  I want you to say it.”

 “I won’t say the word.  It’s disrespectful.  That’s definitely not what we are here for right?  But why is it ok for you to say the word and not for me?”

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Thank you for taking the time to read the preview of my upcoming book An Uncomfortable Conversation.  The full conversation will be available shortly. It is currently going through beta reading and a second round of revisions. Check back here for a release date shortly.  Sometimes you have to look someone in the eye and have an honest talk.  Hope to see you soon!

 

 

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