Last night I saw an article on Facebook that one of my friends had shared. Now, I am not going to share the story, and frankly, I don’t recall off the top of my head which media site published it. It wasn’t a fake news site. However, it was on par with being a hyper-partisan and sensationalized media organization. The story offered a pretty detailed account of what read like a Tom Clancy novel involving the Trump campaign, big oil interest, and Russia. The author laid out the whole Trump/Russian connection in gory detail naming all of the players involved. Of course, all of this information was provided by the author’s “sources,” which remained nameless throughout the entire piece. Whether the article was accurate or not, I honestly have no idea. The inability to authenticate the information plays a part in why I won’t share the story. However, the main reason I won’t share this article is that the whole Trump and collusion with Russia thing have nothing to do with what I am about to say next.
Now, don’t get me wrong the story is sensational. The kind of thrilling story that makes Democrats pump their fists with glee and Republicans click “back” on their browser muttering “fake news!” However, for me, there was one particular detail that stuck out to me, and frankly, it made me a little sad. Now, don’t get me wrong if indeed the information in the article was accurate, I think that all of us as Americans, should feel sad at the fact that “We The People” could be bought and sold. However, in amongst the cast of sinister characters, there was one particular person that if the story were true, I would be especially disappointed in and that was President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. For the remainder of my article, let’s pretend that indeed the story I read was right. For no other reason, then so I can explain my disheartened feelings at Jared Kushner potential of being a crook.
Please understand, I am acknowledging my biases up front when it comes to my personal disappoint with Kushner. See what bothered me the most is that both Jared and I are Jews. Look, I know that sounds ridiculous. Clearly, Jewishness is not some internal ethical barometer for moral behavior. There are countless examples of Jews who haven’t upheld themselves to high morals. So I understand, it seems silly to be disappointed, at the thought, that another member of the Jewish community could potentially join the ranks of the nefarious.
However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment at the thought that Jared could have been a mafia-like conman. Potentially, at the expense of the American people. Ultimately, my disappointment is probably a feeling that is shared by a lot of individuals who are racial, cultural, ethnic, or religious minorities. It isn’t that I had a particular fondness for Jared as a person, but I in a way I felt that a blemish on Kushner’s character was a stain on the character of the entire Jewish community. Basically, Jews all over would be judged by his actions. In essence, Kushner’s actions would help perpetuate the stereotype of Jews being greedy, sneaky, and the villains of the financial and political world. In my mind, there was a guy somewhere reading the article saying to himself, “Well what do you expect from those Jews.”
I realized that the same feeling I had must be the same type of emotion members of the Muslim community feel anytime an Islamic extremists commits an act of terrorism. Or the way the African American community feels when they turn on the news and see that violence has occurred at a Black rights protest. Assuredly, no different than someone in the LGBT community who groans when a newspaper headline highlights the arrest of some child molester, who just so also happened to be targeting same-sex victims. Additionally, I imagine more than a few people in the Hispanic community have given a long sigh when they see on the news that some unauthorized Hispanic immigrant has committed a crime.
Now look, I am not trying to lay some guilt trip on anyone. Nor am I suggesting that I am owed or want anything from a single person in America. Keep what you have, I don’t want it nor do I need it. However, the bottom line is non-Hispanic White America represents 63% of the population. Additionally, 71.3% of the America public considers themselves Christians, 22.8% say they are “unaffiliated with religious faith,” which leaves only 5.9% of the population representing one of the “non-Christian religions.” Lastly, 96.2% of America consider themselves exclusively heterosexual. When someone that falls into the category of those three majority classes, does something illegal, or immoral, the majority of the populous can quickly consider the acts to be perpetrated by an individual and not to be a representation of the whole group. Unfortunately, that same response is not easily afforded to racial, ethnic, cultural or religious minorities.
Consider the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in the fall of 2015. Now, unless I happen to live in some dramatically different corner of the country, everyone has to have at one point heard someone say something to the effect, “Well if the Blacks wouldn’t go out and commit crimes, riot, and loot then…”
Ok, 241,820 African Americans are living in St. Louis County, Missouri. Hypothetically, even if the entire Black population of St. Louis County were actively involved in riots and looting in Ferguson, that still would only represent .6% of the entire African-American population. 99.4% of Black America would have had nothing to do with Ferguson. Now, don’t forget, those figures are based on 240,000 African Americans rioting, however, in reality we know it was probably one to two thousand individuals of mixed races who were involved in property damage and looting.
Please understand that doesn’t mean that just because you happen to fall into the majority and are reading this, that I am accusing you of blaming all of Black America for crime, Jews for being financial charlatans, Muslims for being terrorist, etc. However, can anyone honestly say that this is the first time you’ve heard of these types of accusations being made? Conversely, can you say that the same types of associations are as eagerly made against the population’s majority?
Assuredly, I can hear the counter-arguments now. Well, what about cops, teachers, car salesman, etc. They get blamed for the misdeeds by those within their profession. Yes, indeed this does occur. Trust me; I’m a cop, I know that. Indeed, you will get zero arguments out of me that bias and prejudice are universally wrong in any form. This includes prejudice against professions. However, unlike professional-typecasting, the stereotyping that minorities face involves aspects that are unchangeable. The prejudice cannot ever become too much of hardship that one can just walk away from it.
The truth is no class of minorities America desires to take anything away from anyone. We aren’t here to change America or its culture. We are here for the same reason you are, to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our differences only add depth and richness to American culture and society. What many people don’t realize, is that what I described feeling over the whole Jared Kushner story, actually occurs frequently amongst the minority populace. We hold our own ethnic populous to a higher standard because we feel like we have too to avoid guilt by association. We don’t do this for fun. Rather, it is systemically the cultural climate that we exist within.
To change this environment, it will involve people considering others from a perspective they potentially have never considered before. It will also require individuals to consider their implicit biases, which may initially seem to be in conflict with one’s pre-existing beliefs. Honestly, no one wants anyone to condone bad behavior. Rather, we just want you to attribute bad behavior to be the actions of a bad person.
Ultimately, we want to be considered just your friend. Not your, “(Gay)/ (Black)/(Jewish) (Hispanic)/(Muslim) friend.” Lastly, no one desires to be thought of as being, “one of the good ones.” We are all just as good and bad as any other group of people. At the end of the day, we are all fundamentally all just people. So just treat us like people.