My good friend Cody, a white guy from Texas who loves his country music and boots, has an important message that would do the country well if they would read with an open mind and see all of America through his eyes. It would be a beautiful thing.
I was about to check into bed a bit early for a change, before 2:00 AM, when I ran across Cody’s post. The sentiment in his post did not surprise me. After all, he lives it and all of his friends see it and know it. What stood out is how he expressed the rewarding nature of embracing the diversity of cultures. Many of us feel the way he does. But I think his persona and prose conveys it in a manner that could reach many who’s fears are exploited by the likes of our misogynistic, sexist, xenophobic, racist, narcissistic president.
Cody wrote: “I’m just a regular white guy from Texas. I wear boots every day. I listen to classic country music. Alabama is my favorite band and my favorite artist would be a toss up between Garth Brooks and Roy Rogers. People sometimes make fun of my country accent, but it’s fine. Family is important to me. I still live about a mile from the house I grew up in. My best times are sitting on the porch out at the farmhouse my grandfather passed down to us, which he got with the GI Bill after WW2. It’s so peaceful, sitting there with the family, watching the sun go down. It’s something I always look forward to.
I live in a mostly minority area. In fact, I think I may be the only white person in my neighborhood and its great. I have friends of all different races and from all parts of the world. Some of my best friends are from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Iraq, but I still have other friends from Russia, Iran, and Trinidad. I could not ask for better friends. They make me a better person and I could not imagine going through life without them.
My friend from Iraq is one of the coolest guys I know. He volunteers at an organization that helps refugees transition to American culture. He sometimes has dinner parties at his house. It’s a great time sitting there amazed at stories from parts of the world I have never been to, listening to the hopes, fears, jokes, needs, and desires of people that came from such different backgrounds than I did, but are still just as human. We play games like cards against humanity and it’s sometimes just as inappropriate as when I play it with anyone else. We laugh and we have a good time.
I teach at a mostly Hispanic school and I think the world of my students. I would do pretty much anything for them. I teach them all I can, but they teach me even more. Our cultures do not collide. Instead, they compliment each other. I once took a group of students to a barbecue restaurant and they stood around lost because they had never tried it before. I was so excited to share one of my favorite foods with them. A few weeks later, a group of students took me to a Salvadoran restaurant for the first time and thought it was funny to see me looking around lost as I tried to figure out what the menu said. They took great joy in sharing their favorite food with me and watching me enjoy it for the first time. As a side note, pupusas are a regular staple in my life now and I know a great place to go if you would like to try it.
I have lived in this multi-cultural world for a long time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I am still the same old me. I still listen to my old country music. Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and Gene Autry still grace my life every day. I still watch John Wayne movies. I still dream of wide open spaces away from civilization, I still look forward to those moments on the porch swing out in front of the old farmhouse with my family.
Nothing has changed. Who I am is not under attack. My culture is not threatened by diversity. I am still me. I am just a better me, with more friends who I love and care about, with new foods and experiences. Life is good. I love my community and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cultures don’t have to clash. We don’t always have to be defensive and afraid that someone is going to change us. In fact, when we live in fear that other people will change us, we grow hateful, angry, and change ourselves. Our identity becomes lost not because some outside group stole it but because we gave it away. Many of the white people I knew as a child would have given the shirt off their back to help anyone, but they would not do that now. Now fear and hate dwell deep in their heart. They want to see immigrant families torn apart. They say racist things. They are hurtful. They are not who they used to be. I hope they can find themselves again, though, and I hope they will give diversity a chance. I know they wouldn’t regret it. I think they will certainly be happier. Life is too short to live it in fear of good people.”
Trump like many demagogues channeled the fears and awakened the lingering racist seed in many to coax them into an irrational blaming of the other. That ignorance causes one to forego assigning blame where it really belongs. Trump like most unfettered capitalists are in fact the parasites, enriching themselves off of everyone else’s labor and sacrifices. If we get a portion of the Trump voter base to open their eyes and see through Cody’s eyes, real change would be possible.