This high school kid came into my work yesterday and sat down for a haircut. I asked him which school he went to, and what grade he was in. He is a senior at a local Christian high school. He asked me if I knew what was going on “with the genocide in Iraq”. I let him tell me about it.
"Women and children of Christian faith are being killed, beheaded even, with their blood draining into buckets on the streets"
I swallowed my squeamish tendency and asked, “So what do you think America should do?”
He kind of puffed up his chest a little, then suddenly it looked like reality slapped him right in the face, as he sighed heavily. “I…I don’t know what we can do. Obama doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything”.
"Do you ever wonder how we got to be so lucky, you and I?", I asked. "We drew some really crazy cards to be born white in America, let alone California, huh? I mean, we could go our whole lives with our heads in the sand and not even have to think about that genocide, or famine, or racism, or—" and he cut me off.
"Oh, I’m not racist!"
"It doesn’t matter whether you’re racist or not, because you’re white", I was trying to be gentle because I know hairdressers aren’t really supposed to talk about this kind of stuff.
"Well, what can I do about racism other than not be racist?", he asked with a bit of snark.
"Just be informed. Just know how lucky you are. Paying attention to those things will change your mind without you even knowing it, so someday you won’t have to exclaim that you’re not a racist". I was surprising myself because I feel like somehow my own mind was changed without me knowing it.
I know this boy meant no harm. I know he is just misinformed and his feelings and thoughts are so persuade by his church and school, but damn, I hope I got him thinking a whole lot more about what a genocide means, and what Obama’s job really is, and how others’ bloodshed really shouldn’t be small talk.
My last question to him was, “Uh, don’t you have a tumblr?”