How do we learn? Through observation. Education. Experience.
What do we privilege? Reason or perception; objectivism or subjectivism?
Arguably, since the Age of Enlightenment, we’ve privileged science over stories. Can you prove it by data? By hard, steely facts? If not, you’re biased. Your words hold no weight.
Here’s what I believe to be true. Race isn’t “real.” Yes, we’re a sundry people. But we’re one human race. We think in categories, and we socialize one another. So while race isn’t real in the same way a rock seems to be, we feel its effects. Race has real implications. We experience tangible consequences.
We use race and other abstract notions to codify and to assign meaning. To create an ontology. To be able to “know” what’s “good” or “bad”; what’s “better” or “worse.” We fall back on these rules like dew onto earth. So when we can’t understand through logic, we think we understand through social “truths.”
In our desire to coalesce, we divide ourselves.
Connecting. We desire connection and will achieve it through different means. We connect through shared interests…and sometimes this means sharing experiences over and against other people and groups. We’re quick to talk and slow to listen. We want to hear similar versions of our own experiences. This sharing is familiar. Comfortable. Binary.
Confusion and complexity and questions and ignorance—what a terrifying combination. We’d rather avoid new connections in the interest of maintaining old ones.
But what about challenge? The opportunity to change?
I’m mixed one way, and you’re mixed in another. I can’t hold your experiences under my skin—not like you can. And you can’t hold my experiences under your skin. It’s not fair to ask one another to feel how the other’s blood sings.
It’s beneficial to just listen. To understand, to the best of one’s ability. Some truths can’t be understood unless directly experienced. That’s real. Limitations. Also real.
Reason and logic can’t replace empiricism. Let’s dig to connect. Here’s to connecting through difference, and understanding in the ways we can. Here’s to making room for stories. They’re as legitimate as the people telling them. —Joy Stoffers, Festival Blogger