Matthew McConaughey posted this "behind the scenes" video last night and I was completely inspired by his genuine desire to listen and learn.
A lot of messages, opinions, experiences, and questions have surfaced in the last few weeks that, unfortunately, do not have clear and simple solutions. Because there aren't any; there is no one particular thing that can or will destroy centuries of racism and hate. Frankly, as long as humans are by nature flawed, I don't believe it will ever not exist. But we can be better and I believe that starts with listening.
That may sound like an easy, simple task, but listening is really fucking hard. Think about the last time someone spoke to you about something you didn't want to hear, weren't really interested in, or couldn't relate to. Maybe it was your work colleague talking about something cute their baby did and you're 23 and not really a kid person... did you actually take in what they were saying? Probably not. How about when they pulled out their phone to show you baby pictures they took over the weekend? Were you super eager to see yet another dozen snaps of some kid you've never met eating Cheerios? Nope. Because he's not your kid. You're not the one personally experiencing his adorable tendencies on a daily basis, so how could you possibly care so much about them? THAT is exactly what makes listening - real listening - so difficult.
And, yet, here was Matthew McConaughey reaching out to Emmanuel Acho to "learn, share, listen, and understand" so they could "discuss some common grounds between us, but also expose differences between us" with "the end goal being that we take the time we're in now and constructively turn a page in history through some righteous and justifiable change."
They unpack a lot in 13 minutes, but not one second is wasted.
MM: Individually, how can I do better as human, how can I do better as a man, how can I do better as a white man?
EA: You have to acknowledge that there's a problem so that you can take more ownership for the problem… Individually you have to acknowledge implicit bias. You have to acknowledge that you'll see a black man and, for whatever reason, you will view them as more of a threat than a white man. Probably because society told you to. You have to acknowledge that if there are two people with equal resumes, studies show that the person with the white sounding name is twice as likely to get a call back as a person with a black-sounding name. You're a very succesful man with probably several people under you… are you a part of that statistic? Are you looking at a resume and saying, 'Aw man, nah. They sound a little too hood for me.'
I think individually we must each fix the problem because I believe that individuals, they affect the houses, and the houses affect the cities, and the cities affect the states, and the states affect the nation, and the nation affects the world.
MM: Is BLM a banner - for now, yes - but is it a banner that is a bridge to take us to when we see black lives matter and we understand that and it's all agreed on, then we can wave the flag of "all lives matter," but not until?
EA: I think it's not until. For example, right now we're facing the world's greatest pandemic since the Spanish flu… right now we're focused on finding a remedy for that strain of the flu. That's not to say that cancer doesn't matter, it's not to say that HIV doesn't matter, it's not to say that ALS doesn't matter, all those things still matter. But right now, the Coronavirus is killing people…
There's a specific virus going on that is imminently ending lives, and that's the same thing going on in the world. There's a virus, it's just of the mind. It's not of the body.
They go on to discuss equality, what it means and how it looks, and then Matthew drops this little nugget about white allergies and what he's learned these past few weeks.
"I was sitting there looking at my own life, and I go, alright: Longview High School, it's over 50% black. I applied to Grambling. I was the first white to ever work at Catfish Station, an all blues bar on 6th Street. I am married to a non-white immigrant. I have black friends all through my life, and still do, but what prejudices may I have, via white allergies, that I may not even be aware of?
Of course, yes, whites and blacks and all have it hard. But whites have never had it harder because of the color of their skin. That's an obvious thing. I may realize that, but I never looked at that side of the coin.
I'm diving deeper into how I'm looking at things and how I'm looking at myself. How I can learn more, see things from your side more, see things from the black side more, so I can get a four-dimensional view here, 'cause inherently, maybe to some extent, I've been living in a way where I didn't quite see all sides as clearly as I could."
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.