I don’t know about anyone else, but I have noticed a common theme over the past three weeks in wake of daily Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
Someone (often a white person) will go on social media (usually Facebook) and say something false, ignorant, or outright racist. That statement will be refuted with factual evidence or that comment will be addressed for being false, ignorant, or outright racist. A brief exchange will take place before that original commenter writes, “Let’s just agree to disagree.”
And that is a problem.
There are certain instances where it is fine to “agree to disagree,” but far too many people use it as a cop out to avoid admitting fault, wrongdoing, or defeat.
If both sides can present strong cases on an issue backed by facts from credible sources, then it is perfectly okay to “agree to disagree” on the matter. But if you’re going to throw out wild accusations or information that has no credible sourcing to it, then you do not get the luxury of playing the, “Let’s just agree to disagree,” card.
A woman from my community was upset that a peaceful protest is scheduled for this Friday in her town, and voiced her concerns on Facebook. “Sounds like vile hatred to me,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of the people aren’t even from North Rockland, a place where we live in harmony in a very diverse community.”
The white privilege showing.
SHE lives in harmony, but that does not mean other people within the community do — particularly Black people and people of color. Hell, I’m white and there is nothing harmonious about what I’m seeing within my community. I see hatred. I see bigotry. I see ignorance. I see people’s true colors. I see many things, but I do not see harmony.
When I pointed out that the picture with the protest information on it quite literally says that it is a “peaceful” protest, she countered that the fist shown — referring to the Black Lives Matter logo — suggested otherwise. When I pointed out that a raised fist is a symbol of unity and solidarity, she wanted to “agree to disagree” and move on.
White privilege comes in many forms, and it can be used for good and bad.
This woman was choosing to use her white privilege by exercising her option to bury her head in the sand and ignore the reality of what is happening around her. I was choosing to use my white privilege to educate her on matters she was clearly unfamiliar with. She responded by calling me an “ignorant” “angry elf” and ending the conversation.
I am many things and flawed in many ways, but I am not ignorant — especially about what is happening in the world right now. I was not familiar with the Black Lives Matter movement when it started almost a decade ago and, admittedly, I was not a fan of it initially; but I educated myself on what it is and what it represents, and I eventually came around.
But she is right in that I am angry.
I am angry at the willful ignorance of some people in the community I grew up in and live in refusing to see any side but their own. I am angry that instead of asking questions about things they do not understand, some people in my community only seek out information that aligns with their beliefs. I am angry that everyone seems to have an opinion, but nobody seems to want to have a conversation unless it is with someone who shares the same opinion as them.
People are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts or their own reality.
So no, I will not “agree to disagree” just because it makes you more comfortable to do so.