I Love My Racist Grandpa

We come up with new labels every day. Popular labels earn a bandwagon. Jump on a bandwagon and other doors close. It is the perfect recipe for division.

I am not usual, in almost all the ways. I do poorly on multiple choice tests. I see all possibilities. There is no left or right. Is the sky blue? Maybe, because it is also can be black, gray, and pink. I am unable to stay on a bandwagon, because no bandwagon is perfect. I do not like dumb things and am compelled to point out all flaws. The bandwagons do not like this. And their dumb things wear on my nerves until I find a better place. On and on this has gone, through many steps of life. And on this day I have decided to quit wagons altogether. 
I find the good guy/ bad guy movies to be sorely lacking. There are few instances in life where one is all good or all bad. I can almost always find at least one positive thing each person brings to the world. Donald Trump is an easy example of an exception. Along those same lines, all people are flawed. But few are willing to admit their own flaws.  There are days where I am disappointed in humanity, and in the apathy of many of our citizens- especially before the election.Some days the disappointment is in me. I began counting my blessings some time ago, but only recently realized the size of my white privilege. I knew I was not racist, so I guess the problem was solved on my end? I do not know what I thought, but I should have known better. 
Some people do not count any blessings though, and instead count the blessings of others. Many count how many more hours they work, and the declining numbers in their checking accounts. They may think others seem to work less and have more. Some people get brainwashed to a Stepford person level. Some people are smart, but only take the time to repeat. A few people think, which is often not received well. Remember that bandwagon?     
My grandpa was an important part of my childhood. He instilled in me a handful of things that I would not have found elsewhere. I was thrilled to find video of him as he had been gone for 20 years. I was quite taken aback when my beloved Grandpa used the "N" word, multiple times. I had kept the good memories, the important ones and the blessings, and forgot the heinous completely. 
I certainly do not condone hate, and I do not deny my Grandpa was apparently indeed a hater and racist. But I also know that he may have hardly ever even seen a person of color. He was born in 1914, in a very small farm town in Indiana. He was quite intelligent, but also quite poor. Modern amenities like plumbing were decades away for him. Traveling beyond the borders of Whiteyville were seldom and far between. He lived a life of menial jobs, but only occasionally expressed regret for having no college opportunities. Because people worked hard and that was life. He was fed a bunch of hate, and never heard anything different. He did not participate in hate groups, but used the "N" word freely, and spread stereotypes to the next generation. I hope no one will hate me for loving my grandpa, yet I know it is not fair to ask people to not hate him. 
My point is that life is complicated. We are at a point in history where anything horrible seems possible. We all have much to say, and good reasons to be heard. But we are not listening to each other! We talk in sound bytes, and repeat the same lines. We do not hear the stories of others. We watch too much news, and stop thinking for ourselves. We get smug in our echo chambers. And right now I am talking to everybody. 
If I retold my Grandpa story as "I love my racist Grandpa" it would not at all be the same. But sometimes that is the number of characters we have to speak. Yesterday I made a completely benign comment on a funny anti-Trump meme on a liberal page. I was promptly cursed at by six different liberals who mistook me for a Republican Trump supporter. One appeared to be drunk, two jumped into a Hillary/Bernie brawl, one said we should submit to the Koch Brothers, and one had never heard of Corporate Democrats. The only person that made any sense was the one conservative that admitted to being there to troll. I actually made friends with that person. 
Now I am not saying all liberals are as foolish as these. Remember it is not ever that simple anyway. There was some outrage today about Charlottesville. I, from racist descent, want to see a whole lot more active outrage from white people. On the other side, I hope to see more anti-rascists think more openly when figuring how Trump skated through red states. Yes there are plenty of racists here in Indiana. There are also lots of financially desperate brain washed people. Education seems one way to help. Calling everyone with a corn field in their backyard a racist is not helpful at all.  
Beyond listening, I ask you to think. Think before you explain yourself. Think again after somone else explains. We do not all have the same backgrounds, or means, or realities. Do not assume you know another before they present their side. Question yourself regularly. Find the balance between holding your own and standing by another. Some days it feels too much, and on those days take a break. Some days I worry too much, some days I say it is not enough. I really do not know what to expect for the ending of this Twilight Zone nightmare, but I am going to spend the time talking to people, hearing people, and then expecting the same of you all.