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Polarization does not change anything

Kahrie Stegman
Pratt Tribune
Kahrie Stegman is a 2020 graduate of Pratt High School.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve witnessed the devastating events of George Floyd’s murder and all of the riots in response to his and too many other POC deaths. You’ve probably also seen just how explosive social media has been over the last week because of this. We’ve all seen how people’s opinions and closed minds have taken the media by storm, and how devastating it’s been to our unity as we fight against racism.

Being white, I can’t understand what it is like to live in fear in at least some situations because of the color of my skin, but I am using this time to try to understand a little bit better so I can help create the change our country needs. Everyone can do the same, because being anti-racist is not a black, white, or brown thing to be; it’s a human thing.

A few months ago, I watched a video of Lady Gaga about her thoughts on kindness, and when I watched it again a couple of days ago, it struck a different chord.

“Hatred, or evil, or whatever you want to call it- it’s intelligent. It’s smart. And it’s invisible. It doesn’t have a color, it doesn’t have a race, it doesn’t have a religion, it has no politics; it’s an invisible snake,” she said. “It is thinking to itself: I am going to divide my enemy into smaller, less strong groups. And then I’m going to make them hate each other so that it’s easier to take them down.”

This is exactly what I thought as I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw the hundreds of arguments erupting. I thought, are these people even trying to end racism anymore, or are they just trying to prove their point?

All I saw was polarized opinions.

As I read the Facebook arguments, I noticed one thing: nearly all of the arguments were between two anti-racists, and one small disagreement led them both to a Facebook battle. I am noticing more and more people forget about common ground and how valuable it can be in a time such as this. As we’re all working to end racism in our country through many different forms of protest, everyone seems to be factioning themselves into smaller groups, just as Lady Gaga said.

What so many don’t understand about kindness is that it doesn’t always mean we have to concur with people who have different opinions from us. We can be kind and firm at the same time. Nearly all of what we’re seeing now is firmness and hatred; a sort of impasse that no one knows how to get around.

Regardless of what you think about the “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter” dispute, or any other argument that is dividing our country even more, you can choose to be kind and firm, rather than hate in your conversations. I don’t know what your stance is on these current issues, but none of our disagreements can matter more than our one end goal: to end racism in our country, once and for all.

So yes - go to that protest, share that Facebook post, have uncomfortable conversations, sign those petitions and make your voice heard. It’s more than okay to be angry about what is happening in our country, but do everything out of firm and unshakable kindness.