Fear Sucks

After last week, I figured I was done. I got a great amount of support and I appreciated it. I also got a “PLEEEZ DON’T GO!” text from A, so I told her I’d be back this week.

It’s hard to fathom, but I figured, “Hey, I have an idea: Play it safe.”

With the Cavs depleted, undermanned and outmatched, it was a perfect time for the “I got my LeBron back” column, explaining that this was the guy I loved. He took a rag-tag bunch with no hope and fought valiantly in the face of overwhelming odds and still got swept. No sadness, no regrets.

Then, shit happened.

The Cavs managed to make it an interesting series, and yet not interesting enough to go either way on the “they’re toast” or “they’re gonna win it” vibe.

Shit hit the fan down in McKinney, Texas when apparently we can now add SWB (swimming while black) to the unfortunate list of abbreviations in our vernacular.

A teacher decided it was time to go back to the 1950s to deal with this problem.

And just to make sure Texas wasn’t having too much attention, it turns out that an NAACP leader in Washington was “passing” as black (or so the story goes).

Race is one of those issues that is extremely complex and one that I often fail at when I try to write. I also know that every time anyone writes for a broader public, it’s like playing with live ammunition. When mixed, the results will sometimes create a hybrid of quicksand and acid: Deadly painful and no way out.

And here I was. Hoping to play it safe. Swim in the shallow end, so to speak.

Can’t. Won’t.

Say what you want to about Karen Fitzgibbons and her segregation post, and there are plenty of things to say, the one thing you can’t say is that she censored herself. She didn’t mince words.

She didn’t bow to public pressure or fear of retaliation.

She opened both barrels of stupid and let it all hang out.

This is in no way a defense of her. Don’t. Even. Go. There.

It is, however, something that had me thinking that the last thing I want to do is write about something because I’m looking to avoid something else.

I don’t want to be a pussy-ass, coward-ass, pussified pussy. All that does is weaken everything I do.

I just spent the last week rewriting curriculum for a friend and trying to figure out if it was “worth it” to put in a section in a sports-writing class about race and gender. I think it’s vitally important and yet at the same time, I can see the veritable buffet of shit going wrong when some kid makes a “Fitzgibbion” statement on a discussion board about “the black athlete.” I also know it’s far less painful to fire an adjunct than to belabor the issue and study the nuance.

I also don’t want to be an idiot, either, shooting from the hip like this idiot and becoming a cautionary tale for others to follow. There are days when I’m overly tired or stressed or whatever and a random lottery of stupidity flows out of my head before I can stop it. I’m almost certain it hasn’t been racist, but I’m also quite certain that I wish I had never said it.

There’s a fine line between guts and brains, as Herb Brooks used to say. In regard to Rachel Dolezal situation in Washington, one of my good friends (a feminist scholar) has been arguing on Facebook that whether this woman is African-American or not doesn’t matter. Race, she said, is a social construction and thus, it’s much like issue of gender/transgender. I have no way of knowing if that’s true or not, but a white woman stepping out on to that branch like that takes courage.

(It also sounds a lot better coming out of her mouth than it did when Breckin Meyer’s character in “Go” tried to make a similar argument.)

A and I used to talk about “The hill you are willing to die on.” The idea was that not everything and every issue was worth every inch of you. However, certain things were so worthy of your attention and your input and your soul that you would be willing to give all for them. There are certain things like that for each of us. You have yours, and I have mine. When that “thing” or “things” emerge and you can’t stand idly by even if it costs you everything, you know you have found “the hill you are willing to die on.” You might not die there, but you acknowledge that you could and you are OK with that.

When fear takes over, you can’t find that hill. You don’t know if you’re there or not. You just want to curl up where you are like an armadillo and hope you can withstand the beating.

It’s a god-awful thing.

Today, I found myself on my hill.

It wasn’t race.

It wasn’t safety.

It wasn’t LeBron, either.

It was fear and expression.

I went all the way back to the first “official” post I made on First Draft and found it to be about fear. I found myself writing throughout the years about fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of being fired and fear of my own statehouse.

I spent a lot of time and conducted a lot of research on the idea that people who fear will inevitably self-censor when faced with a tense or controversial situation. For some people, self-censorship comes easily. For others, it’s an inherent trait they lack. Still, in the end, the majority of us have a raw spot: touch it and we cover up.

Unfortunately, that’s usually when we should speak up.

That’s why I’m back. And I’ll be back again. And I’ll write on whatever shit happens that seems to be the kinds of stuff we discuss around here. It might not be perfect and I’m sure I’ll screw it up and I expect to be slapped around when I do.

I’ve been blessed to be here for seven years (Jesus, has it been that long?) and each time I wrote, it was whatever I was thinking about at the time. I often consider it running diary of social therapy and I’m not giving that up or ruining that now.

Next week, I’ll be here. I might write about LeBron. Then again, maybe I won’t.

Either way, it’ll be because I want to and not because I’m avoiding something else.

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