In the movie, “The Jerk,” Steve Martin said a famous line that can be repeated by many. In all his whiteness, he said, “I was born a poor black child.” This was in reference to him being adopted into a black family at an early age. There is no doubt in my mind this is now considered racist and offensive. But it was never intended to be that way then or now. If it does offend you, so be it.

I was born a white child and am unapologetic for it. Financially, I couldn’t tell you if we were poor, rich, or somewhere in between. If I had to guess, I would say somewhere in between. But money was something my parents never discussed with us kids. It is my belief I am an average white guy. Maybe even below average. I mean, some of us must be below average, or there would be no average. I’m not too smart. I’ve never excelled professionally or personally. And I’m a train wreck in relationships. I’m no expert in any subject. I have never claimed to be. Yet, someone with less self-esteem than I have reminded me of this recently. The statement wasn’t worth a response. Life is too short to entertain ignorance. So, I figure I am average. No more. No less.

In my lifetime, I’ve been blessed to make friends of different skin colors than mine. In the last couple of weeks, I have had conversations with some on my black friends that ended with “I love you’s” on each side. As close as we are, I have no idea what their lives are like being black. We never discuss it. We are friends and talk about regular friend things. Maybe I should have asked them. But I haven’t. Nor have they asked me what it’s like to be white. We are just friends. It ain’t complicated.

My opinions you are getting are coming from an average to below average white guy. How do we feel about the things going on in the world? Let’s start with COVID-19. In no way do I think this is a hoax. People have died from this virus. More will die until they find a way to combat this illness. However, I do think it has been politicized to the point an average person has no clue how lethal or non-lethal it is. You can always get information from the social media experts. But they are regurgitating something they have read or heard. And they are doing it out of fear. Average folks have no clue about the truth of this illness.

COVID-19 has spurred a great mask debate. Do we wear them or do we not? Since my better half is a nurse, I like to think I have some insight into this debate. But, I really don’t. Neither do you unless you are one of the social media experts. If you think you have the answers, and the news outlets aren’t calling you for your opinion, save your breath and stop talking. No one is really listening. As an average white guy, if you want to wear a mask, wear one. If you don’t want to wear one, don’t. Us average people don’t care which you choose to do. Nor will we make fun of you either way. We ain’t smart enough to judge you for your decision.

While I have already stated I have no idea what it’s like to be black, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I know as much or more about racism than the white teens standing at intersections holding “Black Lives Matter” signs. God creates life. Therefore, life matters. If you feel the need to put any color in front of life matters, there’s a chance racism has played a part in your decision. Though I am pro-police after a 20-year career, I feel the same about Blue Lives Matter. It’s divisive. God creates life. Life matters. Period.

Aunt Jemima is coming off the syrup bottle. Uncle Ben is saying good-bye to rice. Lady Antebellum is changing their name to Lady A. The Dixie Chicks, who are long past being considered chicks, are changing their name to The Chicks. The Washington Redskins are changing their name to not offend the American Indians. Some folks are pushing hard to remove any historic statues if they think it represents anything anyone might be offended by. As an average to below average white guy, all these changes are stupid. They are history. Nothing more. Nothing less. All racism can only be found in one place. It can only be found in the hearts of ignorant people. It ain’t in things. It never has been.

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Chris Collett is a longtime resident of Cherokee County.

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