“Diversity doesn’t mean black and white only.” Henry Louis Gates, Historian
“Life isn’t black and white. It’s a million gray areas.” Ridley Scott, Filmmaker
If the title of this blog seems contradictory, it was meant to be. It is clear that nuance seems to be largely MIA in our polarized society today. If you are not with me, you must be against me. If you are opposed to President Trump, you have to be a left-wing, socialist snowflake. If you support him, you must be as stupid as he is. If you oppose Black Lives Matter, you certainly are a racist. If you protest along with Black Lives Matter, you are a dangerous revolutionary.
Gray areas, neutral turf, the middle-ground all seem to be non-existant. Trevor Noah agrees. The host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show says the idea that there are only two sides to every story is misguided. He told CBS Sunday Morning that “if you only have two choices, people are always going to make one of two choices, which means people are automatically always going to be against each other.”
CBS spent a good bit of its time on this Sunday morning program dealing with the concept of nuance. The profile of Noah included a clip from his program wherein the comedian delivered a deadly serious monologue about the racial turmoil in our country. As a man born and raised in South Africa, Noah knows a thing or two about racism. He said he launched the stern monologue hoping to “explain the nuance of the situation,” meaning the racial divide. “Nuance,” Noah says, “means we have to talk a little more.” Until we recognize and appreciate the nuance that is the fiber of the American experience, we will have “the false impression that there is either this or that; there is only racism or not racism.” Neither and both, of course, are true. That’s nuance.
Another segment of the CBS Sunday program featured a pastor in Shreveport, Louisiana who has been working hard to bring black and white residents in various neighborhoods together. He has created a non-profit with the slogan “We Care.” The pastor admits it takes a lot of work to get people to trust each other. It takes “intentional acts of connected caring.” He says the phrase ‘random acts of kindess’ makes for a great bumper sticker, but “it will not stop the disintegration of the community.” In other words, it lacks nuance.
CBS also gave us the story of Daylan McLee, a strapping young African American in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. By his own admission, Mr. McLee has “a lot of animosity” toward police. He has had several runs-ins with them. But when a white Uniontown cop became trapped in his smashed and burning patrol car after a major collision, McLee did not hesitate. He ran to the flaming vehicle, wrenched open the destroyed driver’s door and dragged the officer to safety. Despite his past problems with police, McLee instinctly knew what was important. The young man put it this way. “I want people to start looking at everybody as Americans,” he said. “Not, he’s white, he’s black, he’s Asian. We are people and when we start realizing that, things should get better.”
Daylan McClee understands nuance.