I served as a volunteer this past weekend during a 5k event which took place at the local community college, and I had a blast. My primary job was to be out on the route directing walkers and traffic at an intersection, and I'm happy to say that no one got ran over by a bus. My small contribution was a success.
During the event I noticed several trash cans and recycling bins around campus, and realized that they were color coded. Signs clearly marked each one and read, "Recycling- Blue" or "Trash- Black". Sometimes the two were together, sometimes not, but the color coded theme carried from building to building as well as the outdoor areas.
My first thought was, "Well, that's smart. Now there is no questions about whether or not this bin is trash or recycle." We've all been in situations where we've looked for a trash can and been unsure if the bin we found was actually meant for that or not. I could appreciate the effort to streamline this across campus.
But then I remembered something and a little voice crept up inside my head.
This is 2016, and we have all been systematically trained to be offended by EVERYTHING.
I found myself wondering how many people out there are offended by the fact that the trash cans were black. Couldn't they have been purple? Orange? Polka dotted? I don't doubt for a second that someone out there would turn this into a civil rights issue, and that person could be from any race. I am writing this as a blonde white woman, and I can tell you with first hand knowledge that no race, creed, or nationality has cornered the market on losing their shit over something like this. Everyone is capable of it.
The voices of folks who spend too much time on social media filled my ears. I know because I also spend too much time on social media and have to listen to their constant outrage. "How dare they label the dirtiest parts of our lives as 'black'! Black lives are not dirty! They are not trash!"
As I thought more and more about this, I began to chuckle. This is ridiculous. It's a color coded trash can. That giggle turned into full on laughter, but my stream of consciousness continued...
WE SHOULD ALL BOYCOTT BLACK TRASH CANS! WE SHOULD ALL BOYCOTT ALL TRASH CANS!
Who out there is ready to propose that we would all be better off throwing out garbage on the ground before we use a black trash can? People all over that campus could put their trash on the ground next to the bin just to prove their point. I can hear them now saying, "It's more than a trash can! World pollution is the price we have to pay to make sure the world is rid of shockingly offensive trash cans!"
Take a breath. There is real, horrific, actual discrimination going on every day in our world, and people out there are spending their time boycotting things like trash cans. While no one was actually upset this weekend over the black and blue bins, I think many of you can understand how my mind could easily picture that scenario. Like most jokes, I found myself laughing because it's true. This is the world we live in, but we all have the opportunity to change that.
Imagine a world where people left the picket line and joined the walkers raising money for causes like curing multiple sclerosis. MS is my fight (though no, I don't have it myself), but what will your's be? I like to tell people that MS is a silent disease, and it makes me want to get really noisy. What good can you do if you focus that energy to get noisy about the things that matter into real change.
Go do some good today.
You can always find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. As I said, I spend too much time on social media, but my favorite parts of that is hanging out with my readers. I love hearing from you!