Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: On tolerance

This is from Ta-nehisi Coates' blog entry The Importance of Being Politically Correct.

Tolerance isn't just a value you hold, so much as it's something you do repeatedly. It's uncomfortable. You f*** up. You go to parties where they play music that you don't know how to dance to. You go to restaurants where the food is difference. You go to neighborhoods, where no one speaks English. The whole time people on the outside are laughing at you. The people you're trying to understand get pissed at you, and call you racist, homophobe, bigot, sexist etc.

But they ultimately respect you for trying. And you get better. You pick up bits of a second language. You learn to like the food, to enjoy the music. And then one day you look up, and lo and behold, it seems like the whole world is dancing to that same music, eating that same food.


Lorin said...

I like that quote. Normally I hate the word tolerance, though. I feel like its such a judgmental word. As in, I tolerate bad things because you can't/won't change. I prefer acceptance. As in, I accept that some things are different and I accept you. But I guess sometimes we have to go through tolerance to get to acceptance.

Laura Toepfer said...

That's a good point. "Tolerate" does seem a rather limited goal.

The thing I particularly like about that quote is the recognition that the people I am trying to understand may not appreciate my efforts, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.