As I sit here with my father, his wife, my sister my cousin and his friend watching the halftime show, my cousin and father tell the group that they don’t see why she was chosen for this performance. They agree that she doesn’t “do anything form them.”
Knowing that my father is uncomfortable with anything that has to do with LGBTQ+ people or their allies/icons I raise my eyebrow, ready to jump into conversation defending the community. My cousin tells us that he doesn’t know any of “these” songs and he things that performers like James Brown or New Kids On the Block should be performing right now.
After just having read the course notes, I remember that one part of missing information has to do with decoding error. I take a step back and think about how I am interpreting the information that was just presented to me. I am looking at a black male in his mid 30’s who, I think just said something negative about Lady Gaga, an artist that I respect and that I believe has done a great deal in normalizing the LGBTQ+ community. I wanted to jump to defend her, I wanted him to know that he was being a bigot.
While I was in my short state of reflection, I thought about our different interests and so, I simply asked him “you don’t listen to this type of music, do you?” he responded with “no, not really.” There seemed no judgment in his voice. I knew that in this moment, I judged him based on my egocentric communication. I was so overconfident in my communication style that I didn’t take into account that others communicate differently based on diversity and cultural experiences. He wasn’t telling me that Lady Gaga and the LGBTQ+ community was somehow inferior.
I think that if it weren’t for having read the reading notes for this week, the conversation would have gone into a very different direction that may have blown something simple and non-confrontational into an argument that would not have gone anywhere.
So, how do we prevent this from happening again, how do I remember to take a step back when I am at work talking with a colleague that I disagree with, or reading an email that may come across as harsh or when I am drafting an email to a group of people that I don’t know?