Internal Conflicts: Quotes and Walt Disney

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Have you ever read a motivational quote and gotten mad about it? My current, as well as some of my previous jobs, sends out daily quotes.  Which are meant to be awe inspiring, motivational, and all that good stuff.  And I’m not mad at it in the petty sense that I’ve seen some people get upset about.  I’ve had co-workers who don’t like to feel like management is forcing some sort of agenda down their throats, and seem to have a huge vendetta towards anything non work related.  Meanwhile these are the same people who put scripture in their e-mail signature, but that’s another story.  The email in itself is not a big deal in fact I tend to overlook it on most days so it’s neither here nor there for me.  I don’t find most of the generic motivation quotes as inspirational as some might and therefore don’t live my life by them as other people seem to (via social media anyway, but we know how that goes).  But I do get the purpose of them and to each their own, whatever helps you be a better person.

My bout of frustration doesn’t come from the quotes themselves but more so the person being quoted and the underlying clause to this “oh so inspirational” saying.  For example today was “If you can dream it, you can do it” – Walt Disney.  Not a bad thing and I think is a great message to tell someone, especially a child, but what is not included in the email is the clarification to those words.  If you know anything about Walt Disney besides his commonly romanticized image as the innovator and dreamer we should all aspire to be, as with pretty much every other historical figure and story, you’d know he was not that perfect.  Some of the most beloved characters of all time were not really created by him but either rip offs or just plain stolen, and most relevant to my frustration he was a racist and a bigot.  Is it redundant to say both? Bump it I’m saying both.  The quote should be edited to say “If you can dream it, you can do it…unless you’re a nigger, jew, or menstruating woman”  or “…as long as you’re a white man”. Either or depending on how much word count space you have to put the quote in, I know some embroidery services charge crazy per letter prices.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy Disney movies and generally the entire empire the man built despite whether or not I would actually care for him as a person.  This probably applies to most folk because we all like films and works by people who, for whatever reason, we may not like on a personal level if we actually know the truth about them.  Does it make us morally wrong for enjoying them for entertainment purposes?  That’s a whole other conversation.  And I understand no one is perfect and I’m not out to hold anyone to that standard.  I also know that Walt is from a different time where his way of thinking was considered socially acceptable, but that also doesn’t mean I should just completely gloss over it though.  There seems to be several people out there on the internet that would shun me for not excusing him or really anybody else for that.  99% of whom I assume are white males and have no sympathy for oppressed classes, but this is not about Mr. Disney exclusively.   This internal conflict comes from being raised to praise and uphold people, whom are probably rolling in their graves at the fact that I’m even able to read their quotes, let alone write an opinion about it.  As a black man in America, the vast majority of historical, and heck even more recent figures, do not even consider me to truly be a human being.  So it’s kind of bothersome when you realize that the people you’re taught to follow, idolize, and support are probably cheering from the sidelines at all of the injustices that befall unto the minorities in this country; Blacks, Hispanics, Middle Eastern, Women, etc. (Women may not be a minority by the numbers but are definitely an oppressed class).  Yet at the same time, on a high level, there is some inspiration that can be drawn from their stories and it’s all in the past so how mad should I be?  Should I boycott Disney or other studios, companies, etc. or is it not that serious?  In more recent years as I’ve been traveling down a path of self-exploration and consciousness and I tend to find myself at crossroads like this often.  The saying “ignorance is bliss” is all too real because the more I educate myself it seems the more frustrated and conflicted I get.  But that’s just my perspective on it, maybe I’m overthinking it.

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