How do we end racism?
Can we end racism?
My opinion on this may be quite simple. You may even call it naive or short-sighted but it is my opinion none-the-less.
I feel that the biggest way in which to end racism is to stop teaching and promoting it. That is, for us, the older generation, to stop giving the new generation a reason to dislike each other.
Look at the current “civil rights” leaders, the ones that appear in the news and the papers today. While they may hide behind this front that they are trying to teach the new generation about the past in order to prepare for the future, they are not. In fact, they are actually teaching them that because of what happened to their great-great-grand-fathers, they should, in some way shape or form, be eligible for some kind of handout. You see, they seem to think that the only way that we will overcome racism is for someone to be a victim and for someone else to suffer. This accomplishes nothing but creating more hate. Hate does nothing except breed and feed further hate.
I do not believe that anyone is naturally born with prejudice to one another… though there are those that will try to tell you differently, but I cannot see that as being so. When I was growing up, I was not aware that there was anything more than a difference in skin color between me and some of my friends… and that was not as important as, say, who was playing with what toy and when were they giving it back or if they were going to share. That is not to say that I did not notice the color or hair difference, I did, but it was never important until I grew older and started to be influenced by the adults around me.
My Mother was the best about preventing me from being influenced by the “wrong thinking” out there, but there was only so much from which she could prevent me from being exposed. There came the time that we were, as a family, attacked for being Jews. That was, as you might say, first taste of prejudice and hatred. Granted… I will not pretend that being singled out for being a Jew is the same as being singled out for being Black, Indian, Oriental, etc… at least as a white Jew, growing up in Taft, California, my religion was not written on my skin.
This was, however, when I first remember starting to notice the differences between people. Not in myself and how I acted towards them, but in the way that Non-whites where treated in Taft. You see, this was in the early 1970s and at the time Taft College had a pretty impressive course offering for potential students and the football team was equally impressive. Taft College drew in students from all over and as long as the non-white students stayed on the campus and kept winning football games, the citizens of Taft did not mind them being there. There were several times my Mother, who was a student there, would take me to the campus with her. I met all her teachers and her friends. They were of all colors and ages, so I had a very rich experience with the people I met through her. But to this point, even with the experiences I had had with the people who hated us because we were Jews, I had not had any experience with hatred because of race. That would come later, when my mother and I would move to Bakersfield, Ca.
For me, growing up in Bakersfield was not easy. My mother was newly divorced, we were in a town where we knew no one and on top of that we were had a limited income. The apartments in which we lived were in what was then the outskirts of town and the school that I went to had a healthy mix of races in it, something that I had not experienced in Taft. The funny part about this was that my teachers, whether or not they knew it, were the ones that started teaching me about racism. The way they treated the white students versus the non-whites, had a small but cumulative affect on me. I started seeing the differences more and more and I can even recall a substitute teacher once telling me that “black people do not bleed red, their blood is black.” Something that I learned was incorrect a few years later when I picked a fight with a black kid and scored one lucky bloody nose on him before he laid me out. Nope… his blood was as red as mine.
I guess that leads to the point I am trying to make here. All our blood is red… we all have the same hopes and dreams and wants. We all want to succeed and be better people. What does color have to do with that? It only matters because there are people out there who WANT it to matter. There are teachers, parents, politicians, etc… that feel that we have to keep digging up the past and our failings for the sole purpose of keeping that divide there. They push for the racial divisions and clashes because they know it will keep them in a job.
Do you really think that Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and their ilk want to rid the world of racism? Do you think that they, or those that are like them, would benefit from a world where people do not look at one another as races but as fellow humans? I would humbly like to submit the answer as NO. They would be out of a job if there were suddenly no further hatred based on the color of one’s skin. There would be no more money coming into their various causes to be paid to the people that help them or their special interests.
This might have been part of the reason, among others I am sure, that Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. I do not think that his ideals for the future of the civil rights movement were the same as those of the people that worked with him and I firmly believe that he, King, would be very disappointed with where the civil rights movement has gone today. People like King and like what Jesse Jackson USED to be, were the idealists, the people that might have truly helped to eventually end the need for such organizations. Yes… history will always paint people in a better image as time goes by, but the effects of the civil rights movement on the late 1960s and early 1970s is still fresh enough that many of us who are willing to really pay attention, can see these people for what they really were and not for what the contemporary historians are portraying them.
Going back to my own experiences and looking at my life growing up. I see that among the many gifts my mother gave me was the ability to not care what color you are to consider you a friend, enemy, lover, etc. I have had many friends though my life, and their race has never meant anything more to me than a side note in the friendship, something that only ever came up if someone else mentioned it. I have dated various colors and they have loved, laughed and lived no differently because of their color or nationality. I married a woman who happens to be of Cuban/Hispanic descent and the only reason her race has ever made a difference is on the rare occasions that someone has pointed it out to me.
While the political climate today has made the term cliche and almost a joke, I DO consider myself colorblind to people. Yes… I do see the difference between people, but the only time you will see me make a judgment based on a person’s race is if they are one of those people that feel that they need to live into the stereotype that has been created for them. I will chose not to go into the details about the type of people I am speak of or the stereotypes, but I think that all of us know or have met someone in our lives that fits that mold. They are an unfortunate lot and we can only hope that they will, one day, stop believing in what others expect of them and start believing in themselves.
So… my message to this and future generations. Stop listening to those that will profit from you being a racial statistic. Don’t accept that you are any less a person or any less capable because you are Black, Brown, Yellow, Pink, White or Olive. Start living above your racial classification and stop labeling others by their race. We should see ourselves as all being humans, nothing more, nothing less. We all share better than 99% of the same genetic material so we are all brothers and sisters. Once you look beyond the skin, we are all the same.
As always… thank you for your time and it is my sincere hope that this has touched or meant something to someone… anyone. If even one person can take what I have said here and try to practice it, then maybe… just maybe there is a better world coming. Maybe not for me in my lifetime, but for the generations that will follow.