Posted by: inforodeo | September 10, 2009

On Race

 

     Tonight as I was waiting the 15 minutes for Obama to give his healthcare speech, I saw a strange sight: Michelle Obama, as she was walking in, reached out and hugged, made eye contact, or talked to every black person she saw, but avoided (even dodging a little old lady at one point) every white person who tried to greet her. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised … she is, after all, well-known for her anti-white bigoted ideologies … but I was surprised that she would still carry on like that, knowing she is a role model for school children and young women across the country! How is it that a black woman, living in our nation’s “castle”, sitting like a queen, can still harbor such hatred toward a segment of people?

     On a social networking site I use I’ve been receiving invitations to join groups or “friend” individuals who are clearly hate groups.  I realized this may be because I have “race” as a keyword, and I subscribe to “conservative” political group websites.  Drawing the conclusion that I subscribe to some racial supremacy ideology, however, is terribly wrong!

     I don’t believe that any race or gender is “superior” to another.  I believe in the words in our Declaration of Independence that “all Men are created equal”.  I believe our Creator stands behind this phrase. While we may be created with varying types of talents, skills, afflictions or weaknesses, we all have equal potential to live in the world and gain the knowledge from this mortality that we need to help us get back to Him. As part of the great and mighty plan set forth by our Creator, we have the agency to choose from right or wrong, to suffer the consequences of those choices, to have charity or be selfish, to love or to hate, etc.

 

     Terrible things have been done to people of one race by those of another.  Persecutions, genocides, slavery, and discrimination have appeared throughout history.  The same can be said for cultures and creeds. These things are done because one group wishes to assert power over another, and usually some sort of prior injustice  – whether real or perceived – sparks the initial flame. The feelings are usually widespread but ‘dormant’ until some charismatic leader comes along and stirs people to action.

     I believe that racial discrimination will end when we cease to make choices based on color. Yes, the experiences and even some physiology vary between races, but none indicate one race being superior to another.

     I also believe that it is a dangerous kind of ignorance to continue to believe that Caucasians are behind every incidence of racism in America.  In the past decade, more and more racially motivated hate crimes have been perpetuated by non-whites against whites and other non-whites. Surprisingly, many crimes said to be “race crimes”  have turned out to be staged by the “victims”, or staged as hate crimes to distract from the identity of the perpetrator (as in the recent facebook white supremacist blogger who was black) or to satisfy some other agenda.

     Racially-motivated crimes and discrimination still happen, but nowhere near the frequency of the 1960’s and before. Because there is a history of hate crimes making "news”, the media jumps at the chance to expose any new incidences, sometimes inflating the story, and certainly contributing to the rash of counterfeit hate crimes I mentioned above. As a result, the public is under the impression that hate crimes are continuing at the same pace as they had historically, even while actual incidences are far below prior numbers and decreasing with time.  This does a disservice to those who fought so bravely for civil rights and racial equality, because newer generations who sense the inflated angle of such news are more likely to attribute historical acts of true hate crimes or activism to “enhanced” news also.

     In “Post-Race America”, we are seeing a resurgence of racial discrimination and intimidation.  During the election, black panthers in PA stood outside polling places with weapons, saying things like “prepare to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”, and across the country whispers of a “race war” were given as threats to whites by some blacks. My own little sister was told to “hurry home from work” the night of the election – implying she should rush home and hide rather than vote. Voters who were considering voting for one candidate with more experience, but white, and the other with less experience, but black, were accused of being “racist”.  Personally, I don’t know a single white person who cared what Obama’s skin color was – they were casting their votes based on issues, experience, and (in some cases) the integrity of the candidates, not race. 

     A few months after the election, there were two major news stories involving accusations of racism. In the first, several children’s day cares lost access to a city swimming pool, so a private swimming club invited them to use their pool. When the president of the club realized they were dangerously understaffed, and when paying club members complained about the noise & crowding, the day cares were told they couldn’t return, and provided with full refunds. One day care that was predominantly black decided the white club president was being racist, and went straight to the local news to accuse him of being such. Children were interviewed and said they “didn’t know why” they were disinvited, and day care leaders claimed they didn’t care what the reason was, those kids needed to swim … but a week later, after the story had risen to national attention, the kids were now saying rehearsed remarks about club members “worried they might steal something”, and remarking about their race.  The club invited the day cares back (after hiring additional lifeguards), but the day care refused, and a few days later announced they were going to file a federal discrimination lawsuit against the private club who had, out of charitable intentions offered the use of their pool.

     This story was tossed aside, however, when police responded to a call from a concerned neighbor who saw two men suspiciously breaking into a home. The renter of the home had either lost his keys or had a stuck door (the stories varied) of his recently rented home, and had to force the door open. When police asked him to step outside, he refused and told them to leave him alone. When they asked for identification, rather than give it to them (like any normal person would have done), he refused and became belligerent. Because he was black and the officer that he spoke with was white, the man – a university professor – accused the officer of “profiling” and of racism when he was ticketed.  The media (as expected) jumped on the story, and soon people were calling the woman who called 911 a racist, as well as the officer, and the President of the United States himself (in the pillar of government whose job it is to enforce the law) called the arresting officers “stupid”.  It turned out later that the supposedly racist officer was a race-relations instructor, and the woman who made the call – who was Hispanic – had not mentioned race at all, except to say “one of the men looks Latino”.

     While one could look at these two stories and see the misunderstandings they represent, it is important to be keenly aware that these stories also represent socially accepted prejudice: the pre-judgment that all whites don’t like minorities and are “out to get ‘em”. They represent the militarism and fanaticism that propels these bigots to filing lawsuits, going to the media first, and indoctrinating children with their message of paranoia and hatred.

     Do I think minorities are all “bad apples” who are out to make a buck? Not at all! Most are good, hard-working people who do their best to contribute to society.  Most of those who aren’t sincerely believe that they are being persecuted and taken advantage of. 

     I know what it is like to be persecuted. Due to our family’s economic status, my father’s job, my lack of social skills and the particular religion we belonged to, I felt discrimination and persecution frequently!  I know what it is like to be an unfavorable epithet, to feel persecuted whenever a certain word is used, even when it wasn’t directed at me. Vandals used to spray-paint our church, shoot bullets into its windows, shoot arrows into its roof, and once even broke in and scattered bloodied dead rabbit carcasses in our chapel. Almost daily I had to sit by a kid who would tell me how his uncle would kill people like me. I heard strange (and untrue) stories about my religion, and at town fairs and other special occasions people from other faiths would march and hand out little cartoon books filled with lies about my church, their stories always ending with us “going down to hell!”  Television and movies routinely portrayed vicious rumors about us (I watched an episode of the X-Files tonight, as a matter of fact, that had a thinly veiled plot mocking our faith), and even this year I sat in three college classes where three different professors commented (ignorantly and falsely) on my church.

     What if that were my race? What if the dead rabbits spelled out the N-word or were wearing traditional Mexican clothing? What if a student were telling me his uncle would kill me because I was black? Or my college professor told me “You ____ all stick together”, and another gave a short lecture about how we all eat watermelon and fried chicken while collecting welfare checks? 

     The truth is, most minorities in the US today – most people my age and younger – have never experienced these things. Sure, someone might ignore you and go talk to someone of their own race at a party, but doesn’t everyone do that? When I worked in a major West coast city, my corporate job had me in a call center that was predominantly minority and I was regularly ignored, both on a social level and in my workplace recognition.  As frustrating as it is, when we don’t have anything in common with the masses, we can’t hold it against them for not palling around with us.

     Believe it or not, this herding mentality has more to do with culture than with the genetic qualities of race. Culture is made up of a lot of things: language, dialect, gestures, clothing styles, music, dance, social etiquette and activities, grooming, art, etc.  Pretty much anything that can be used to define a type of person and is not a trait that arrived at birth could be considered ‘culture’. Gay culture has its lisp, its flamboyance, its hairstyles, its Bingo and Disco. Cowboy culture has its boots, its swagger, its minimalist speech and stoic mannerisms. Some minority culture has slang and language, threatening body language intended to intimidate, suspicious body language intended to look suspicious, and different activities of esteem that are criminal (drugs, firearms, rape, assault, graffiti). With that culture often comes violent music praising the things outlined above, as well as parental indoctrination: teaching kids by example and rhetoric to not trust authority, to talk-back when questioned, to use profane language, to run when you see the police.

     I said “minority culture”, but it has nothing to do with race. Whites, Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Native Americans all have some portion of their population who hates the government, obsesses over hip hop or has gang mentality. Even that doesn’t really encompass the multi-racial minority I’m talking about.  “White Trash” and “Mexican Gangs” might listen to different music or wear completely different clothing styles, but the parental indoctrination, criminal activity, distrust of authority and other aspects may be quite similar.

     These “cultures” are what cause crime – not the races themselves. When you have a white youth who has no grasp of civics, no desire to integrate and contribute to the community and be an upstanding citizen, you’ll get the same person you’d have if you take a black youth or an Asian youth and expose them to (or withhold them from) these experiences and values: a criminal.

     I believe that all races are equal, and it is culture that needs a closer look.  I think that discriminating against someone because they are not a minority is as degrading and damaging to society as any other display of bigotry. I think “diversity” is the wrong word to use when describing “everyone but straight white males”, because whenever you exclude one based on their genes, you are discriminating against someone. Along this line, I believe that any time you raise up one group, you cause another to suffer … and I’m not just saying this because I am the most discriminated against demographic in the land (white+male+heterosexual+Christian)!

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