Friday, February 13, 2009

Racism, part 1

I am an anti-racist. I despise racism, almost to a fault. I look Caucasian, and typically refer to myself as "white", but I'm mostly Cherokee, with Irish and German and other Anglo blood as well. My wife is Hispanic (Mexican), but as some people say, "she doesn't look Mexican".

Now when I say my anti-racism is almost to a fault, it's because I go almost literally full-circle and lap myself (yeah, I talk in my own language sometimes). But the truth is, I so despise racism that my comments sometimes sound "racist". For example, I take offense when people say that this person is the "first black man or woman" to do "this or that". Or the first Hispanic to do "this or that". It may be "historic", but I personally don't find it "significant". If you voted for Obama, I hope you did it because you felt he was the best candidate, not because he could have been the first black president. (More on Obama in future posts) I was confused by all of the emotion by the black community on Obama's election. Black Republicans were bawling and screaming in joy.

Granted, my ancestors were never enslaved (we only had our land stolen, were slaughtered over greed of resources; and were given a few square miles of unsustainable land as reparations), so I suppose I find it difficult to relate. But slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago. I don't think any living black man's great-grandparents were slaves. I know blacks were mistreated throughout the 60's, but so were Hispanics, Native Americans, and Japanese. Why is "black" such a bigger deal?

I grew up in a diverse neighborhood with Mexicans, whites, blacks, Asians, Middle Easterners, and other races I probably didn't even know their heritage. I probably didn't realize there was a difference in race until I was in my later elementary years. The fact is, it NEVER mattered to me. When you point out differences, it only draws attention to it. I had hoped my kids would grow up not recognizing a difference in race. However, the attention thrust upon racism with Obama's campaign forced the issue into our dinner conversations. I'm married to a Hispanic, so my kids are actually "mixed". Their best friends are the son and daughters of OUR close friends, who are also mixed (he's black, she's Puerto Rican), and they actually asked us the other week, "Is **** black?" And I had to get into the whole "everyone is a person; the color of their skin doesn't matter" speech. Another pair of their friends are the sons of yet another mixed couple (he's Mexican, she's black), and my son called one of them "brown" and the other "white" the other day. I was mortified.

My point in this post is that as long as we keep pointing out differences in race, sex, religion, age, or any other discriminatory characteristics, the more the younger generations notice. I believe it was the great Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that said (and I may be paraphrasing), don't set out to be the best or the first BLACK PERSON to do something; set out to be the best PERSON to do something. If you want to be the greatest quarterback to ever play football, then don't set out to be the best BLACK quarterback; you're shortchanging yourself. Be the best PERSON you can be, not the best at your race. Don't celebrate Obama's election as president because he's the first black president; celebrate the fact that you feel the best person for the job won.


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  2. Beatings, being hosed down w/ powerful and painful fire hoses, having dogs unleashed on them, sitting in the back of the bus, having to drink out of different water fountains, being treated like second class citizens and then later having crack brought into their communities during the Iran-Contra scandal. And that's just from Gov't officials at different levels. Don't forget about (or maybe I should say "you should read up on") the KKK and lynch mobs.

    No, you're right. I can't imagine why some people in the Black Community were elated to see a person of color elected after living through the horrors of the Jim Crow south.

    I can see why your wife encouraged you to write this blog.

  3. I didn't say I didn't understand their elation. My point is that I can't relate. Every race has been mistreated at some point in history if you go far enough back. But if a Japanese, Mexican, or Native American were elected President, you wouldn't see this huge emotional outpouring. Everyone knows what the Europeans...ERRRR...."Americans"....did to the "Indians" when they settled here. What about the Japanese who were placed into concentration camps? Or the Mexicans in the Southwest who to this day are still traded as sex and working slaves?

    I want to see racism eliminated and support to end the mistreatment of all human beings, REGARDLESS of race. I want to see the media quit focusing on race (how many times do I have to be reminded that Bobby Jindal is Indian?) in politics because it draws attention to physical differences. Base decisions of which leaders to elect or appoint on goals and policies, not on race or sex. Politics blows.