Hate Crimes and Why They're an Issue
I want to begin by saying, this is a subject that is close to my heart... as, I have family members who are multiracial. That said, the motivation for this article goes a bit deeper. I received an e-mail this morning from a human rights organization I'm involved with, letting me know about a man in Pennsylvania who was killed because he was Mexican. Before his murder, the boys involved (all white) taunted him with racial slurs and threatening any, other Mexican immigrant with murder, as well.
Like most people, I have to say... this is, by far, not the first time I've heard about something like this. We didn't really start hearing about these incidents until the last decade, when human right's organizations brought these situations to the forefront... and, thank God they did! Now, not only are people becoming more aware of what's going on, but some people are actually motivated to help do something about it. Unfortunately, it isn't enough.
Let's take, for instance, the Jena 6. This was a situation, in Arkansas, I believe, where 6 black boys were jailed for beating up a white boy. Not only were the 6 hastily arrested and jailed, but we find out, after the fact, that the white boy wasn't an innocent victim... like he was, initially, made out to be. The story came out, that... there was a long-standing history at the boy's school of racism and harassment against the black students, as well as the well-hidden fact that there was a tree at the school where only white kids could hang out at. So... to say this may have been an unevenly-stacked and anger-inducing environment for the black kids would be an understatement.
The question is... why were administration at this school so willing to jump the gun and have the 6 arrested, as opposed to suspension/or anger management counseling? What if the situation were reverse? What if it had been 6 white students against one black student? Who do you think would've come out of that situation "on top?" My guess is, the white students. No... not because I'm taking sides or I feel different toward the white student, as opposed to the black. It's because, I've LIVED these kinds of situations with my own family.
Is it o.k. not to hire a black man for the exact, same job as a white woman applies for? Sure- if it's because she has more on-the-job experience, or is more qualified for the job, than the man. What if those two, same people go for the job and the white woman is told to send her friends over (because there are more job openings), and the "friend" she sends is the black man?! The black man arrives and is, again, told there are no job openings. What do you do? This is the exact, same thing that happened to me, years ago. I made a choice, though. Instead of accepting a job I could've really used, I utilized that "teaching moment" opportunity to lay it all out, in front of the boss. I told him who I was, that the black man was my friend and that what HE was doing was, not only, wrong, but illegal! You know what that boss did? After regaining his composure, he offered us BOTH jobs! Needless to say, neither one of us took them.
Here's another scenario. A young, elementary school-aged child is at school. A classmate of his picks on him, relentlessly... to the point where he begins calling the child the N-word! The child being picked on becomes more angry as time goes on. No one around them seems to notice, or even care that he's going through this torment. One day, after school, the boy is walking home. Driving down the street, in front of him, are the "bully" child and his father. The child- IN FRONT OF HIS FATHER- yells the N-word at the child! The child looks to the father for help, but the father just laughs at him. What would you do? You're not on school property, so the administration and staff say, there's clearly nothing they can do. You're walking home alone, without other witnesses, so no one can vouch for you. Really, you're on your own. If this were your child, how would you feel?
From the situations I've been through, witnessed and read about, one thing stands out. Children are not BORN racist! They don't inherit that gene, the way someone with a mental illness might. RACISM IS TAUGHT!!! Like the alphabet and learning to read... children have to learn these behaviors over and over again- usually, from parents/or other people they're around often. Some might grow up hearing a parent talk about black (hispanic, asian, indian, etc.) people as if they're inferior to whites. Then, as they grow older, they begin to believe these lies themselves. Why do we, as a society, think it's o.k. to say/do what we want, in our own homes? We've been deluded into believing the constitution, and everything it entails, is everything... when, it's not.
If you want to get technical, the bible (the book written before any other, and comes from the true source of life) is the book we should be modeling our lives after. We are told to, LOVE one another. Throughout the bible, our fellow man is referred to as our "brother." Would we treat our blood siblings the way we treat other people? If so, there's a problem. If not, then... you get the picture.
There are things we, as human beings, can do to make sure hate like this does not continue. For one... EVERY ONE OF US (black, white, hispanic, asian, indian, etc.) needs to STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT! Do not allow one situation like this to go without incident. That does not mean risking your/your child's life just to make a point. However, you can still call 911, if need be. You can alert security, if that needs to be done. If you are able to say something to those directly involved (safely, of course), DO SO... especially when a child/children are with you. They will learn more in that, small moment than they will from any school text book!
Take time to teach children (yours, the ones you babysit, a friend's, etc.) about other ethnicities/races. Little things like, coloring the person brown, in a coloring book, instead of peach, is good. Do crafts, making people of all colors. When you buy books, get ones with a rainbow of colors. Why not buy a book that features an indian family, cooking a native dish? We hear a lot about eskimoes, but what do we REALLY know about the way they live? Anything... other than the fact that, they live in igloos? With older children, take them to the library and get a cookbook from another country. You can cook something from that country (and learn about those people) with them. Not only are these prime teaching moments, but they're fun, too!
The title of the article is "Hate Crimes and Why They're an Issue." Hate crimes are an issue, around the world, today, because... WE ALLOW THEM TO BE! Not many people stand up for what's right anymore. You don't hear many people, these days, telling teenagers (or younger kids) not to call other kids names or stop them when they say they "hate" someone because of the color of their skin (their religion, and so on). We've gotten away from the closeness of many, tight-knit communities/families, where we look out for each other, our children and our homes. That's sad. If, only, on this ONE subject people could come together... can you just imagine how WONDERFUL this earth would be, because of it?!!