Regardless of Race: People are People
"What can we do to stop the dreadful disease racism that's killing the world?"
"And the second [commandment] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. " -Matthew 22:39
In one word: Understanding.
- ...people are people, regardless of their color.
- ...everyone has something to contribute to society.
- ...one's behavior affects how one is seen.
- ...God desires to give good thing to mankind.
- ...there is no need to fight for supremacy.
"Dude! Look at you! I'm the Mexican and you are darker than me! You have been in the sun too much. Wear a shirt."
-This was the most racist comment I ever heard growing up.
Growing Up Without Racism
Growing up on the plains of Colorado, in a farming community, most of the people I associated with were white, but not every one was. However, most of my classmates did not recognize this.
The area I lived could be referred to as color blind. The color of a person's skin meant nothing. Well, almost nothing... In the spring, you could hear cries of "Nice tan!" up and down the halls, between classes, after a warm weekend.
The color of a person's skin made no difference on how you were viewed, treated or accepted. How you behaved was much more important.
Did you treat people well? Where you good to your mother? Did you drive respectfully? Could you be counted on to keep your word, and do your best? Were you responcible?
General hygiene was imperative. If you smelled bad, no one wanted to be around you. Dirty, unkept hair, and unbrushed teeth would get you shunned.
Being rich or poor made little difference on how you were treated by your classmate, or people in the area. If you were kind and respectful, clean and genuine, you were accepted. Being outgoing and able to take a joke would ensure friends.
Did all of this lack of racism make for a very friendly town, free of conflict?
No. Everyone was judged for the person they were...
There were those who tried to take advantage of the non-racism of the town, and threw their color or statues around, threatening to sue for 'discrimination' when they didn't get their way. These individuals eventually broke the law to the point that they were hauled off to the states mental hospital, but in the meantime, it made everyone wary. Can you trust a homeless person, or a traveling man?
Tales from the Plains
I would like to give you a few illustrations, to show how little people noticed color, and the impact it had. As an introvert people watcher, I think I saw more than most.
"Are You Black?"
It was the time of year when science projects took precedence over other school work, and students roamed from room to room, conducting surveys and completing tests. One student had heard that one's Continent of origin could be identified by their fingerprints. He was collecting data to prove or disprove this theory.
Most students showed to be of European or Greek decent. Then, the pattern relating to Africa showed up. In surprise, the student looked at the girl, who he had just fingerprinted, and asked, "Are you black!" Taken back, she looked at her hands and replied, "No, both my parents are white."
The guy sitting next to her blurted out, "I'm black."
This caused almost everyone in the room to stare at him for a moment. Then there was a chorus of "Wow! You are," and, "Cool. Are there any other blacks in the school?"
The poor kid looked flabbergasted, then relieved. Finally he answered, "My brothers."
He had been part of the school for several months, and had made few friends. I had talked to him enough to know he thought it was because of his color, even thought I had tried to convince him otherwise. (Most referred to him as "Mike, the new guy," or "Mike, the guy with curly hair.")
After class, he pulled me aside, and said, "So those guys in shop really were giving me a hard time because I am from Denver! You were right!" After that, he dropped his guard, and made friends.
"What is Your Ancestry?"
Another year, there was a girl from New York who came to school with us. She was very curious about every one's background. As she saw much variety.
At first, when she asked, "Where are you from?" Most told how long they had lived in the area or what town they had lived in before. That did not satisfy her question, so she probed deeper, telling how her father was an American and her mother a Korean. This made people curious, and soon everyone was comparing notes, on where their ancestors had come from, and how many nationalities they were made up of.
The overall effect on the school was that we finally had an identity that reached beyond the farming community. Everyone had a story of bravery and adventure in their past. It gave fuel to the fire to be a somebody.
My Own Ignorance:
Growing up, I thought Martin King, Jr. Day was the dumbest holiday! How could we possible celebrate a man's life who had whined about racism, 100 years after his kind had been declared free. 100 years after slavery had been abolished. What good could have he possibly done? As far as I could tell, he would have only been stirring up old hurts; not helping them to heal. After all, look at Bill Cosby. Weren't we all the same?
It was not until I began reading books based on the 1940's through the 1960's that I saw what a great man King was. I was completely amazed that the racist attitudes had persisted for more than 100 years. Amazed and saddened.
And One From the City
People are generally uneasy about things that they are not familiar with. Holes and tunnels, dark rooms and places they have never been before, people they have never met. This is different than being racist, or even predigest. It is caution.
Is He Dangerous?
Once, in the 80's, on a trip to Denver (a rare occurrence), we got lost. Not lost lost -- we had a map, but my dad was not finding the store he was looking for. After driving up and down narrow streets for some time, my dad saw a group of teenage boys on a side street, and decided to ask them for directions.
He manuvered our light blue 'boat' of an old car into a small parallel parking space, instinctually putting his wallet into the holster on his leg and pulled his carpenter pant back over his combat boots, before getting out. He calmly strided toward the young men, but they began to back up. The closer he came, the more huddled they got. Realizing that he was scarring them, he loudly asked for directions. They sighed with relief, and quickly pointed him out of their neighbor hood -- to the store he wanted.
As he got back in the car, removed his wallet, and smoothed his hair under the rim of his booney hat, he asked, "Am I scary?"
We didn't think so, and therefore wondered why those boys in baggy clothes had been so nervous. My dad was quite concerned, and told the story to some friend who lived in Denver, showing them, on a map, where we had been. They looked knowingly at each other, then explained that we had been in a "very bad part of town," and that those young men were, most likely, part of a gang.
We had a good laugh over this.
We all want to be recognized for what is special about us. We don't want to be picked on for our weaknesses. We are all people. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you are good at and excelling in it. However, when we say we are better than someone else for something that we have no part in, and treat some one badly for not being like us, that is discrimination, and discrimination is the bases for racism.
When seeking to eliminate racism one cannot eliminate personal responsibility. There will always be a distrust of those who pose a threat. If you do not want to be discriminated against, do not endangered others by your behavior.
There will always be discrimination in a world where people refuse to take personal responsibility and look out for the good of others. There will always be fear, when one group of people bully another. This could be eliminated if we would follow the golden rule:
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
-Matthew 7:12, King James Version
"...this is the law and the prophets." Do you realized the power in that one little statement? It means that the majority of the Old Testament is a written guide on how to treat others as we would like to be treated! A majority of the Bible would not be needed if we would treat one another right.
"What can we do to stop the dreadful disease racism that's killing the world?" Trsmd asked. My answer:
" 7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. "
By understanding that God desires to give people good things, we can quit fearing those around us and fighting for our own supremacy. This is not the easy rout. This is the narrow way, and it leads to life.