Racism Today: A “White Boy’s” Perspective
June/6/2011 I had to add a video to the end of this hub. Be sure to check it out.
About the Author
I am white, pale in fact. I get flack from time to time for being a white boy. Ever been called a vampire for being so fair skinned?
Ironically, I have a grand mother who is black and I am a full quarter Native American. I grew up with strong Native American influence in mostly white communities. Family and genealogy were hot topics at home. My family considers our origin and history important. It helps us know where we are from and who we have become.
Naturally I am in a position to see things from multiple angles.
What Does “Racism” Mean?
The dictionary describes racism as;
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
(found on dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/racism)
Let Us Explore This Shall We
Over the many generations our country has been around, there have been countless instances of racism. The nation was founded by invaders looking for their own piece of land to call home and stealing it from others. This was followed by the new owners of said land bringing in slaves and forcing people to do their bidding on stolen land.
The people who had their homes taken and who were taken from their homes were horribly mistreated. They were considered the inferior race because their military might was not as powerful and they were unable to defend themselves against the more powerful attacking army.
These days there are many people who seem to think the days of racism are long past. Since the days of Martin Luther King Jr (I love wikipedia, great resource. Make sure you check the sources though.)
Some people believe such strides were made to break down the barriers of race that there is no more problem. Contrariwise, there are many people who are of the opinion that things are as bad as ever if not worse. They say that race affects everything from job availability, to basic courtesy, to police mistreatment.
My Experience With Racism
I have always lived in communities that are mostly dominated by white people. In the small county I grew up in, there were Native American reservations spread out between towns. It seemed everywhere outside city limits was off limits to white people.
I mentioned before that it seemed everywhere out of city limits was off limits to white people. The irony to this is that you could often hear local tribes complaining that they had no good land to work with because the white people took it all and would not give it back. I also heard the same tribesmen talking, outside the presence of the "oppressive whites," about how the white men only think they have the good land.
While some of the Native Americans I know are some of the most peaceful, successful and spiritual people I know, many of them squander what is referred to as “18 money” (because they get afforded this money from the government as penance for white people taking their land) on things they do not need, that they then do not take care of, and when it is destroyed they go back to working minimum wage jobs and never head toward ambition. The same people blame the white people in the area for everything that goes wrong and for the poor shape of their belongings.
I consider this form of racism the worst. People let their animosity for others, fueled by race, be their excuse for their own problems.
The Most Drastic Experience I've Had
The one that was most drastic was a black woman who was trying to get food stamps (I was there for the same reason.) The attendant at the counter gave her the paperwork and asked her to “please fill these out and bring them to me when you are done.” Just as she had said to me moments before; the woman was behind me in line.
The new applicant turned red in the face and said “You can’t treat me like this!” Without waiting for a response, she continued, “It’s because I’m black!” She pressed on forcefully, “You’re just trying to get rid of me. You don’t want me to get what I need because I’m black!” Again she did not wait for a response, “You b****! I want to talk to a manager! Get me a manager!” This same protest continued when the manager arrived. (he was on his way already because of the commotion) He introduced himself as a manager and she did not break stride on the yelling.
After several minutes of the manager saying things like “Everyone needs to fill out these forms” and “no we are not trying to keep you from meeting your needs” while the angry woman continued her tirade, she finally yelled “Damn white people! A**h*****!” and stormed out.
Granted, for me this was not a dangerous situation. But when it happened I realized for the first time how people let their beliefs about race get in their own way.
I have seen countless examples of the same kind of scenario. Most often there has been no reason I have seen for the "discriminated" to feel like they were treated differently in any way.
If You Think Racism is Dead;
take a closer look at things around you. Look at it a little differently.
It's not just about anger and abuse. It's about how we make it harder to get along based on things like skin color, hair color, cultural differences, and other misconceptions.
Programs to Stop Racism
These days, we have a number of legal obligations in place such as "Equal Opportunity Employment" that have a noble intent. I think they fall short. In this particular legal precedent for example, do you know what it means to have said status? Simply put; the company promises to match the local demographic. If they do not have an equivalent percentage of all races, ages, and genders working for them as the local population, they are penalized. Naturally this leads to hiring people who are of the appropriate race, age and gender to keep them in these stats. I worked for an Equal Opportunity Employer unloading trucks and distributing the product across the store. We were short staffed and they finally got a person to replace the last employee who left. The person they hired was a small young Latino woman, a new mother, who wanted to work in the clothing department. She could not lift much weight, she could not move fast and she did not have the drive to push herself as we all had to do every day. Now, she would have been fantastic in the clothing department, in fact, after she was transfered to clothing she did great. But she was a terrible fit for the unloading crew. But she fit that missing demographic.
My point here is this
People are racist and stupid and selfish. People are also kind, loving and brilliant. No matter what the color of their skin, or what they eat, or how they dress, what really separates us is how we treat other people. Not how they treat us. If you want to stop racism, you need to treat other people with respect and hope they are doing their best, whether or not you think they are.
Thanks for reading and I hope to read your comments below.