Okay-I’m about to open a big ole can of worms…..Last month my fiancé and I rented 12 years a slave and I found it to be a profoundly disturbing movie. It was so awful to watch, it simply hurt my heart and soul to think of someone treating a fellow human being like that. Worse, the movie presented people who considered themselves to be good, God-fearing Christians, yet they not only stood by and accepted or tolerated such evil, but many actively participated in the horrors of slavery and the brutality of a race of people simply because their ignorance allowed them to believe someone was inferior because of the color of their skin.
Even though slavery is a thing of the past in this country (sadly it still exists in some places in the world) Racism is alive and well in our country. Just turn on the news this week and you will hear about the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. I know about racism because I see it every day. I teach in a racially diverse school, in a state known for intolerance.
The stain of racism is not limited to any one particular group. As a nation of immigrants, our treatment of Mexicans and individuals from other Central and South American countries is disgraceful. One need only look at the SB1070 controversy to see that. History has shown us countless examples of ethnic groups who have been mistreated to one degree or another. Last month, the SAT’s came out with data on the enormous racial gap in scores. It is astounding the difference that race still makes in our society.
Many well-meaning individuals will say things like, “racism is a thing of the past, I mean we have a black President” yet this current President has been treated with more open disrespect than any previous President in the last century. People don’t just disagree with his policies – they viciously attack his character and compare him to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. Even respected members of Congress shouting “you lie” during a Presidential speech. It does make me wonder how much his race plays a part in the criticism.
Are there systemic problems with government assistance programs? Sure. Do we need to hold individuals more accountable for their actions and decisions? Sure. But let’s not kid ourselves, racism is very real and very present in our society.
We also have situations where there are well meaning individuals, in their desire to eliminate racism, they have created an almost reverse racism. I witnessed an incident this week, where someone was allowed to say, “I don’t like you because you are white” which in my opinion is as completely wrong as saying I don’t like you simply because you are black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. In no way am I suggesting that racism is not a very real challenge, but there are some situations where the desire to eliminate any form of racism has created an almost double standard. No one, of any color or race, should be allowed to be hostile or disrespectful to anyone, no matter what their race. Words can be incredibly powerful and someone’s race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation or anything else should NEVER be a reason to dislike someone, without fairly judging who they are as a person based on that person’s actions.
“Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.”
― Muhammad Ali