Thursday, December 01, 2005

What I Have to Say About Racism

I've been thinking a lot about racism, how it affects me, my community, my children and thankfully, I have little experience with it. Of course, I could relate anecdotes that prove it exists, but duh. Racism exists. Good one, Mignon. A better question on this day, remembering what Rosa Park did 50 years ago, is why is it significant that I have seen little evidence of racism in my 33 years. It means that Ms. Park and millions others worked damn hard so that my daughter may never hear the word 'spic' unless in a movie. And my son may never see a burned cross, unless in a history book. And all those people didn't just work at it, but took enormous risks, made unimaginable sacrifices and suffered debilitating losses. What I realize, when I think about lynchings and burned crosses and white hoods, is that I will never have to take those risks, make those sacrifices, or suffer those losses. What risk is it to tell my cousin that his joke isn't funny? Am I making any sacrifice if I argue with my in-laws that the injustices suffered during Hurricane Katrina were proof of modern of racism? And what do I lose if I take my daughter to the more racially diverse parks in town even if the play equipment is broken? So so minor. It's almost laughable that I don't do these things when I think about what it meant to someone in 1960 to tell her boss a racist joke isn't funny.
So with this in mind, I will take my small risks today. And tomorrow. And then I will teach my children to do the same. My children will not see racism at its ugliest, but when it appears we will be armed and we will be prepared to fight our battles. Thank you Rosa Park, for making our battles so small.


Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

I don't least racism "back in the day" was right there, up front. Now, racism has gone "covert". It's still seeping around every day like the evil pointed out in the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil". What brought it home for me was my elementary school principle. When we enrolled our first "black child" at my school, he made all the teachers read "Black Like Me" to their classes. It changed my life forever.

12/01/2005 5:38 PM  
Blogger Montana1 said...

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12/01/2005 6:42 PM  
Blogger Montana1 said...

Or how about me, A Jew in Montana? Why am I still embarassed to tell people I'm Jewish? Or tell people that it's not okay to say, "Jew 'em down?" Why do I still have to hear people say that the Jews control the media and the banks in America (although there's a pretty good argument there, but it shouldn't matter.)

Racism in America is alive and well. I agree that it's more covert that it was 50 years ago. In fact, I would argue that race and religious differences caused most wars in the past. Now, corporate greed and $$$ have risen toward the top of the list.

My guess is that racism will not disappear in our lifetime. Racism sucks!

(Sorry, I had to delete my post and rewrite it because it had a few typos. No biggie...)

12/01/2005 6:46 PM  
Anonymous @Home in Dresden said...

I heard an old interview once with Rosa Parks. She said she was just very tired after working all day and wanted to sit down. Apparently all the "colored" seats in the back of the bus were taken.

It indeed takes heroism for the oppressed to simply do what most everyone else takes for granted. No one should have to live like that!

12/03/2005 7:21 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Somehow I missed this post last week. Don't know if you get e-mail notification. This is so thought provoking.
Racial tension and segragation are still fairly prevalent in the deep south. When I lived in Atlanta I saw it more often than I would have liked.
It's difficult to know where the lines are when both sides are wrong and spew hatred and sometimes violence.
You can't tell whether someone is a racist, or a criminal for that matter, just by looking at them.
It's a complicated situation and I think it will continue to get worse before it gets better.
But I guess that gets back to what you said about wondering if you're doing enough in the face of Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. I'm not sure I am.

12/06/2005 5:25 PM  
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