If I had all the time in the world to throw myself behind a cause, it would be to stop the race baiting being done in this country. I know things are not perfect, but there are advances and mistakes on both sides.
For the record, yes, I am white. Let me tell you of my first hand experiences:
1. My very first experience with people of color was when I was about 4 years old. I was sitting in the car with my little sister, who was three. My father had run into a store to buy something quickly. (You could do that back in the 1960’s.) He was gone about 2 minutes, when a group of teenagers came over to our car and started banging on it, and saying, “We’re going to get you and beat you up!” When they saw how terrified we were, they yelled, “Suckers!” and walked away laughing. When my father came back to the car 2 minutes later, we were too scared to tell him what had happened.
2. There was a little boy who lived next door to my grandparents. We kids were outside playing with him. My grandmother came running out the door, and yelled, “Don’t play with him, he’s a &^%$!” I had never heard that word before, but by the look on his face, he had.
3. My text book in school, approximately 4th grade said, “While some people mistreated and beat their slaves, most of them treated the slaves well.” Yes, it was really in a school textbook! Obviously, this needs to be changed! I hope they are not still using this textbook!
4. In my twenties, I worked in a hospital. We hired a new guy, who was Black. He told me that all the Blacks wanted was “a piece of the pie.” I was stunned. I tried to explain to him that there is no pie, that we struggle from paycheck to paycheck, we run out of food, we run out of money. I also noticed that he seemed to act as if he didn’t belong; if we were having donuts or bagels, we would invite him several times to come back and join us–he was welcome to whatever we were having.
5. Many years later, I worked with a Black woman who told me of racism she had encountered. She signed up to take a class at college, and the first night of class, the professor walked in, turned to her and said, “You don’t belong here!” He was from India, and he said in his country dark women were the lowest of society. I told her, “Maybe he should go back to his country, he’s in my country now!” She was a nice woman and I liked her very much. She was kind and helpful to me at the workplace.
6. When Obama won the election in 2008, I remember walking down the street and noticing African-Americans holding their heads a little higher. Another woman I worked with explained, “I always told my daughter that you can be anything you want, even though it wasn’t true. Now, it is true.”
My cause, my task, would start with EVERY school student REQUIRED to read, “Before the Mayflower“.
7. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY IN THE UNITED STATES WAS PERSONALLY A SLAVE. Can we please move past this? If you read the above mentioned book, you will learn that the Irish were sometimes treated WORSE than slaves, because a slave had value; an Irishman didn’t! They would send the Irish to do the worse jobs, because if he died, there was nothing lost. And MANY died. The Irish were refused employment and many businesses posted signs, “Irish need not apply.” Job discrimination? You bet.
On the other side, I KNOW that there are improvements that need to be made!!
1. In an inner city, I know of one teenager who lives just a few hundred feet from the “school bus” cutoff. He has to walk a mile and a half to school! How do you suppose YOU would do, if you had to walk a mile and a half to school in the freezing winter without a proper hat and gloves? (I worked with my church group to donate over 150 hats and gloves to kids in this particular inner city.) The bus protocol needs to be changed!!
2. In a different inner city, a group African-American kids did not value education: they used to knock the books out of my cousin’s hands and rip up his notebooks. He had to have a separate set of notebooks at home, and copy his notes each night.
3. Everyday, there is black on black crime, black on white crime, and white on black crime. Why did the media pick the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman trial to play 24/7 ? Do you suppose this was purposely picked by the media and powers that be, to keep us fighting??
There are no easy solutions; I don’t pretend that there are. As for myself, I go out of my way to say “good morning” or “hello” when I see an African-American in the library, or at the gym. It’s not much–but we have to start somewhere. If we can acknowledge each other as human beings, with problems, hurts, fears, hopes and dreams–maybe we can move past this. Maybe in our lifetime.
- White Slaves in America Outnumbered Black Slaves – Bet you didn’t know that did you? (unifiedserenity.wordpress.com)
- MSNBC Has Full Deck of Race Cards (thedailyblogreport.wordpress.com)
- Irish are ‘the forgotten white’ slaves’ claims expert (macseafraidh.wordpress.com)
- Hidden History: The Irish Slave Trade (zengardner.com)
- The First Legal Slave Owner in What Would Become the United States was a Black Man (todayifoundout.com)