I created this website to tell stories that anyone can find relatable. The hopes is that through my experiences, people reading my stories can better themselves, question status quo and sometime just have a laugh to brighten their day. There will be times however, that I discuss topics that are relatable even when people don’t want to believe that they are. Something that we can all relate to is the concept of racism. Although racism is seen around the world, because of deaths of people in police custody, increased gang activity across the country and issues on race and immigration highlighted in the upcoming presidential election, I want to focus on what’s going on in the United States.
I’m going to jump right into this topic. I will forego my usual short anecdote that leads into learning experiences. Regardless of the race or ethnicity of the people that made the comments below, here are some that I have heard personally:
“Where are your people from?”
“What are you? You must be mixed with something.”
“I love your curls, but then your hair would do that.”
“Why are black women so angry?”
“Did you pledge? You must be an AKA.”
“You’re not like most black people.”
“My parents would be alright with you.”
“She’s pretty, for a black girl.”
“You talk like a white girl.”
“Slavery was a long time ago. Can’t we get past that?”
“That’s why I don’t mess with redbones. Ya’ll are stuck up.”
And one of my all-time favorites:
“You think you're better than me? You think you're better than me just because you got a little s#it smeared on your face!”
Yes, these are comments and questions that I have actually heard. Keep in mind that where a person lives and common regional colloquialism people use, have much to do with the type of comments that are made. I am giving comments and questions that I have heard living in the southeastern region of US. This is not just a thing that happens to me, it happens to a lot of people. Many of these statements have even come from people within the racial and ethnic group to which I identify. Statements and comments like these breathe life into the (-isms) that plague our society. Racism, Sexism, Classism…you get the drift.
There is an (-ism) out there that effects EVERYONE. Let me say that again; There is an (-ism) out there that effects EVERYONE. Whether you are part of majority or the minority; the relatable aspect of life and learning is as simple as knowing that we are ALL human. Distinctions, classification, titles, groups, power or lack thereof are human constructs that are not innate. They are learned behaviors brought about by the need for humans to be able to take the world and everything happening in it in conceivable doses. This tactic comes as a two sided coin. Sometimes this approach to learning is necessary. Take for instance how babies should be cared for. Would you walk up to a 10 month old baby; hand them a suit, a laptop and car keys and say:
“Ok, so this is how it works. You're going to have to contribute. Take these things that I just gave you and make that happen. Good luck!”
No, of course you wouldn’t! Why wouldn't you do this? You wouldn’t do this because you are aware of human development stages and recognize that a child’s gradual development is dependent on their ability to perform the basic task to insure their survival. If a child is left alone, with no help to get food or shelter and even nurturing and care, it would surely perish. Small, conceivable doses are essential.
Why then do so many of us, during the times of helping a child through their development (feeding, playing, teaching, bonding) implant the seedy side of this same coin. We impart actions and comments in similar, conceivable doses the same way. We create distinctions, classifications, and titles infusing them into a child’s development. These thoughts and actions are imbedded into the very fabric of who a child is and will become. Remember, that a child grows up and what they learn becomes a part of their belief system and they will more than likely pass what they know on to the next generation. This continues the cycle of (-isms) that are present in society today.
There will ALWAYS be (-isms). Let me say that again; There will ALWAYS be (-isms). Please stop lying to yourself and to others saying that unfortunate circumstances, injustice and inequality will ALL be eradicated. We all hope for that. What is a more reasonable thought is that we can come together, create open dialogue and take measures to eliminate (-isms). This can open the door to a more tolerant, progressive society that is better equipped to handle (-isms) when they do arise.
I could offer up statistic, articles, research, and opinion columns about our social ills and what people should do to fix them. I won't bore you with that. I have a saying that I tell people when I sense opposition and discomfort to an idea being discussed.
“I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think”
It’s ok to step out of your “safe” zone on the side of rightness, between the rock of fear and hard space of not being enlightened. Change rarely comes by way of denial and ignorance. It is important that we are willing to learn and acknowledge where our social issues came from, where we are with those issues in the present and what steps we should take to break the (-isms) cycle. The key is to make sure people understand one another and although the experience of the other person is not their own, validation is a small step toward understanding.
There is a Dr. Suess video that has a simplistic yet powerful way to break down what is going on in our country right now. Yes, I said Dr. Suess. The video is part of his Dr. Suess on the Loose series and it was made after the book called “Sneetches.” Safe for all ages, this short story is impactful and all though it won’t end all of the (-isms) that plague our society today; it may just make what they are and how they affect our society as a whole a little easier to acknowledge and understand.
Credits to William Everette’s Youtube page.