I have been privileged, most of my life, to not experience racism in any form. The only minority group that I am a part of is the Jewish religion. But nobody has ever insulted or degraded me because of my religion. All the discriminatory or offensive moments have been minor and relatively harmless. I come from, what I believe to be, a very tolerant and diverse area. Granted, I could be wrong about this. There could be a lot of prejudice and racism that I’m just not aware of. But, for the most part, I surround myself with people of all religions, genders, and ethnicities. Racism isn’t something I see in my daily life.
Today I went up with my mom and one of her best friends to a more conservative area of Pennsylvania. Almost everyone there was older and white. The whole atmosphere and vibe was entirely different than the Philadelphia area, which is where I live. Well, I live in the suburbs right outside of Philly. There were farms everywhere too and everything smelled like cow poop. It was really neat seeing the cows and horses though. And the food up there was great. There’s nothing racist about this story in and of itself. Just because the area is Republican and most of the residents of the town are white doesn’t make the town racist. That would be a prejudice assumption to make. Even if the town did seem like something out of “The Music Man”. But my mom’s friend sure as hell was. Her friend who I’ve grown up around. She spoke disdainfully of the few black people in the restaurant just because they were black and spouted out all the islamophobic garbage that you find coming out of Fox News and President Trump’s mouth.
The weird thing was, her arguments and beliefs did not inspire any form of rage or anger within me. No righteous indignation whatsoever. What it did inspire in me was confusion. Why would anybody be presumptuous enough to believe that someone was else was inferior to them based on the color of their skin or their religious beliefs? Especially when she admitted to not actually knowing anything about the Islamic religion. What makes having paler skin denote superiority? It makes zero sense. It all just seemed to come down to one simple fact. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.
I won’t pretend to be a scholar on this subject. I know a bit about systematic racism. I know about the Civil War. I know about the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. I know about the current “Black Lives Matter” movement. I know about the whole police brutality thing, the fact that screening people at airports is an issue, and that minorities are underrepresented in the media. I know the KKK is somehow still a thing despite being flat-out evil. I know a lot of black people are discriminated against in the workplace. I know a lot of Obama hate stems from latent (or not-so-latent) racism. The fact that, in 2017, this is all still an issue is frankly ridiculous. Is it really so crazy to think that everyone deserves equal rights? That we all deserve to be treated with respect? That we’re really not all that different? I’m not going to pretend that I don’t see race. I’m not blind and I know I can’t compare life experiences. But we’re all humans. We all deserve respect. I don’t choose who I associate with based on race, religion, gender, sexuality…I base it on who is a genuinely nice person, who treats me with respect, and who I want to spend time with. Simple as that.
I know this is a sensitive subject. I don’t mean to offend at all. I usually don’t partake in discussions on racism because I don’t think I’m the right person to talk. Unless someone makes a totally bullshit argument that’s so unbelievably wrong that I can’t stay silent because what the hell? I’m honestly so tired of this issue and the fact that it’s still a thing. As a kid, I thought that we had sorted this all out by now. Guess not. Also, Dumbo is a fantastic movie. But man were those crows racist. The old Disney movies in general. Incredibly racist and sexist. I still love them, but some parts are painful to watch. Who makes the red man red? It’s hard not to cringe.