Something About Racism
I’ve written about racism before but sometimes it’s good to take another look. Racism in its many forms is evil and unites the negative tendencies of mankind. Talking about it enflames and fans the fires by stirring up prejudice. I was reminded of that this morning by someone who felt it was her duty to remind me that racism exists in America. The intent of her words was for me to rewrite my blogs to conform to her worldview, like that’s ever going to happen.
I grew up in a world free of racism and prejudice. As a young child I worked the migrant fields with people, young and old of many different racial and ethnic heritages. We worked in the sun alongside each other. As children we ate and played together and were all one big happy family of working to earn a living. We weren’t poor because nobody told us we were. We weren’t privileged, just living life as it came, one day at a time.
When I joined the military I went to basic training there was Private Lawson the only black guy in my basic training unit. We slept in open bays, double bunkbeds, wall lockers and footlockers all issued the same gear, doing the same training and at times battling outside intrusion side-by-side. Whether drafted or volunteer we became a team, of many individuals to one unit. We were “E Pluribus Unum” in the flesh. The Vietnam War was in our future and we did our best to survive.
We came home to a different world. Many were met with protesters who didn’t care about the color of our skin. They spat on us, yelled obscenities at us and called us names (Sound familiar)? We arrived in our hometowns, the ones we’d dreamed about for so long while we were away, to families and friends who didn’t understand.
We were expected to plug back into the spot we’d left so long ago only now we were the square peg. We didn’t see the world the same. We’d experienced life as we’d never imagined. Met folks we never even knew or heard about. So I returned to military life and became a lifer.
During my 22+ years I rose to become a platoon sergeant and became mom and dad to many young troops. I didn’t see them as black, white or brown, but soldiers who did the job they were trained for or those who didn’t. The mission was my priority, yet not at the expense of my men and women. I treated them as I wished to be treated with respect and as individuals. I wasn’t the best platoon sergeant, but I tried to be the best soldier I could be and expected the same from each of them.
I faced prejudice then as I face it now with eyes wide open. Some people have bad experiences, while others create the bad experience. If you look through a glass with a filter of racism you will always find what you’re looking for. If you live life searching for the positive you will find that as well.
If you want to combat and end racism stop talking about it all the time and start doing things differently in your interactions with others. I used to hear people say “I wish they would go back where they came from” and although that may have sounded good to them at the time, it was not a thought out statement because we’d all probably be speaking Iranian.
I like the online response recently attributed to actor Morgan Freeman when asked how do we stop racism:
“Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man & I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” – Morgan Freeman
In the United States we call ourselves Americans. There is no need to attach a hyphenation ethnicity to the title American. I’ll bet that when you were born the doctor, midwife or paramedic did not say – “It’s a hyphenated-American”, but rather “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”.
There’s an online story about a headstone listing: Date of Birth – Date of Death. Do you want to be known by your “Dash” simply as a hyphenated-American or if listed at all to say you were an American?
I’ve been a lot of things in my life a Son, Brother, Cousin, Nephew, Soldier, Sergeant, Father, yet my greatest accomplishment didn’t come from any achievement of my own, yet it is the proudest title of them all – PAPA.
So you want to stomp out racism – start today. Don’t attack – Listen; Don’t force your feelings or prejudices on others. Change comes from within. BE THE CHANGE! – I am the Real Truckmaster!