Some days, I think we are almost making progress and heading toward a society that values each individual, regardless of their sex, color, gender, looks, weight, religion, nationality, etc. Other days, it seems like we’re peddling backwards.
I have a totally racially-mixed family. We have white, asian, and black family members, we have gay and straight, we have fat and thin. Both my children are racially mixed, as are my brother’s sons, because we were raised by a true ‘Christian’ father, who taught adult Baptist Sunday School for 36 years, and despite his being raised in the south, never taught us any racial prejudice.
And I love Paula Deen, I have some of her cookware, and I thought she was funny, and felt bad (but was not surprised) when her terrible diet undermined her health.
But as a white lady with wonderfully tan children, I see racial prejudice expressed openly all the time, because I’m invisible to the racists because of my fair skin and blonde hair.
So they feel free to tell horrible jokes, and make racial slurs in front of me, no apologies.
It is usually THEIR PROBLEM, not ours, but it quickly becomes OUR PROBLEM, when those beliefs are pushed on others to demean them, marginalize them, and make them feel less valuable. Or when it is used as the basis to not promote someone, to not care about someone, or even used as a justification to kill someone – like Trayvon Martin.
Unfortunately, both Paula Deen (who’s being tried in the media), and George Zimmerman, whose trial starts this morning, share this underlying prejudice. In the bottom of their hearts, clogged as they may be with saturated fat and butter, they believe that darker skin means that they are not the same as them, not as good, and not deserving of respect.
The worst thing about racists – whether they are named Paula, or George or Mitch, or Rand, or Donald, is that they have written off over half the world (really more, when you count women). The pain they cause others, will come back to cause them pain, and they will miss the joy of knowing and loving thousands of people who really ARE exactly like them.
It’s really all about Racism and Respect. The Cause and the Effect. The Problem and the Solution. I wish there was a way to evolve them, but, as Oscar Hammerstein put it,
“They had to be carefully taught”, and they were. Someday, maybe through the web, we’ll be able to create a better society where these external traits don’t color our thoughts AND actions!