Saturday, August 23, 2014

ARE AMERICANS RACIST?

Crossing the Divide

A few years ago, when I was beginning my Sociology class, the thought of having to write about racism was hard for me. Growing up I was a quiet person, introverted, and didn't like to express my opinions in fear of backlash. Now that I have matured, or at least I hope I have, I can openly share my opinions without this fear; this just isn't the case.

Everyone has an opinion and has a right to express their opinion, living in the US we have this right. Unfortunately today, many are fearful to share their thoughts because they fear those individuals that would attack what they have to say. Let's just clear something up right here: I do not condone trolling. I welcome and love comments and feedback but will not tolerate any form of bullying.

With that being said, how do we cross this divide without offending anyone? It is difficult when we discuss sensitive issues because this is a topic that is personal. If we want real change, we have to endure the difficulties to evolve as a united people. Meaning, we have to work through this, educate ourselves and spread knowledge and love, not ignorance and hate.

"Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:14 ESV

"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." Proverbs 10:12 ESV

So, to dive right into racism, lets consider a core aspect; how does racism develop?
We are not born racist. A child can distinguish that their skin color may differ from others, but just as one flower is different from another, they do not condemn the flower for its origin or originality.
The fact that racism is a learnt behavior makes me feel nauseous; that individuals have this amount of disrespect or disdain for someone literally makes my soul weep.

I also remember learning in one of my classes, that some can argue that (to a degree) an attribute to racism is an evolutionary gene. As we have learned to evolve and adapt to our environments, we  have had to survive certain aspects; it is genetically written in our genes to be weary; I think of this as intuition (Evolution Since Darwin, PBS 2001). We know we have to eat and drink to survive etc. Just some food for thought.
Do I believe that racism is genetically encoded? Absolutely not.

As we are born, we are automatically entered into the societal spectrum of judgments and categorized aspects of subjective groupings. Firstly, we are either born male or female; our first category as a general example. Meaning, that society has this huge capacity of control.  What does this say for a society then? It tells us that our society tolerates and promotes racism.
Until society as a whole extinguishes the stereo-typical verbiage racism will continue.

Unfortunately, people have the media blindfold holding them prisoners of contempt. Not everything we see and hear on television is truth or should be considered acceptable knowledge. When I was writing for college, we had to make sure that articles we would reference and use were of acceptable caliber. The Huffington Post would not be a contender to those terms, we had to use reliable resources including fact checking. So, it surprises me greatly that a few morning shows and other media outlets, have referenced articles such as mentioned. Just goes to further my point; seek knowledge, not what the media tells you.

"The heart of him who has understanding seek knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed only folly."
Proverbs 15:14 ESV

Building the Bridge of Change

Okay, now that we have a better understanding of the core of racism, how can we make the change? I believe the change won't happen over night. It is a huge undertaking and will require diligence for generations to come. Basically, what needs to change are the ancient concepts and uses of stereotypical labeling. If you read an article that uses any label of an individual or start to watch a program that is using inflammatory terms to trigger a response; stop. When we engage with these outlets we are not only fueling the fire, we are giving them permission to further exploit and expose us to their racist concepts and slanderous exploits; we are telling them it's OK!

Do you think that the recent accounts in Ferguson Missouri are accurate? 
When a news broadcast exploits "White Cop Shoots Black Unarmed Male" shouldn't it have read "Cop Shoots Unarmed Male?" Why does it label the race? Because they want the reaction. This triggered the extremists to emerge, such as  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to give "credit" to the titles.

First, let me clear something up: Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are two extremists. If they truly were fighting against racism, then they would be fighting for humanity and not base their allegations on the color of the victims skin versus the color of the oppositions skin. I group both of these individuals with similar cult followings as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) and ISIS, who kill based off of their beliefs; what god are they worshiping? To further my point, Jesse Jackson is also titled Reverend Jesse Jackson, do his words match what the Bible tells us? Not that either of them would kill another person because of their differences, but their use and depiction ignites the actions of others.

"The second is this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:31 ESV

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 ESV

Where has God told us to kill someone because they are different from us? Nowhere.
Unfortunately, these groups use their celebrity to further promote the racist views within our society. They use this to "stir the pot" igniting people to react. Further fueling the media machines to pump their gasoline into the fire of news and entering the portal of accessibility.Which is also saddening considering how much has been sacrificed for our freedoms we have today. 

I think that as an American, we are sensitive to the racism plight, because of our history with the condolence with the enslavement of individuals, it pinned person against person and does so to this very day. This is a part of our history, but should it define us as a nation?  If we hold onto this it only hurts us and prevents us from becoming unified. This is a war that has already been fought and won; isn't it?
Why the divide today?

Make the Choice

Make a conscious choice to be the ambassador for positive change.
If someone you know makes a racist comment, challenge them with knowledge, not fists of anger or ignorance. Engage them in a conversation about their beliefs respecting them as an individual. If you disagree make sure you validate that while you both have different opinions, you can agree to disagree.  Even what we know to be true, can be challenged; one thing is for sure, we as humans are fallible.  What is good for us one day, the next could be reported differently. To coincide, what might work well for me, might not work well for you. Usually, it has been my experience, when someone makes a derogatory comment, it stems from hearsay or minimal understanding. Just remember that everyone experiences life in a different way. What you think and take into consideration, might have a different perspective to someone else.
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV

This is a simple exercise: put yourself into the life and aspects of the other individual.
Just as an example; take into consideration how you might feel if you were stopped daily while driving to and from work, asked where you were going and how you obtained your vehicle. How would that make you feel if you thought you were being stopped based on the color of your skin? What would you do?
I ask this because when it is stated that Ferguson Missouri police force is predominately "white" - I ask myself why? Then, I would like to think, that if I were within this neighborhood and experiencing such injustice, that people would be writing to their Senators asking for an investigation into their local police department, as well maybe even some form of recruitment within the community to join the police force. Wouldn't this be a positive change for a more civilized solution?

People Are Fallible

We don't know the facts and we probably won't for a while.
Do I think the individual, Michael Brown, should have remained in the middle of the street for four hours? No. As a mother that recently lost her child, I can't imagine the agony the family must be experiencing and my heart and condolences go out to them. Losing a child is the most difficult thing anyone has to suffer through. I do believe since this community has felt oppressed, that this tragedy has prompted the plea for change. I commend the family and the community that through their suffering they are promoting positive actions. They are not condoning the looting and other negative actions that have occurred. Imagine how much more powerful the messages the community had to say would have been if the vandalism hadn't happened. Because now, it gives skepticism to those watching and taking all of this in, further fueling ignorance and taking away from another issue: militarized police.

Much like "Hands Up Don't Shoot" once race has been stated or suggested within conflicts, people put their hands up not wanting to touch the subject. Why make this about race, which we have already proven diverts the public's opinions, than to address a more sinister realism; why is such force being used?
I understand these men and women risk their lives daily, I even have family members on the police force, but I've never heard of them having to use such extreme force. Maybe it's me living in my bubble, but I would like to believe that servants of the law undergo training in such cases and are subject to thorough testing to qualify them fit to be in the field. But, as we know, most governing positions are easily corrupted. I'm not saying this is the case for this particular instance. Just that people make mistakes and unfortunately, it is my belief that in this instance, there were too many mistakes and ended with the loss of life.

I commend the individuals who are being interviewed, blasting the use of terms and stating that this is a humanity case and trying to put an end to the inflammatory verbiage. It gave me hope seeing educated persons speaking out against this and further stating that this isn't a white on black, or black on white issue. There are so many other things going on, but if we limit it to this, then we're unable to fix an already broken system.

Promoting Acceptable Behaviors

When there are colleges and institutions that only admit students and individuals based off of their skin color; it's racism that they are judging base off of the color of a persons skin. Why is it acceptable for such promotion of a particular race? Didn't we fight for equality and against segregation?

When you have celebrities and people using unacceptable terms (like the N word); it's racist. I was taught that the N word was a bad word because it is derogatory; I was also taught that retarded is a bad word and wasn't used in the house growing up, because it too could be used in a negative way. Much like when women use bitch in referencing their own friends - while it is my opinion - I believe this is unacceptable behavior. When we use these words we are not respecting each other as individuals and people.

How about a new challenge, since the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was such a success; how about  a challenge demonstrating tolerance and acceptance of our differences.

When did America lose our civility?
America is often referred to "The Melting Pot" because it is the land where many different nationalities have come and converged. Some have welcomed change, while others are fearful and think that anything different to what they know is wrong. You would think with this day and age and our advances that cultivating and maintaining positive behaviors wouldn't be so hard to fathom.

In closing I'd like to share a quote from the American humanitarian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." 



Links

Other Articles Referencing America's Racism