Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Racism is a Cancer that affects us all

Racism is a cancer that affects us all. Those of us who are “white” may believe, as I have seen posted, we don’t think about racism most of the time. Actually, I don’t think that’s true at all. We are all twisted every day by the racism that lives at the heart of American society. We negotiate the matter of race in every personal transaction, every day, whether we are aware of it or not. For some of us, it’s just a great deal more painful than for others.

When our forefathers made the decision to import slaves they felt obliged to square it with their Christian consciences. Unlike previous societies that kept slaves, slave-holders in the United States justified the practice by arguing that human beings from Africa are somehow less human than those from Europe. They actually argued that the state of slavery was somehow better for the slaves than freedom, and that the slaves were happier in slavery! (See a little article online at The resulting twisted logic and societal views have resonated down through our history. We continue to have problems with people making assumptions that people of African ancestry are “less” in some way than other people, despite many proofs to the contrary.

We cannot help, growing up in such a toxic society, either being twisted ourselves, or, ironically, counter-twisting to prove that we are NOT racist. Or, if we are persons of color, how difficult to gauge every encounter and either wonder whether that was a matter of racism or just rudeness or carelessness, or to really be amazing and just not wonder at all. I see every day ways in which either I or the people around me are contorted and damaged by racism on some way or another. We fool ourselves and others if we live in America and try to say, I am not racist. We all are. The trick is to try not to let it be a really damaging thing, and to try to get past it, I think.

So, here’s to Rosa Parks, a hero of America’s struggle against racism. Let us try to be as brave as Rosa, and as steadfast, in fighting, even little fights, every day.

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