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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Let's Talk about Race


There has been a lot of talk about race in the news and all over the place lately. With the Trayvon Martin shooting and his killer's trial and of course with the not guilty verdict, it seems everyone has an opinion about it. I've heard on some stations that this whole case has nothing to do with race whereas others say it has everything to do with race. Either way, let us remember that a 17-year-old walking home from a quick trip to a convenience store. His home was in a gated community that had several break-ins and other issues recently, so they started a neighborhood watch led by George Zimmerman, the shooter. Zimmerman had a gun because of a lose pit bull in the neighborhood. Zimmerman called the police to report a suspicious looking male in the neighborhood. The police dispatcher told him he did not have to chase him, but he did. After getting off the phone, Martin had been shot by Zimmerman 70 yards from the townhouse he was staying at. Now this happened in Florida and the state of Florida has a Stand Your Ground Law. This law is what got Zimmerman acquitted. (Source)

Listening to all the different points of view and trying to make sense of it is hard and confusing. Even President Obama has given his opinion on it all. The truth of it is we as a society/country and world need to find a way to co-exist. We need to realize we are all creatures of Earth and have all been created by God (at least in my beliefs). We need to remember that each of us no matter what we have done are loved by God. We need to get rid of our institutionalized racism (as well as the other -isms) and learn to accept our differences. We need people to have a sense of responsibility for themselves again and not to blame the other guy (whether a person or a business). But most of all we need to teach our children by example to love one another and to end the violence in our world. 

I am going to share a true story with you. This story breaks my heart and I think it is a perfect example of how much our media has influenced our youth. I was Christmas shopping with a good friend one year at a mall. My friend was making a purchase in Macy's Children's Department. While waiting for her (she was in line) I was just looking at the nearby displays. One display was of Holiday Barbie dolls. A young black girl came over and saw the display. The first doll she saw was the Black Barbie doll. Her response was, "Oooh, pretty."
Then she came around the display to the white Barbie dolls. Her response was, "Ooooh, prettier."
Now it broke my heart. As a teacher and an adviser to a multicultural club at the high school I was teaching, I felt like I needed to do something, but I also assumed the adults who were with the child (but not in hearing distance) would question me, a stranger, talking to their young child (she was probably six or seven). At this point my friend was finished and the girl's mother called her over, so I had done nothing, but the incident has always remained with me.

I have gone through many years of diversity training and have also chaperoned many student trips to diversity trainings. I have even spent a week as an adviser for a session of the National Conference For Community and Justice's (NCCJ) Anytown .  I have to say I had my most interesting night there before the kids arrived spending most of a night talking to my two roommates about how we knew whether we were heterosexual or homosexual. They were both lesbians. I know about affinity groups and have heard many stories from them after being broken into them. I know how much prejudice there still is in our country. I also know it is wrong. I understand people are upset about how messed up our welfare system is and I agree it is. I also think our entire society needs a responsibility check. When someone can sue a company for giving them a hot coffee that burns them when they spill and win the case, we have problems and this to me is where the welfare issues stem from. We all seem to feel entitled to something even if it is not ours, and we have not worked for it and it does not seem to matter the color of your skin.

The United States use to be a country where people came and worked hard and had a good life getting ahead. Now if we are born here we feel entitled to that good life and if people come here legally or not, they feel entitled. We seem to be missing the working hard. Some may say there are no jobs, we have a bad economy, but these entitlements go back much too far for those to be our reasons. 

But I have digressed onto another topic than the one I wanted to discuss. We all need to think before we act or say something. We need to be responsible for our own actions and not judged by those of someone like us. We need to step out of our comfort zones sometimes to meet others part way. We need to learn more about other cultures so we can find some similarities. And we need to remember there are bad and good in every culture, race, group and the bad does not define the whole. As a Christian I know the Bible tells me that Jesus taught us to love everyone as we love ourselves for this is how God loves us. I know I strive to do this. I am human so I know it is probably not completely possible for me, but I can still strive for it. Since I have been focusing on this, I know I feel much happier and more satisfied with my life. Will you join in me in striving to make the world a more loved place by trying to love others how God loves us? Remember God gave us freewill, but with freewill comes responsibility.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this piece! It is very powerful because it is so personal and strongly felt. That story you shared breaks my heart as well, and I know it must have been difficult not to say anything, although that was probably wise under the circumstances. Totally agree that although we are all human and make mistakes, we can all strive.

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