Wednesday, November 13, 2019
To Make a Difference in the World :: Personal Narrative Essays
Racism - To Make a Difference Racism is a dark word; it is as black as the night, as black as the soul of those that harbor this hate. Yet, I want to talk about racism - not just in far away places, but here in the United States. Actually, I want everyone to talk about racism. Only by talking about it can we begin the process of overcoming past and present injustices. On my third day in South Africa, while walking down the street with my black female friend, several workers interrupted our conversation by calling out, "Hey, you're white and she's colored." In the United States, while walking down the street with white friends, I've had people stick their heads out of car windows to yell, "Stick with your own race." In South Africa, I spoke to white people who longed for the old days of apartheid when, for them, things were not so chaotic. In the United States, I spoke to a white man over the phone who, assuming I was white, tried to distinguish between the images that arise when black and white people talk about affirmative action by telling me to note the difference between "you and I discussing affirmative action and that black guy in California." In South Africa under apartheid, the lighter you were the better you were. Many in the U.S. and throughout the world still believe, to some extent, that lighter is better. I recently attended a black/brown conference on coalition building between the African-American and Latino communities and the question of discrimination within the Hispanic community arose. The questioners concern was how light dark discrimination would inhibit coalition building between the two communities. When I was a kid growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, I believed I would accomplish more in life if I were white. Most of the successful, stable families I knew were white. I believed whites had what they had because they were white. When achievement is seen as a purely a white domain, bad things happened to kids. As my barber told me over spring break, her teenaged niece stopped trying in school when the other kids accused her of "acting white." In South Africa, I often heard people ask, "why do I need to suffer for past injustices, I never committed?