On November 14, our class had a discussion about race and the law. The conversation was in response to an assigned reading from author Patricia J. Williams’s book “The Alchemy of Race and Rights”.
In this particular class, I have the benefit of being surrounded with some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Each class, I look forward to hearing their thoughts and while we sometimes do not come to the same conclusions after select readings, I have noticed that we still remain respectful of one another’s views. I learn much more from them than they probably learn from me, but I value what they think because each standpoint tends to be unique and deeply insightful.
During the discussion about Williams’s book and just as we do after each assigned reading, our class had to extract precisely what argument the author posed and how it was relative to the law. As always, we each offered our points of perception, but what was even more interesting was how we all viewed the overall subject.
Nevertheless, I noticed something pretty amazing and richly simplistic during our conversation. We appeared to all be in agreement about what the author proposed regarding her ideas of the relationship between rights and hope and how both maintain different representations to Black people especially in overall relation to persons of color, respectively. Even more interesting is the composition of our group which is comprised of rich Hispanic, White, and African-American backgrounds.
Because I grew up in the Midwest and with a relatively uncommon background at the time, I believe I was exposed to racism in a different manner than my fellow classmates. This is not to say that they their experiences involving racism has been any less harsh or that I was worse off, but from a geographic and time perspective and because I am a returning student, I believe my experiences expand a little more than my younger classmates. However, having lived in Arizona since 1996, I believe Midwestern racism to be a little different. In the Midwest, you pretty much learn from birth how to delineate amongst friends and enemies; in Arizona, racism is somewhat different. It is more deceptive and sneaky than anything I have experienced and ultimately, those two traits make it a little more difficult to maneuver through although, not impossible.
What I loved even more happened after class when one of my classmates, a self-described Chicana, said something which totally grabbed me. She stated “I hate seeing anybody or any group excluded—I hate exclusion.” I was totally amazed. Not that she said it because she appears to be extremely thoughtful and super-intelligent, but because I remember a time when rather than admit such a belief, most people would say nothing at all. While at some time or another we all experience exclusion, it is fantastic to know that there are those who live among us that actually do not want it to happen because someone is or looks different.
While we live in different times, it would be utterly stupid and ignorant to deny that racism no longer exists. But, I refuse to believe that we as a society cannot lessen its sharp blow to the downtrodden that have experienced excessive vitriol or unfair treatment because of ethnic differences. We as human beings have to be much better and I will hold to this belief because of people like my classmates and because of the overplayed, overused, and aged ideal known simply as HOPE.