People Matter More

Racism. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. In this week’s reading of The Classic Slave Narratives by Fredrick Douglass, we witness his achievements as well as his many tussles with the social construct of his time. As a class we critically analyzed his passion and his utterly great ambition to break the chains of the social norm which was slavery. He fought tooth and nail for himself and for those who were in or once in his situation as being a former slave. He fought for men and women so that they will no longer be looked as if they were less than livestock, so that they will no longer witness their family and friends hanging from the limbs of trees, and ultimately for the life and pursuit of happiness we all and equally deserve. That ambition and drive from Douglass motivated and touched me significantly.

Fredrick Douglass then states, “America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” Which leads me to ask this question. Do you believe racism still exists? Have you personally experienced a time where you felt that simply based off the color of your skin, you were either inferior or superior to another race? Now, do not feel compelled to share if you choose not to, however I ask the question if you believe racism still exists because I have encountered many people who believe that racism does not exist in our time and age. I found their points to be quite ridiculous at first, but then I thought, perhaps they have not personally been in a situation where they were seen as inferior to another. Which is hard for me to understand, however, I can attempt to see their point.

My parents are from a Third World Country. They both traveled to the US at a very young age, eager for these promised opportunities with hopes of attaining them. My mother is currently a barber and my father is a tile setter. They are two of the hardest workers I know and will do all that they can to provide for us. However, it hurts me when I see my parents being judged based off the color of their skin when all they desire is opportunities and happiness just like you and I.  I will never forget the day when my mother returned home from work in tears because a customer judged her and told her insulting names just because she is a Hispanic women. I was livid that somebody would have the audacity to do that to her. My parents are much darker than I am, and others often assume that I am Caucasian. So I witness the injustice occurring to my parents while I am sometimes given a “pass” because of my light complexion. There was a time when I was driving my Jeep on the 60 a couple of years ago. I was young and like most typical high-schoolers, obeying the speed limit was never considered. I was driving so fast that if I was to be pulled over, I would’ve received a ticket for speeding at a criminal speed. A police SUV speed up right next to me, caught a glimpse of me and drove off as if it was no big deal. I just felt the need to ask if I was any darker, would I have gotten the same pass as well.

I wonder, if Fredrick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, and all of those inspiring people who have passed away saw our times now, what would they have to say? They all had a dream, and a future of America being united as one and equally represented. I just want to end with this Ted Talk by Francys Johnson called Race is a fiction, Racism is not. It is 18 minutes long so be warned, but I personally think it’s worth listening to. It just amazes me how much of our lives is determined by the amount of pigmentation in our skin.

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4 Responses to People Matter More

  1. dakotalarson says:

    Very good post! I found it interesting that you’ve talked to people who do not believe racism exists today. I think the term racism is just different now and actually encompasses more than racial segregation showed in past history, such as with “white only” places.

    I believe the definition of racism you stated in your post that “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” still applies today with all of the stereotypes that exist. I am Korean and was adopted from South Korea when I was six months old. With having Caucasian parents, my school friends often did not understand why I looked different. However, more than this, to this day, I am always initially stereotyped as the “smart Asian.” As people start to get to know me, they do recognize my personal attributes such as my work ethic, but at a first glance, I get stereotyped into being book-smart.

    I believe the media very much influences society’s judgment on race, which in turn, affects our own individual views. I feel that no matter what race, people are portrayed at one side of the spectrum or the other, with often no middle ground. Asians are either nerdy or unintelligent/comical; African Americans are either motivational/powerful or criminals; Hispanics are either sexy/presumptuous or poor.

    I do not think racism is quite as black and white in modern society as each individual’s views differ based on family and societal cues as to what is acceptable versus during the times of the Jim Crow laws which seemed to be more of a public consensus. I think that racism will continue to be an ongoing problem and that the more people think it does not exist, the bigger the problem becomes.

  2. gchanneyla says:

    What a powerful post and I believe that the issue of racism definitely needs to be discussed. Racism exists whether you have experienced it or not you can not turn a blind eye on an issue which this country was founded on. Francys Johnson made the statement in his Ted talk, “race has a strong tie to identity” which I believe plays a major role in how we function and interact as a society. Identity gives some the ability to know that they have hope that they have support and statistically that they have a chance because they belong to a group or a class, but this is the very same mentality that allows division within people to grow. Shown through America’s past there have been preset privileges and power in people depending on the color of their skin. Unfortunately, because our country was founded on the idea of one group being above others based on skin color we are now left to deal with the cracks in the foundation. Racism is very much alive and I think that we must continue to fight it and implement acceptance in our youth.

  3. Thank you for posting this and for telling the story of your parents. Those stories need to be heard and told to others. Those experiences that you had developed an understanding of how some people act. I too have experienced inappropriate behavior. I have been pulled over and the officer asked if I spoke Spanish before asking me any other question. I was appalled that I was pulled over in a predominately minority neighborhood in an old car. They eventually told me that I was pulled over because I had writing on my windows. I did in fact have writing on my windows, but it said congrats for graduating high school. I was forced to clean the paint off and followed by the officers to the gas station to make sure I did so. I have felt the eyes staring at me and the clerks follow me as if I have done wrong, but it is those experiences I have become more knowledgeable about the stereotypes that people have in their day to day lives. While I enjoyed you post, I believe the way to attempt to eliminate racism is through education. We must educate the young to not hate or discriminate. We should teach them to tolerate and understand people. We must educate each other just as Douglas suggested. Through this maybe, hate for those that look different can be eliminated. It does not matter how you look everybody is vulnerable to discrimination unless we as a people say no to prejudices.

  4. naherresp says:

    Racism does exist and it’s not going to disappear any time soon. I agree with “voiceofmorality” that in order to diminish racism we must educate. Educating our youth to be tolerable amongst each other and demonstrate the virtues we possess as individuals. I too have experience racism towards myself, family and friends. I too get the usual remark of, “do you speak English” or “I’m sorry I’m waiting for a translator”, when I haven’t even had the opportunity to speak. Depending on my mood I laugh it off but other times it becomes extremely difficult to pass. Segregation no longer may exist but racism will continue on. Individuals who govern our states and national government play a huge role whether they choose to tolerate racism or keep blind to it. Just in AZ alone we have one of the most racist individuals of all time Sherriff Joe Arpaio. “Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has admitted he violated several federal court orders resulting from a long-running racial profiling suit, a confession that comes a month before he was slated to respond to allegations of contempt.” Having individuals like Joe allowed to continue with such discriminating activities only demonstrates that we are not ready to move forward and give end to racism.

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