Those Times I Learned About Racism…
I know the big thing in the racism of today is what we are calling “White Privilege” and I’m not sure if that’s a correct or not. I think it’s more “White Ignorance” then anything else. My opinions have changed so dramatically since I was a kid in high school back in the 80’s with regards to things like racism, religion and homophobia. Back then I was blind to the racism around me. I loved the Cosby show, I couldn’t be racist. I had black friends, I couldn’t be racist. I had no problems with interracial dating. The only racism I ever saw came from the government in my eyes and later TV.
I was against any laws that required a business owner to hire someone based on the color of their skin. How was that not racist? I would hear minorities talk about the lack ethnicity in TV and film and I would think, it’s bullshit. The number 1 show was the Cosby Show. The movies I liked had black people in them. They weren’t always the main character but they were at least there. There was more discrimination against white people than there were minorities. Racism was a thing back in the 60’s. This was the 80’s none of my friends were racist.
in my eyes, my train of thought became confirmed in the early ’90’s when I was trying to get hired on as a cop. Time and time again I couldn’t get hired because I was white. I saw minority men and women get hired that didn’t score as well as I had done on the various tests. In one case, I saw a Latina fail the physical agility test for LAPD and get asked back for the oral interview. I scored higher on the orals than she had and yet, that was the last I heard from the LAPD and she continued on. Later I was a reserve deputy sheriff and I got to play golf with one of the sergeants from my station and a captain that worked at one of the jails. The captain had been the sergeant in charge of or the lieutenant in charge of hiring before he’d become a captain. He had asked why I hadn’t been hired yet. Told him I didn’t know. He said that he would look into it. It turned out that I should have been hired. However, I and dozens of others had been passed over because they had to hire more minorities.
I was young and ignorant and I just couldn’t understand how person of color could say with a straight face that they were being discriminated against. I thought that not based on research but my very limited experiences. And, that is the problem. That is what white people don’t get about racism. As human beings there are two ways we can survive. One is through learning from our experiences and the other is through is education.
The problem is that both ways of learning are full of problems. In my case, my life experiences were showing me one thing and one thing only and I was ignorantly allowing that one thing to influence my entire thoughts on racism in America. I never directly saw a minority not get hired because of the color of their skin. Therefore, racism could not exist to the lengths the media was telling me that it did. This is exactly how a lot of people think on the subject of racism. White or black, we refuse to believe in the facts if they don’t agree with what we have seen. This can lead to racism because when we see enough of the same thing over and over again, we are going to believe it as being true. And, when we stop looking at the facts it’s we become blind to the truth.
I was later smacked in the face with this reality just a few years later. I was working for a security company that hired off duty cops to protect FEMA locations. I worked 7 days a week in South Central L.A. just a couple of building shy of Crenshaw and Jefferson. This was real close to where ground zero of the L.A. riots had gone down a few years before. There was this really amazing soul food place just down the street I would often go to for lunch. I would go in there and feel so uncomfortable because I was always the only white guy in the place. At any given moment, I could look up in any direction and see people staring at me. Some looked angry, some just looked confused at what in the hell I was doing in there. But, I will never forget that feeling. I learned then what it must be like for blacks when they walk into some business. My black friends had told me about this and I ignorantly thought they were just being paranoid. Turns out they weren’t paranoid, I was just in denial and very ignorant about the whole thing.
The most disturbing example of this kind of thing happened to me a few years after the South Central incident. I was now working as a car salesmen. I was doing pretty well at the time. One of the other salesmen was a black guy and I liked him. He was little uptight but a strong salesmen and a good person. One day, he called me on the phone and asked if I could meet him at a store he was shopping in. I didn’t live too far away so I told him I’d be there in a minute. He said that security was following him around. Again, I thought he was being paranoid.
I arrive at the store. Right away I spot the undercover guy looking down one of the isles, trying to be discreet. I walk past him and sure enough he’s looking at T.J, my friend. I was in a shirt and tie and T.J was in a full suit having just got off work. I call out to him as I turn on to the isle and he smiles at me and I smile back. He had been right that he was being watched. But, I was still in denial about it until, I turned and saw the security give me a nod that said in every way, “Oh, okay he must be one of the good ones.” and then he walked away. This was unbelievable to me. We didn’t see the security guy again. I was embarrassed. Here was T.J. a better person than I was. Yet, he was being watched and the moment I show up it appears that I have more or less “vouch” for him and security leaves him alone.
That moment has stuck with me for over 20 years. I had learned that I was looking at this racism issue all wrong. It’s out there and it hides in many ways and all of it is evil. I think racism will eventually fade away. But, we have got to learn to recognize it. This goes for all of us regardless of race. Not everything is a race issue and I think our society overreacts to a lot of things that weren’t meant as being racist but sounded like there were. We have got to educate people on how to recognize the difference. Because, I never considered myself to be racist and yet in many ways I was. It had nothing to do with any kind of white privilege. I was just ignorant to it. I didn’t see it in my daily life and so when it was there, I rationalized it away. It wasn’t until I started to see it from a place outside of my own experiences that I began to understand how very real the issue is.
I was reminded of that moment when I read the ignorant but racist sounding rants of an actress last night after Viola Davis when her Emmy. General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn went on an ignorant rant on Twitter. She wasn’t showing what some are calling “White Privilege”, she showed white ignorance. I don’t think she’s racist, I think she’s ignorant. I have no doubt she has had similar experiences in her life to those that I had growing up and because of it has become blind to it. And, when confronted with real racism I am guessing these things are simply rationalized away by her. I did the same thing and I am embarrassed at how blind I was to the real problems of racism in this country.
Many people, like I used to be, see racism as something that is overt. Slavery, the race riots and so on. We don’t understand what it’s like to be that minority that gets pulled over for no other reason than the color of their skin. Not even the cop sees that their stop was based on the color of that person’s skin in many cases. The thing all of us need to understand is that racism is real, and it mostly hides now. Sometimes it hides under the guise of Southern Pride, sometime it can hide under the guise of immigration reform but most of the time, it hides under our very own ignorance.
Why I Don’t Want Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill!
Okay, calm down. I know all my liberal brothers and sisters heads are on the verge of exploding but please hear me out before you condemn me as some right wing teabagger. Because trust me, I’m not.
There are several reason and some of them you’re not going to like because a lot of people simply will not want to hear the truth about what I am saying. Not all reasons why are based on truth and fact, some of my reasoning I admit freely that are just simply my opinion but I would like to think that I have come to them from a place of truth and after a serious amount of respectful thought.
Here’s my big issue with this sudden much talked about issue. Why? That’s right why? Ask yourself honestly. The people I have seen in favor of wanting Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill all want to do it, first, because she is a woman. Second, because she is black. Third is because they think she is worthy or rather qualified. If the fist reason you want Harriet Tubman On the $20 Bill is because she’s black or because you think we need to have black people on our money then you’re being racist, sexist and discriminatory, stop that. The fact that Harriet Tubman is black or that we don’t have a black person on any paper money is no reason to put a black person on some bills.
The whole idea is racist, sexist and discriminatory. We need to stop with this ignorant ideal that something is not racist, sexist and discriminatory just because they think it’s a good thing. I have no problem with having a black person on any of our currency. I think it’s a great idea. And, when it comes time to create another bill I would love to see a qualified person chosen. And, if that person is black, Asian, Latino or white I will be fine with it as long as they are deserving of the honor. But, to just up and decide, we need a woman or a black person on our money is so outrageously racist, sexist and discriminatory that it offends the senses. It is disappointing that people can’t get their heads far enough out of their asses to see this or at least admit it.
We have got to stop making excuses for this kind of subtle racism, sexism and discrimination. It doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help the specific race it’s intended to nor does it help women. It doesn’t help change the mind of evil minded and hurtful racists so we have to ask ourselves, what is the point? It’s like arriving on the scene of an horrible accident and someone has lost an arm and you try to stick a band-aid in the hopes that it will help stop the bleeding. It won’t, the action is futile.
The way to end racism isn’t by forcing anyone to do anything. We have laws all over the this country that try to mask racism and all they really end up doing is making truly racist people more racist. It’s that old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. What you can do is offer the water and let the horse drink it when it’s ready. There two outcomes to this scenario. One, the horse eventually gets thirsty enough and drinks the water. Two, the horse dies. Either way, the problem is solved.
The way you end racism is through example and knowledge. Right now, there is no valid reason to put Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill. Just because we want something doesn’t make it a good idea or does it mean that it’s good for us. All doing this is gong to do is piss off a bunch of ignorant, stupid, racist people. And, though, the thought of a bunch of racist idiots being somewhat forced to carry around a picture of a back person in their pockets, wallets and purses amuses me. I guarantee you that what is going to happen is that these racist fucknuts are going to stop carrying any of the new bills. There will be shortages of 10 dollar bills in the southern states. I know it sounds outrageous but one of our biggest problems in this country is underestimating the abilities of stupid people to stupid things on a mass scale.
I just simply cannot support the idea of adding Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill just because she was black or a woman. And, whether you want to believe it or not she is only being considered for this honor because she was in fact a black person and a woman. No matter how you look at it’s sexist, racist and discriminatory. All you need to do is look at how this current movement started. A women’s group made a poll. People voted in it. The final vote came down to these choices, Tubman, Wilma Mankiller, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks. Tubman squeaked by and won with 118,328 narrowly beating out Eleanor Roosevelt who had 111,227 votes. When the vote is rigged, the outcome is inevitable. Make no mistake, if you want a woman on the 20 bill and you offer up a vote and the only options are women, you’re going to end up with a woman 100 percent of the time.
As I said, I don’t have a problem with having a black person or a woman on the 20 dollar bill or any other bill. I think it would be cool to have our money eventually consists of people from many different races, sexes and sexual orientations. What I have a problem with is doing it just because we don’t have these people represented on our money.
However, all this being said, if our Secretary of the Treasury decides to put Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill I am certainly not going to complain about it and I will have no problems spending the currency. What I will sadly feel is that it wasn’t earned in this circumstance, because it wasn’t. I am not saying Tubman isn’t worthy of being on our money, she most certainly is and I would argue with anyone who thinks other wise.
Let me try to explain what I mean in other terms. There was a time when I wasn’t that popular in school. One of the more popular kids was having a big party for his 7th birthday. I was one of the last kids to get invited. When I did get an invite I was so surprised. I was thrilled! I was also kind of proud of myself because for a moment I had the mistaken thought that I was being invited to the party because this kid, let’s call him “Jason”, liked me.
Of course that euphoria lasted for just a short time. I had been so thrilled that I told my parents when I got home. They congratulated me and took me out to get a present for Jason later that evening. I knew this event was going to change everything! I would soon be one of the popular kids and I couldn’t wait. I picked out a Stretch Amrstrong for Jason. He was going to love it and my destiny would be forever changed!
After arriving at the party a few days later I was confronted by another friend of Jason’s. He let me know that I wasn’t invited to Jason’s party because he liked me and wanted to friends with me. He only did it because his mother told him he had to invite everyone in his class so that no one would feel left out. He didn’t want me there. No one did. I was humiliated. I was on the verge of tears and wanted to go home. I was taunted in school for a while over it because I the kid who actually showed up thinking I was wanted.
Putting Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill for the reasons she is being considered for now is like me being invited to that party. Sure it was nice to be asked but if I had understood that I was being asked not because I was wanted but rather because I was in the same class, I wouldn’t have gone. I wouldn’t have wasted my parents money on such an cool gift. And, most of all, I would have had a greater sense of self-worth.
What make this story similar is that as I later found out, “Jason” did want me at the party. As it turned out he had thought I was pretty cool. Though I had in fact just been asked because his mother said that he had to ask everyone in his class. I was one of those people that he actually wanted to ask to his party. I didn’t find this until a few weeks had passed and it was great to hear but it didn’t change the way I had felt. It had really hurt feeling that the only reason I was asked there was because Jason had to ask me. It really effect my sense of self-worth. It hurt even after I knew he did want to be friends. I knew that other people though the only reason I had been invited was because of his mother.
My point here being that Harriet Tubman is absolutely worthy of being on the 20 dollar bill, there is no question of this. It’s the reasoning for putting her that bothers me and I think should bother more of us. We shouldn’t be doing anything because a person’s race, religion or sexuality. We should be making these types of decisions based solely upon their qualifications and nothing else. Any other reasoning is a belittlement to their accomplishments and all that such an honor should represent. I would rather say, “Look at Harriet Tubman’s Face On the $20 Bill! How cool is that?!” because I know she is on the bill because she earned it, not just because she was a woman first, black second and her accomplishments a distant third.