Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Prejudice and Racism

Ever wonder if you are prejudice? Chances are ... you are. Sure we all like to think we are open-minded, but there are things that shape our lives that make us distrust others based on skin color. Agree or disagree I could care less. Most people - ESPECIALLY WHITE PEOPLE (read white guilt) - are afraid to admit their prejudice because in today's world they will be banished into obscurity (read Rush Limbaugh on ESPN, Jimmy the Greek on ABC Sports, et al).

In high school, I was the minority. I graduated from a school that was 60% black and 40% other (which included Mexican, Hispanic, Asian, and White). You would think this experience would actually make a person more open-minded, but on the contrary, it makes you more jaded. You can tell all these people with white guilt have had little or no interaction with other races. If they did, they would already have their own prejudices and would SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Also in HS, my "crew"consisted of me and another white guy, two Mexicans, and a black guy. That's not to say I didn't hang around with people from all walks of life (my lunch "crew" was the goddamn rainbow coalition with a black woman, an Asian woman, a black man, a white woman, two white guys (me included), and a Mexican girl). Anyway, through this mix, I learned a LOT about prejudice from other races - which surprisingly to some - isn't very different from race to race.

One thing I found is that most people assume that white guys are racist. This is a bad assumption but one I enjoyed because you got to see how other people think of other races. I am not one to "go off" on someone for a racist comment. If I feel it's directed at a "group" I let it slide; however, if it's directed at someone I know (especially a friend) I will definitely call someone out. Luckily, I never saw anyone - at least in my presence - being outwardly racist toward anyone but me.

I dated a Mexican girl for some time. The first time I was invited to her house (aside from years ago when her sister was one of my girlfriend's good friends) was on 4th of July weekend. It was about 105 degrees outside and humid. In walks her sister (who I knew from high school) and her husband; the first words out of his mouth ... "Man, I'm sweatin' like a nigger trying to read." Eye opener for anyone not me - minorities have prejudices and it's not just white people.

James was part of my High School crew. About 6'5 and skinny, James found a talent for hoops late in life and came from a staunch Catholic upbringing. He related a story to me one time about how he was out with some "thug" friends. The ringleader of the group told James "The first white guy we see we are gonna jump." Luckily, they did not run into anyone that night. James' first thought ... "Man, I hope I don't see anyone I know." This is not a blanket statement by any means, but despite what commercials and modern times would have you believe - there are just as many black racists as there are white racists. Black racists are more violent because they do not need special groups to spread hate (see Aryan Nation, KKK, etc.).

Aside from my last job, I have only been around a handful of Indians (read people from India - dot not feather). One guy I met one night out with a host of others. I really knew very little about the Indian culture (and still know only slightly more) but I realized they have a disdain for Pakistanis. Shortly after 9-11, the gentleman told me the following ... "Pakistanis are either terrorists or they smell like shit; if you meet a showered Pakistani, shoot him before he shoots you!" Obviously it was said in jest (remember, I am the white, racist, ugly-American) but it showed that prejudices are world-wide. I think that sometimes, Americans believe we corner the market on the subject.

I was involved in a cash Fantasy Football League for a number of years. We used to watch the games as a group (for the most part) at a local bar that had NFL Sunday Ticket so we could see all of the games at once. One Arab gentleman - business owner and all-around great guy and family man - was a HUGE Chicago Bear fan. He loved the games as much as I so we became friends quickly. One problem he had though was he was just as big a fan when he watched his FFL guys on Sundays. I remember one Sunday when Shaun Alexander ran for 5 TD's in the first half; after each TD, he would yell "Oh Yeah!!! I own that nigger!" Arabs are not all terrorists. Arabs are not all haters of the United States, and - just like any race or country of origin - they have their own prejudices.

So the question really is, can we be prejudiced against a group and still interact, like and even befriend a member of that group? What the media - and bleeding heart jackasses - do not account for is the fact that yes you can. You can paint broad strokes as long as you are open minded when it comes to individuals. If you think all blacks are untrustworthy and therefore refuse to even acknowledge one in a happenstance meeting or even on a regular basis - you are a racist. If you feel all whites are untrustworthy yet are open minded enough to get to know just one, then you have prejudice but you are not racist. Now, in getting to know that one you decide that you're assumption is correct and cut off all communication with the white race ... you are racist just not a close-minded racist.

OK, let' step back a minute just because maybe some of you are not used to this way of thinking. I believe prejudice is not only common but it is necessary. Let's take for instance the FACT that white people cannot walk through some neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The same with Mexicans in other neighborhoods. The same with blacks in still other neighborhoods. Is it a prejudice to avoid those areas if you are the "unwelcome race"? Yes, but it's also prudent. Someone without prejudice would think nothing of walking into such an area and - more than likely - end up hurt or worse.

OK, to step back even further. Let's look at something most us can relate to since race may hit home too closely. Politics. In my opinion, I find Conservative Republicans completely devoid of thought, who base their decisions and politics on whatever interpretation of the bible they hold, and want to crusade the U.S. policies across the globe. In my opinion, the only difference between them and the Taliban or even Al-Qaida is that they do not adhere to the idiotic letter of the bible with stonings, eye-for-an-eye, and other practices of 2,000 years ago. With that said, Tennessee Jed considers himself a conservative Republican (at least by most of his views) and yet I do not feel that any of the negatives I associate with that political party to be endemic to him ... though I still think he should have his voter card burned, pissed on, and then he should have to relocate to Florida.

The point is, I have a prejudice (not just one mind you). Prejudice can shape our world viewpoint, our lives ... and our relationships but ONLY if we allow it. In life prejudice is practical, asinine, learned, experienced, and even embraced by the ignorant. It is on us to overcome our prejudices in our daily lives, make individual judgments, and only make those judgments on merit and not any outlying factor.


Blogger Oreo said...

You've been suprsingly deep lately. Not that I think you're shallow or anything, maybe I should say deeper than usual. You wanna talk about it?

11:01 AM  
Blogger Who's Your Daddy said...

Nope, just like to keep people guessing :-) Also, if you need a little lighter reading, I ahve been posting to:





3:50 PM  

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