The term is racism. A dictionary styled definition would be:
1) “The prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races”
2) “Discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.”
Racism is neither new nor is it unique to the United States of America. At any point in the history of this country, one can find instances of discrimination or abusive behaviors toward others of a different race or examples of prejudice feelings by some that they are superior to others of a different race.
Leave off the “ism” and the term race can infer a number of definitions. My initial thought whenever I hear the term dates back to childhood and our footraces. While some of those footraces could have been abusive as our paths often contained barbed wire fences to cross and gravel, shells, and assorted “stickers” or “sticker bushes” when all participants were barefooted, I can’t recall any discrimination. Of course race can also refer to the genetic makeup. Then the term can move into taxonomic groups and divisions of species often resulting from the geographic isolation within that species. Others may think of race as skin color determined by the amounts of pigment within a person’s skin.
What I think is unclear to some today is that racism is not limited to any particular group. Here in the US, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, 3rd Parties, Men, Women, Children, Christian, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Agnostic, Married, Single, Divorced, Widowed, Short, Tall, PhD whether Doctorate or Post Hole Digger, Urban, Suburban, Rural, Saints fan, Falcons fan, Braves fan, Nats fan, Crimson Tide, LSU Tiger, Knox Prairie Fire, Winner or Loser of the Egg Bowl, Investment Banker, Retail Store Cashier, Cook, Homemaker, Truck Driver, Teacher, Fire Fighter, Veteran, and any and everything not covered in my list may and can be racist. I just noticed that I even forgot to include any skin colors in the list.
Like other “isms” in racism the level or type of abusive or discriminatory behavior differs from the unnoticeable to that which you cannot stop from seeing regardless of how hard you try. Honestly, I think that no matter how much we try a speck of racism resides within all of us regardless of who we are. I talk a lot about trying to view things from different perspectives, but while I might desire or try to walk in another’s shoes I cannot. I know what it’s like to be the only person with white skin among others with darker skin. I know what it’s like to be the only male amongst a group of women. I can’t really fathom what it would be like to be tall. On several occasions, I sort of experienced that physical trait by playing basketball with goals which were 8 feet tall, but the pretend was not reality. There is, however, no way that I could experience 100 percent what it would be to live with dark skin or as a women. My practical personality is arguing that there is no difference, but that pesky side of practicality is harking that even if everything were the same merely altering one minute aspect changes everything. Just because I may or can think does not mean that I am. There is a difference and that difference is neither good nor bad. It’s just something that is not the same.
Speaking for myself, I’ve gone past weary to disgusted and am now plain ole sick and tired of listening and reading from media groups and personalities, proponents of political ideologies, and so on going to great lengths to “prove” they are not racist while they “explain” why the other person is the one promoting racism. Some segments of the GOP or maybe now anti-GOP “conservatives” seems to be on a crusade to “teach history” where every Democrat since the Civil War was racist. Racism during that period or any period of the history of the United States did not lie in a single region of the country or with a single political party. Likewise some Democrats, “liberals,” or whatever the current vogue term happens to be strive to label every Republican or “conservative” as a racist against another them or some other group.
To state as I would speak it, ANY attempts to apply blanket statements is akin to unleashing a hoard of moths to eat holes in that blanket. Now that ain’t no joke because any student of history, regardless of who you try to group together by either political party, region, gender, or skin color as being “the racist” element can turn your blanket into a shrimp trawl. With only a little reading, that shrimp trawl will look like some TEDs strung together with nothing else attached, and while I can picture that it doesn’t make any sense because there ain’t nothing there but nothing. I or any other history professor can disintegrate that blanket profile where it is not even dust particles within the air without any moths. Unless you prove that everybody everywhere is exactly the same, you can’t make a reasonable argument to that effect. Even if you think you can, why are you the one person who is different from everyone else?
Now let’s think about July and August of the year 2013. People such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have appeared at many venues and voiced their opinions to numerous media outlets concerning the death of Trayvon Martin and trial and jury verdict of not guilty of George Zimmerman. I’ve written about the trial and verdict on here. I’ve written about the Marissa Alexander case as well.
Now I do not have the ability to look inside of George Zimmerman and see what he actually saw or to think what he actually thinks. He did shoot someone that night, and that someone lost his life. What happened aside from that, only those present that night might have the answer. I stress might because things may have happened so fast that they became automatic reactions by both. With anyone’s version of events can one deny that George Zimmerman had several opportunities prior to the shooting to walk away and prevent the confrontation? Can one deny that Trayvon Martin had several opportunities as well to leave the area earlier which would have prevented the confrontation?
One fact that seems to have been lost, however, is that according to Florida law both Zimmerman and Martin could kill the other legally in the situation that took place.
George Zimmerman stood trial and a jury found him not guilty. If during the struggle, George Zimmerman had been killed by Trayvon Martin, I believe that Trayvon Martin should have been brought to trial just as George Zimmerman was. Given Florida law, a jury should have found him not guilty if the roles had been reversed. Pull race from the events, and the issue remains that both individuals “Stood Their Ground,” and both could make the same statements of feeling threatened. The tragedy is one young man lost his life. The tragedy is that another man knows that his actions contributed to taking that life. The crime is the ambiguities which are present within the law.
Stand Your Ground is not the same as Castle Doctrine, and there is a difference from using self defense when it is necessary versus a scenario where any confrontation could be avoided but is not because one party or both has the right to Stand Their Ground. Stand Your Ground, under the premise of defense, presents the opportunity for anyone regardless of race to be killed legally. I’m not arguing to give up the right of self defense. I’m arguing that one should not use or be encouraged to use their last resort first. Again I want to emphasize my opinion that Stand Your Ground is not the same as Castle Doctrine.
Also, the Zimmerman and Martin episode was not a reenactment of what happened with Emmitt Till. Cite any figures about Stand Your Ground cases involving race, and you can create practically any pattern with the statistics to fit whatever your agenda happens to be. Such Stand Your Ground laws while they might appear reasonable on paper, simply change the eternal concept of self defense. Again, Stand Your Ground is different from Castle Doctrine.
Regardless of personal feelings or ideology, please ask yourself if your opinion about Stand Your Ground would be different if the individual shooting in that case had been reversed? Under the law, both had the legal statute on their side no matter what happened. That doesn’t seem logical.
On the other hand, what was illogical or wrong about President Obama’s statements? Genetically, I think that if the President and Mrs. Obama had a son the appearance would be vaguely similar to Trayvon Martin. That could have been me 20+ or how many years ago is a statement I or anyone older than Trayvon Martin could have said. Anyone younger could say, that could be me in 5 or 10 or whatever number of years. Given the law which under the circumstances gave both individuals the legitimate cause to use deadly force regardless of race, gender, or whatever since both were legally present, it really could have been the President, me, or you as the individual shot and killed.
To me that is not divisive but an assertion that what happened in that situation could have happened to any one of us no matter our age or race. Even if we are unable or unwilling to admit it, the President’s remarks actually point out that the majority of us may look and believe differently but are actually more similar than we might think or care to think.
Honestly, I think we are in a tough situation. Most of us have probably learned that sometimes it is best to ignore something and it will go away. Sadly, ignoring the wrong thing could have drastic consequences such as say a small growth which appears harmless but in reality is cancer. Perhaps someone reading has a method of determination that is 100 percent accurate. I certainly do not.
I’ve never met Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but my personal opinion is that even if their words are sincere, those words are divisive. I’ve never met Rush Limbaugh, but my personal opinion of him is the same as that of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. There are many others who regardless of any sincerity profit from either creating or maintaining division. It would be nice if the profit came from repairing or preventing.
I cannot count the number of times in the past few weeks where I have not heard a media account accusing someone of playing the “race card.” Others may have, but I never received the memo that crimes today involved only black on white or white on black and that those are “hate crimes.” That seems to be all that are in the headlines. Then some filler article may have a word about black on black crime in urban areas. Any mention of white on white crime seems to include either substantial information about economic conditions of the area and those involved or portray some stereotypical redneck image of the surroundings.
I know and you know the technical definition of “hate crime.” You might feel differently but my concern typically involves the result of the crime. The reason, no matter how ignorant, stupid, hateful, or any such “justification” or “reasoning” for a violent crime usually only interests me if that information can somehow be used to prevent other crimes or violence.
Historically, I cannot pinpoint any perfect solutions. I do know that in some areas of the US, certain actions and activities which would be considered extraordinary or unacceptable to me and others in my environment are the norm and acceptable in others. While I have gone into some inner city areas, I have no idea on what it might be like to live or survive in that environment for months, years, or a lifetime no matter how long or short it may be. I have actually lived in some rural areas where for all practical purposes, no law enforcement existed. It really didn’t matter if everyone were the same race as me or if different races coexisted in the area. It was not an edifying environment.
Racism exists. It can be implied or explicit. It can come from me or anyone else as it has neither immunizations nor immunities regardless of age, race, gender, or any other factor. Many older Americans personally experienced some true injustices in this country solely because of their skin color. There is no way to change what has already happened. As I wrote before the number of individuals with whom I have spoken about their personal experiences during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, it seems to me that their focus is to recognize the struggle but the memory is for appreciation of those who sacrificed and to gain the knowledge to avoid repetition. What many consider discrimination or mistreatment today would have been a positive change for previous generations.
I don’t have any answers. I’m just sick and tired of so much focus on the race or races of individuals involved in violent crimes. Perhaps it would not bother me if that information led to a reduction in the amount of violence. It just doesn’t seem to matter with many today. Murder someone because you are bored. Teens violently assault someone old enough to have served in the Second World War. A person receives a special tour unavailable to others but given to them for the celebrity status of putting themselves willingly into a situation which cost another individual’s life. People profiting by caring nothing about the actual victims but focusing exclusively on race and promoting hatred and at times even violence just doesn’t make sense to me. All of that is about how we have let society transform us instead of us molding society.
If we ignore those who constantly promote divisiveness regardless of side will they lose power and disappear? A strong wind, churns up the water in the Gulf while a gentle breeze calms a violent sea so if ignoring isn’t the answer, we know that using the same force or style of attack upon the cancer will only spread the disease and widen the chasm. How do we combat the problems?
I don’t know why I wrote this piece. I guess it’s because for the first time in my life I think I’m truly experiencing the debilitating and rotting effect of hate.
I hate Hate!
The Race Race, the event where nobody wins and everybody loses.
I’m publically announcing my boycotting of this event and anyone who has any tickets which they either plan or hope to give me or leave at the ticket office for me, please use the ticket for any more beneficial purpose. Perhaps utilizing it to wipe any feces from your feet or shoes or sweat from your brow whether you stepped in it working out in the fields, in an office someplace, or working inside your home and doing everything possible to provide a positive environment for another.