Friday, April 18, 2008

Racism Runs Rampant

No matter how many times people protest, institutionalized racism still exists in this country. Thank goodness my brothers and I were military brats and exposed to people and opportunities that today's young blacks will never have. I have a Master's degree as does one of my brothers, but it hasn't really helped us to get ahead. If you talk to any member of my family on the phone it is impossible to tell that we are black until you meet us and that still doesn't stop people from treating us as if we are mentally impaired. The best part is that those same people think we don't notice. We do. We just don't feel like fighting certain battles day in and day out because we may win the battle but we won't win the war and we get to start all over again the very next day or with the very next person. Such is life.

It's hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you are barefoot, but that doesn't stop racists from blaming people who haven't had a chance to improve their lives since the moment they were born. I expect stupid comments from people who are entrenched in their beliefs that it is always the person's fault no matter what the circumstances, what I didn't expect was to find it running rampant through the SF Bay area.

Yes, the majority of people on welfare are white but that is because there (at the moment) are more of them. Period. But it isn't a large percentage of the melanin impaired population whereas for blacks and Latinos it is. If one is crammed into a ghetto all their life it is hard to imagine or conceive of a different lifestyle. One that includes good schools with competent teachers, decent food, water, clean air, and the chance to have as good a life as a person who was born into a better neighborhood.

California is in the process of destroying its public school system with numerous cutbacks and quotas. People think that teachers are overpaid and then wonder why the quality of education is so bad. Good teachers can make money doing something else, so unless it is a calling they aren't going to go into a bad neighborhood where the schools are decrepit, the textbooks are so old that the last President mentioned is Reagan, science is nonexistent and the kids are already stressed from having no food and little to look forward to. If life tells you that you aren't as good as someone with privilege, unless you have authority issues and the knowledge to know when to use it to your advantage instead of being killed, you won't know not to believe the propaganda that blacks are still only worth three fifths of those outside the ghetto.

In a month I will be 52 and of one thing I am quite sure, racism has been increasing in this country under the guise of personal responsibility since the eighties. While Paris Hilton and Britney Spears can have problems that would put most blacks in jail for life, they have money and privilege that enables them to avoid most of the serious consequences for their actions. People may disapprove but they are still welcome in polite company. Let the average black person try some of those stunts and see what happens.

The late seventies were a time of hope and promise in this country, but those dreams have been squashed under the weight of reality. The reality that no matter how hard you try, people will still discriminate against those of lesser means and opportunity. It's easy to look down on people from the top of the mountain and say that if they would just try harder they can reach the mountain top, but it isn't so easy to climb up it if you don't have the tools.

Serena, Venus, Tiger, Kareem and Michael Jordan had talent and opportunity, a rare combination in anyone, which gave them a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. If I lived in the ghetto I would want to play sports instead of pay attention in school because it looks like that would be my only way out of poverty. Thanks to an illegal and immoral war, joining the military is not an option since all the positions that would enable you to have job skills after you get out have been given to private contractors. There isn't much use for repairing the guidance control systems on missiles (which is what I did) or driving a tank through a neighborhood looking for IEDs.

Hope is in short supply when you don't know where your next meal is coming from and you can' play outside because you might catch a stray bullet. As the federal and state governments cut back on services to the poor, these problems will only get worse. Schools will become more segregated as more parents with privilege send their kids to private schools and the quality of education will continue to diminish. If everybody else is using a computer to learn but your school district can't afford them, the world will continue to move away from you and despair will be your constant companion. Catching up won't be an option since libraries are closing, health care is being eliminated and food costs continue to spiral upward.

It isn't the fault of the children that they were born into lesser circumstances and punishing them even more will not help the situation. There are two Americas and one of them isn't very pretty. Blaming those who haven't had a chance since they drew their first breath won't help the situation but education will. Perhaps if we invested in their education instead of killing people half a world away it might make a difference.


No comments:

Post a Comment