Though most people fight hard to eliminate racism, it continues to push itself into news and conversation. We continue to hear in movies and from the mass media that people are being prejudged every day. I’m sure there are a few people that live on the fringe of society that prejudge and treat people unfairly, but my belief is that these people are not the problem. The rouge racist can be ignored and even contained if needed. I believe that the real problem lies in the figurative ‘boy who cries wolf’ that shouts racism every time his cause isn’t advanced and numbs our minds so much that we ignore him when it really happens.
You may be thinking what can a blue eyed Caucasian boy know about prejudice, but everyone experiences it at some point in life. Corporate prejudice shows up in my mailbox every month in the form of expanded insurance premiums and call to arms pamphlets from the military based on my sex and age. The character of the person being judged shines through when they dismiss the prejudice and move on. I could make a big deal about the huge gap in my insurance prices and the average female. I could go to my congressman or even file a lawsuit claiming I have been discriminated against, but I don’t. I don’t take it or as an attack on my character. I understand that these people have no idea who I am or what I am about so I ignore them and carry on. At first glance you may think that my experience with prejudice could never be compared to racism but I urge you to look further. I am being judged because I fall into a certain group not necessacarly because I’m a bad person. Its is my understanding that this is exactly what racism is. So why don’t we call every incident of prejudice racism, because they’re the exact same thing? You never hear on the anyone on the evening news crying racism when they are denied access to their chosen college because their spot was taken by an under qualified African American to appease the affirmative action people.
You may not agree with me but my logic is sound. If every black person ignored prejudice and fought hard to show that they don’t fit into a predescribed category, they would eventually become assimilated into the world and racism would not be an issue. If every motivated African American fought hard to go to college, to be a racecar driver, to be a congressman, no one would be able to look down at blacks because of their skin color. If people would not cut themselves short because of the color of their skin, they could move past it and help eliminate racism. It could be said that racism is advanced every time someone uses the word as a defense in a criminal case or civil suit. I was once told by a very wise man “if you ignore it, it doesn’t exist in your mind.”
My theory is certainly not perfect, but it has a firm logical base. It may hurt some African Americans to consider that they may be helping advance racism and I’m sure that this thought may make a few angry. If we as a society wouldn’t be so sensitive to conversations such as this we might be able to move on. Everyone should be treated fairly but the fact is that everyone is treated badly. If African Americans would realize that everyone else is treated badly too, they would finally know that not every time they are denied something they want is racism.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.