…Although I truly try not to be. But still, I can feel it there in the back of my brain.Sometimes not as far back as I would like. It rarely if ever presents itself in any real manifestation…but it IS still there to some degree or another.
It’s like religion. While I would probably be considdered an agnostic, it is hard to escape my catholic upbringing. Bits and pieces still, illogically, rattle around in my brain.
And so it is with race. gender. sexual orientation. I grew up in rural america during the 70’s. Far removed from the vietnam era changes happening in some regions and pockets of the country. As far as I can remember I had no exposure whatsoever to blacks until I started playing little leauge baseball. None in my school that I can remember. None in the church. I think I was probably in my early teens before I ever even saw a hispanic, an asian, anyone who wasn’t black or white. I don’t think I ever knew a gay person until into my 20’s- although looking back I realize I did indeed know and respect quite a few. I just lived in a world and a time where they had to remain closeted- and while maybe many of the adults around me knew or assumed, it was never discussed.
So I guess I find it disenguous when I hear people say they arent “xyz” because they have friends that are “xyz”. Or when I hear discussions that america doesnt have a ( :…ism) problem.
Because I do see that for far too many people these isms still exist strongly. Undoubtedly it is true that in many parts of society it has become less politically correct to express them. And for many, many more americans, I think their isms have become tempered- in that they can accept those that have some commonality with and or respect for. But for those they don’t understand or respect- the old isms bubble to the surface and make the feelings more virulent.
We, as a nation may have come a long way, but we still have only taken the first steps. We still have a very long way to go.
And I can’t help but feel that, as a nation, have been too quick to pat ourselves on the back every time we have, through legislation, “given” the rights to a group long denied them. And that we have failed miserably at addressing the underlying human weaknesses and prejudices, our underlying weaknesses and prejudices, that caused them for so long. And further failed miserably to accept and address the damage caused by decades or centuries of discrimination- something that can take generations to begin to repair.
So yes, I’ll admit as much as it troubles me, that I am a racist, a sexist, a homophobe…as I would argue are most people I know- even many of those within the discriminated against groups. (and I would argue that the “isms” that exist within discriminated groups is a sign of the lasting damage caused.)