Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Sad State of Race

A young man enjoys football. He makes friends playing on the Varsity team. His coaches and fellow players don't see him for his race. They see him because he's a hard worker. His fellow students cheer him and the team on. They don't win every game. Probably will never go to the State Championships, but that doesn't stop this young man from putting his heart into the game. But he's not just a knucklehead jock. He carries a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale. His teachers are happy with his performance. He's looking at good solid schools where he can carry his love of football and learning on to new heights and make his talents on the field pay for his studies off the field.

He has friends that cross race and gender and age boundaries. He teases friends who are both black and white. He makes no discrimination. This young boy has never been a victim of racism. He has never known racism. He is too young to remember most of the major racial revolutions in our country's fine history.

But today? He was stung with the sharp whip of discrimination. The boy, his coach, his parents, his entire family, and probably his friends were brought to tears. Because the boy was discriminated against. He was told "You can't play football." "You shouldn't be at this school." Not because of his grades or because of any trouble. But because of race. This young man, striving to live the American dream. Trying to make friends and get ahead in life, was thrown aside. Why? Because he's white.

That's right. This victim of racism is white. But how can that be?! I mean whites are always on top of the food chain. They always get special treatment. They're always the ones BEING racist!


So how do I substantiate my claims? Well let's first define racism.

Racism is a misnomer to begin with. None of the differences between black, white, yellow, red, or whatever 'color' people are have anything to do with race. There is one race. The human race. The 'racial' differences are caused by slightly different skeletal structures and skin pigmentation. No more. The rest? It's all culture and ethnic heritage. Germans differ from the French who differ from Russians who differ from Greeks who differ from the Portuguese who are different than Italians who are different than Spaniards who differ from the British. Yet all of them are considered 'European'. All would be considered 'white'. But do they have different traditions? Different culinary persuasions? Different religious heritage? Certainly. It's why each nation is separate. But they can all reproduce with one another. There is no racial separation.

But despite the misnomer that is Racism, we'll use it as long as we keep these things in mind. We'll even use it as it applies to skin color. And in speaking of skin color, we shall use two terms, going along with this absolutist mentality that racism brings about. Minority and White. White meaning Caucasian of course, and minority meaning... well... everything else. Please understand that these definitions I have given are not my personal beliefs, they are just defining terms so we're ALL on the same page when you read what I have written below.

So what is the rallying cry of racists? What drove/drives racism? What do the KKK and other organizations want?

A commonality between all of them is the notion of 'racial purity'. Hitler wanted Germany for Germans. The Japanese believed in the superiority of their own race. It is, in the best term, a separation of 'us' and 'them'. If you are not one of 'us' then you must be one of 'them'. It separates. It divides. It creates a world of absolute black and whites in an existence that at the best of times, is a thousand shades of grey.

In an effort to combat this separation that created the policy of 'separate but equal', the high court of the United States, the US Supreme Court, handed down decisions requiring schools and facilities to integrate minorities with whites. No longer could a school tell a black child that they could not attend a school because of their race. No longer could a person be denied employment or a place to live because they were of a different race. Instead? A new era dawned in tolerance and acceptance of diversity.

But did everyone pick up and move to make sure that our nation was a patchwork quilt where ethnicity was evenly distributed? No. Even today there are school districts where a majority of students are minorities and others nearby where a majority of students are white. Is it the school's fault that the majority of families in that particular school district belong to certain ethnic groups? Nope. The school isn't at fault. Is it the city or county or even the state? For not enforcing the equal opportunity housing laws like the 1968 Civil Rights Act (also known as the Equal Housing Opportunity Act)? Not at all. Is it simply the desire of mankind, an inherently social creature, to be surrounded by an environment including other humans that they identify with? That probably has something to do with it. This sort of segregation based on 'chance' is known in law as de facto segregation. Which for those who can't figure out that simple bit of Latin, basically means 'it is how it is'. It's not planned. It isn't forced. It just happens to be that way.

But segregation, according to the law, is segregation. So even though it is not this young football player's fault that white people HAPPEN to be the majority in his school district, he is still being punished and held accountable for it when his family moves out of the district and attempts to get dispensation so he can finish out his Junior and Senior year there where he has been going since the 5th grade.

"But what does all this have to do with race? How was he supposedly discriminated against?"

Remember the mention above about the US Supreme Court handing down that decision to integrate? Yeah. Close to 50 years ago in the late 1950's and into the 1960's, the Courts handed down those decisions to the states to enforce. Now, that said, the states CANNOT force people to move to other areas. That violates the 1968 Equal Housing Opportunity Act. BUT the Court's findings have created a Catch 22 scenario. Requiring schools to maintain a certain minimum percentage of minorities in their schools means that the simple Out of Area Request form is automatically approved for minorities wishing to go to this White majority public school. (That's right folks, this is a PUBLIC school don't forget). But because of the fact that this person is white, and there are no mitigating circumstances, his out of area request form is being denied.

Solely on the basis of race.

This child's opportunities to be scouted by colleges for football scholarships are being cut off, since he is not allowed to play football. His opportunities to continue the friendships he has forged over the last 6 years are being cut down because he may be forced to switch schools in the middle of his Junior year. His ability to attend college may be hampered because neither of his parents are rich enough to pay out of pocket for college if he doesn't get some sort of scholarship or grant.

Racism has robbed this child of innumerable opportunities. Racism, that is the making of decisions on the basis of race, needs to end. This young man is disadvantaged now because of his own ethnic heritage. A young man who has never made a racist decision, has never oppressed anyone, has stood up in defense of those who can't protect themselves, and has made his teachers, coaches, and family proud is now the victim of a terrible and vile ill that plagues our society. Racism.

People? The sooner you stop concentrating on the differences. The sooner we can get focused on the similarities. The sooner that happens? The sooner racism ends. The more we draw attention to 'white', 'black', 'yellow', etc. only prolongs the life of racism.

So why am I writing about this? Why do I care? How do I know so much about this individual case?

That football playing kid that has made everyone who knows him proud? The young man who can make people smile? The guy who believes in equality and conducting himself as a gentleman? Is my brother.

No comments: