Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Racism Is Stupid

Racism is stupid. There I said it. I feel better. Now let me explain why I think the way I do. (This is what happens when Charlie goes to sleep and leaves me up alone.)   

When I was in the 8th grade, Greg G. called me a nigger on the balcony of some hotel in some city where we were playing in a basketball tournament. And, at that moment, I learned three very important lessons. I learned that Greg was not the friend that I thought he was. I learned to suspect that there were other people who smiled at me in one moment and secretly referred to me as a nigger in another. And, I learned that racism was stupid. I can still remember the misfortune of that moment as if it was 4 days ago.  I remember never wanting to pass the ball to Greg anymore after that incident. I remember not wanting to practice with him, speak to him, or be around him from that moment on. In that one moment, Greg by his statement and me by my response to it, made the team weaker and us more susceptible to loss. That is the price that we paid for Greg’s statement that I was, what he said I was.  Today, I wonder what it was that we paid so great a cost to achieve. What did we sacrifice out team’s strength for? What had Greg achieved by saying that? What had I achieved in my response to it? I was still taller than he was. He was still a better basketball player than I was. I was still smarter. He was still richer. Nothing was changed in that moment but our relationship and that strength of the team. There was no gain from his pronouncement that I was this thing that he said I was. And so much was loss from it. Racism is stupid.

It doesn’t gain any of us a single thing. If you say it is oppressive and it keeps “those people in their place” then you have to consider that no one benefits from the oppression of another. And, you have to see the empirical evidence that “those people” are still getting into places that were not originally theirs. What do we benefit from our racism? Our country does not benefit from it. Our communities do not benefit from it. Our work places do not benefit from it. And no person can be oppressed absent the constant effort and force exerted by another who is therefore free to do nothing else. Racism is stupid. It may grant individuals some fleeting sense of superiority. But, what good is that? And if that is all that you get by attempting to subvert the progress and growth of another individual, then you have “paid too much for your whistle”.  Racism divides our team and occupies our members in nonproductive exercises that lead to fleeting fruit if any at all.  So, why do we practice it? Why is it such a painful part of our culture and community, when it is clearly so stupid? Racism and our unhealthy distrust of and distaste for individuals solely because of their color keep our judicial scales from ever balancing. We make rules to “control” those that we see as uncontrollable. We create a judicial system that is less concerned about general deterrence and more focused on specific vengeance. So, when OJ kills and gets off some celebrate; not because they were sure OJ was innocent, but in part because they longed for the “other” to know their pain and live their existence, if only for one moment. And, when George gets off and blacks are thrust harshly and painfully back into the reality that brown boys’ lives may not be valued as much at their white counterparts, we cry foul and hurt and “damn this is never going to end”. We then turn our head toward the one that called us “nigger” and begin the process of depriving our team of the benefit of our talent and the talent of those around us. We start the process of setting our team up for loss. And the one who called us what they called us, (because he now fears for the life of “way” and “rightness”) attempts to kill any assertion that he was wrong for what he said, with no regard for and unapologetic for the hurt that he caused and continues to cause. Racism is stupid.

And so I celebrate every moment that goes by when one racist neglects to, or forgets to remind the children they are rearing that they too must be racist. I puzzlingly celebrate the life of every racist who dies not having had the chance to infect one of our babies. I pray that my children’s children will never have the stench of racism embalmed within their existence. I wish that the racists who win Pyrrhic victories would recognize them as such. And I hope that one day we will evolve to the point where as a country we can proudly profess that RACISM IS STUPID, and we aren't.

I love you each.