Tag Archives: racism

In My World

In my world racism is non-existent. I understand in the real world there are bigots, and unfortunately racism will never be completely extinct. It’s a regrettable, unintended consequence of our God-given free will. The good news is I don’t think racism is running rampant in America as what is continuously being purported by the media and a select group of talk show hosts, celebrities, and even a few of our country’s representatives. I tend to agree with what President Barack Obama said recently, during his weekly radio address, concerning current race relations in the United States. Our nation’s Commander in Chief said, “I know that for many, it can feel like the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed and even widened. But the America I know…is just not as divided as some folks try to insist.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 63% of those asked think race relations in the U.S. are generally bad, but I personally have not witnessed any prejudice against minorities in all my 50 years residing on this earth. In my world racism did not exist in the small Iowa town I was born and raised in. There were only a handful of minorities living amongst Newton’s population of approximately 15,000. My initial exposure to a different race, that I can remember, was when I was in elementary school, and one day a foreign boy sheepishly entered the classroom. He had moved to town from either Peru or Panama (I know the name of his country started with a “P”), and he instantly became just another classmate. I can’t say as the Peruvian or Panamanian ever became my best friend, but we did get along swimmingly. Even though the new kid looked, dressed, and spoke a little differently, than everyone else, I certainly never considered him to be “less than.”

My next encounter with different nationalities was during high school. There were now a couple of handfuls of minorities in the same small town. Among them were Black siblings, and both were in my graduating class. I didn’t have much contact with either of them because although the male was into sports he didn’t play high school baseball (my forte), and his sibling was a girl. My senior year I enlisted the services of an Asian professional photographer to take my graduation pictures. The kind, soft-spoken, local business owner somehow managed to make even my mug presentable enough for the Class of 1984 yearbook. I never once felt an indifference toward my Black peers or Asian photographer, and I assume they felt the same about me.

In my world I believe the perception of a racially divided country was ignited in the summer of 2013, with the inception of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now I’m sure the members of Black Lives Matter couldn’t care less what some White guy has to say in regards to their organization, but I highly value my thought-provoking input (pause here for chuckles); therefore, I cannot remain silent on the subject. I think the majority of those involved in the extremely loud and sometimes disruptive movement are misguided in their transparent us (Blacks) vs. them (Whites) mentality. Additionally, the organization’s obvious blatant disregard for others is quite evident with their numerous attempts at shutting down major infrastructure when protesting. Any sympathy one might have for the Black Lives Matter movement surely diminishes once they become a nuisance and risk the safety of others. It’s one thing to knowingly cause an upheaval, but putting officers’ lives even more at risk, with the uprising of extremist cop killers, is reprehensible.

I sincerely believe the recently exposed shootings of Black men by White police officers are almost entirely of a peace officer vs. alleged perpetrator nature rather than a race related issue. Sadly, each new reported case erroneously gets lumped together, by the Black Lives Matter movement and the media, with all the prior police involved deaths instead of rightfully being examined individually. In my world the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile aren’t related whatsoever. Martin was killed by a neighborhood watchman…not a cop (and not White). Brown had committed a robbery and assaulted the store’s clerk shortly before being fatally shot by police. Garner was placed in a chokehold (forbidden by the NYPD) while resisting arrest which resulted in his death.

Gray’s demise came at the hands of law enforcement while intentionally being negligently transported in a police van (driven by a Black officer). I don’t think the public has enough information yet on the Sterling or Castile shootings to adequately determine whether the officers involved were justified or not in taking such extreme measures. Some of the aforementioned situations, ultimately ending with a person being killed, seem defensible to me while some don’t, but all are tragic. There is one common denominator in almost all of the incidents mentioned: resistance to authority. I cannot help but think the majority of those who died would still be alive today if only they had fully cooperated when being questioned.

Much has been said lately, and YouTube videos have been made, about the need for parents to have “the talk” with their Black sons. No, not the talk. Parents are being encouraged to teach their children what to do if ever they’re pulled over by the police: stay in the car, turn off the engine, roll down the window, and keep your hands on the steering wheel. However, many in the Black community seem to think it’s unfair that they should be singled out and forced to bother with such a thing, and some are even irritated by the measly suggestion. In my world proper protocol when being pulled over by the authorities is not a Black or White issue. This White guy was taught to stay in the car, turn off the engine, roll down the window, and keep my hands on the steering wheel by both my father and my Driver’s Ed instructor. It’s just common sense.

Time and time again I’ve heard the tiresome argument, mainly from those most vocal in the Black community, how a White person especially a White man can’t fathom what it’s like to be Black. I suppose I can’t – not completely anyway. I certainly can relate though when it comes to being followed around by a store’s employee for apparently no other reason than due to one’s appearance. There’ve been many times throughout my life when I’ve sported long hair and earrings, and during those times I was treated differently (whether real or imagined) by others. I reckon my tattoos don’t suggest I’m a straight arrow either, but I am (for the most part). In addition, I’ve been pulled over by the police and left wondering why even after the officer drives away.

I don’t pretend to entirely grasp the plight of the Black man; however, I assuredly can empathize with anyone who has ever been treated unfairly due to the color of their skin. In the 90’s I was turned down for a small business loan mainly because I’m a White male. (Thank you affirmative action.) The media, especially The Arizona Republic, continuously insinuated that if a person was White and did not vote for Obama, during his initial bid for the presidency, then that individual must be a racist. As a White male I have often been made to feel as though I was a problem, an obstacle if you will, preventing minorities from achieving success. In my world the implementing of quota systems and the numerous “no Whites allowed” award shows tend to make me feel “less than.”

I have lived in Peoria, Arizona, for the last nine years, where the city’s population is well beyond 150,000. The Valley is much more diversified than the Midwest town I grew up in, and in my world racism is still non-existent. My lovely wife and I were at Desert Ridge Marketplace a mere three days after the nationally reported White cop shooting of a Black man, Philando Castile. We were enjoying FREE live music at the mall’s outdoor stage, amongst other ethnic groups, and it was obvious everyone was having a splendid time. I noticed the mix of people dancing to the funky sounds of the Thaddeus Rose Band in particular a Black gentleman near the stage who was partying like it was 1999. (Prince would’ve been proud.)

A couple of young White girls joined the older Black man on the concrete dance floor presumably to learn his choreographed dance moves. The man tried earnestly to teach his eager students (who by the way – in stereotypical fashion – had no rhythm) how to properly “bust a move,” but to no avail. It suddenly dawned on me that here we were, lost in the moment without a care in the world, while our televisions at home were reporting on broken race relations and a country deeply polarized. I leaned over to the missus and shared how difficult it was for me to comprehend all of the recent negativity in the news, concerning alleged racism, when in my world I just don’t see it.

I’m thankful to be part of the 32% listed in the Washington Post-ABC News poll, which includes President Obama, who think race relations in the U.S. are generally good. Obama, also during his radio address, eloquently proposed, “If we can open our hearts to try and see ourselves in one another, if we can worry less about which side has been wronged, and worry more about joining sides to do right…then I’m confident that together, we will lead our country to a better day.” Well said, Mr. President. In the real world we can only hope that one day racism will become extinct.


Seriously?

My lovely wife and I were in Palm Springs this past weekend, celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary, when she said, “there’s your next blog.” She even suggested its title. We had been conversing about current events, throughout our mini-vacation, and my wife noticed we inevitably would ask ourselves the same question at the end of many of our discussions. One morning after getting our caffeine fix, at a local independent coffee shop, the missus finally made her suggestions known to me. We were leaving the establishment when I pointed to the colorful sticker affixed to the door. It donned the colors of the rainbow and stated, “diversity is welcome here.” My wife and I both immediately said, “Seriously?”

We didn’t understand why the coffee shop would purposely solicit the homosexual community, to be their customers, seemingly above everyone else. I initially felt a little discriminated against, since we were mere heterosexuals, but then I remembered those cake decorating businesses that caters to everyone except homosexuals. I guess fair is fair. However, when I owned a business I was thankful for anyone who was willing to be my customer. Anyway, it has been well over a year since the last time I let my wife influence my writing, and actually name my blog, so I figured it was about time I’d honor her request and allow her to do it again.

Last week a massacre took place inside a Charleston, South Carolina church. A young, White gunman opened fire, during a Bible study, shooting 10 Black parishioners: killing 9 of them. Apparently, some people think the despicable attack was against Christianity since the act of violence happened in a church. Seriously? I think the senseless crime was obviously racially motivated. The shooter, Dylann Roof, allegedly shouted racial epithets, while committing the murders, and his Facebook page and a website contains racist rants and photos of him wearing white supremacy attire. If any offence was ever to be labeled a “hate crime” I would think this one would certainly qualify; however, I’m generally opposed to using that term because all intentional murder derives from hate.

Also tragic, but of course on a much smaller scale, is the way such horrific events are politicized after the fact. The gun control and mental health debates quickly surface, but they are usually forgotten once the victims are laid to rest. This time there is an added dimension, to the political arena, since there is now a crusade to remove all Confederate flags from the capitol grounds of several Southern states. I’ve never claimed to be a history buff, so I’m not exactly sure what their flag is suppose to convey. I do know the Confederate flag’s design looks pretty sweet on top of The General Lee: the ’69 Dodge Charger co-star of The Dukes of Hazzard. Regardless, I would have to agree that if the Confederate flag construes a message of hate, towards the Black community, then it most-certainly should’ve been retired at the time slavery was rightfully abolished.

However, I adamantly disagree with those who profess that the recent shooting has set this country back in terms of our race relations. The atrocious actions of one sick individual does not erase several years of racial progress. I also fervently disagree with Eleanor Clift’s assessment, in wake of the devastating aftermath, when referring to the Charleston congregation’s decision to forgive the murderer. The McLaughlin Group panelist said, “This congregation and the Black community there is being extraordinarily gracious in forgiving – I’m not sure if that were a White congregation and a Black shooter if the Whites would respond quite so graciously.” Seriously? I worship at a predominantly White church, and I’m quite sure if the roles were reversed the majority of the flock would react in precisely the same manner.

I don’t really understand racism. My high school graduating class, of around 300 students, consisted of two Blacks, one Indian, and the rest of us, who were many shades of White; therefore, I’m hardly an expert on race relations. To single out an entire race though, or a religion for that matter, as being “less than” seems asinine to me. I might not be able to fully comprehend the past oppression of Blacks, but I do know a thing or two about reverse racism. When I was attempting to open a music store in my small hometown, during the mid-nineties, I became aware of just how difficult it can be for a White man to start his own business in this country.

I had researched the music store industry, contacted plenty of distributors, and found an excellent location for my establishment. I then formed a business plan and presented it to the city’s Chamber of Commerce. They approved the plan and agreed a music store would make a nice addition to the downtown area. I went to the bank, with my outstanding credit history in tow, to request a loan for the startup costs. After a pleasant meeting with the bank lender my request was denied. The representative solemnly and reluctantly informed me that I would not have any problem receiving the funds if I was Black, or a woman, or better yet if I was a Black woman. Seriously?

Fortunately, a special person was in the financial position to be able to loan me the money (and at a much better interest rate). The aforementioned type of reverse racism will continue to exist as long as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and affirmative action continues to exist. Likewise, this great nation of ours will never entirely rid itself of racism until all Whites consider minorities as their equals and all Blacks are willing to stop reminding the younger generations of their ancestors’ past years of persecution. That will never happen. Seriously!


Donald Sterling

I suppose since I am the Truth and Common Sense blogger I should weigh in on the whole Donald Sterling mess, but I tend to sometimes appear racist myself when discussing such matters. Not because I am, but because I have never felt the personal responsibility of trying to atone for any possible racist acts that may or may not have been conducted by my ancestors. I realize that is not the politically correct thing to say, but it is certainly the truth as I know it. Donald Sterling is the National Basketball Association’s Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who most people now no longer want to be associated with. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, or who simply have had the great pleasure of avoiding all of the non-stop media coverage, the Clippers’ Owner has been labeled a Racist. The unwanted title came after an audio recording (from 2013) was recently released. The so-called private conversation between Mr. Sterling and his then girlfriend, V. Stiviano, depicts him making racist comments to her.

Due to Mr. Sterling’s remarks he has been banned from the League for life, fined 2.5 million dollars, and most likely will be forced out of his ownership when the remaining team owners vote on his future. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, said he talked with several players before deciding Sterling’s fate, so I was not at all surprised with the sentence handed down since the League is predominantly Black, and the Owner is White. Commissioner Silver really had no choice but to severely punish Sterling with the looming threats, of a boycott and the possible cancellation of this year’s playoffs, coming from the majority of NBA players. It does not take a genius to understand the motivation behind most business decisions is money, and the NBA simply could not afford a shutdown, or rather their greed prevented it from happening.

Outspoken Dallas Mavericks’ Owner, Mark Cuban, conveyed his disgust towards Mr. Sterling, and at this point he feels the League would be better off without him, but he does not think the NBA can legally force him to give up his ownership nor should the League try to because of something Sterling said in private. I think Mr. Cuban was absolutely correct when saying, “I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.” When Donald Sterling inevitably is cast out of the League for good can we then assume there is no longer a racist bone left in the bodies of the remaining 29 team owners? I would guess not. Therefore, if and when another NBA Owner eventually gets caught saying something racist, whether publically or in private, then the exact penalty Mr. Sterling received will have to be enacted against all others since a precedent has now been set.

I’m not much of a gambler (see “Last Vegas” blog), but I do think it’s a safe bet to assume Mr. Sterling is no longer a fan of V. Stiviano – the woman whose voice can be heard on the infamous audio recording. I don’t know if she’s directly responsible for releasing the taped conversation, but I am suspicious as to why the 2013 recording even exists. I am also leery of the authenticity of the couple’s past relationship given the significant age difference, and I do mean grossly different. I suppose Miss Stiviano was a fan of Mr. Sterling’s money, and now she probably doesn’t mind her fifteen minutes of fame. My guess is she’ll take full advantage of the situation and after giving numerous interviews will find herself on some reality show or gracing the pages of Playboy. Regardless, the soon-to-be former Owner of the L.A. Clippers can only blame himself for his bigoted thoughts and remarks.

I for one am not a fan of the NBA, so I really don’t care how the League chooses to run its business, and I also don’t care one way or the other about their continued existence. However, I do believe we are all created equal, and I cannot begin to fathom ever disliking anyone solely based on the color of their skin. I think this country is as close to a racist-free nation as it can ever be. Most of the racism that still exists today, and sadly will continue, is because of those families who knowingly pass down their hatred of others to future generations; therefore, never completely ridding it from our society. There are not only people like Donald Sterling who fuel the racist fire, but there are some people in the minority races who are guilty of fanning the flames as well by not teaching their children and grandchildren to forgive and forget past transgressions committed against them. Believe it or not there are some Blacks who simply dislike Whites because of their skin color. Common sense tells me we should love one another regardless of race, or at the very least keep all ignorant attitudes to ourselves, but when have we ever been or will ever be a nation of common sense.