Today, we are in the midst of a presidential election. People are talking about race.
Some people say that racism in the United States no longer exists. They say that the only people who complain about racism are playing a race card and looking to blame others for their failings. People who know better disagree. People who know better understand that racism and racial discrimination are still alive and well in the United States of America.
According to the folks at HumanRights.gov, racial discrimination is what happens “when a person is treated less favorably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, color, descent, national origin or immigrant status.” When you look at things in light of this definition, it is quite obvious that racial discrimination is still running rampant not only in the United States, but throughout the world.
As the wife of a black man and the mother of four black children living in the United States of America, I do not have the freedom to talk about race only when some big events happens on the news. My children are black children. This means they had to learn about race and racial discrimination at a young age. Those lessons had to be expanded and reinforced as they aged. It was important to me that their first discussions about race and them being black children be positive ones that would make any future negative things they might hear seem like exceptions and not the truth about who they are as people. I wanted to be sure they were secure in the knowledge of their place in the universe and their value to the world.
I taught all my children about race and racism when they were young, before they started kindergarten. I knew they would be going to school in a majority white school so I wanted them to feel comfortable with themselves and their place in the universe before anything could happen to destroy that. When I explained to them that racism was treating people differently because of their skin or where they were born my twins had the exact same response, “Well that’s stupid. You should treat each person fairly. You are supposed to treat people the way you want to be treated.”
I was encouraged by the fact that my girls thought racism was wrong and that they planned to treat each person as an individual and not blame any person for the misdeeds of some members of that group. If young children who have not started kindergarten yet can recognize that racism exists and is wrong, perhaps there is some hope for the grown-ups among us.
So the question for you today is, do you prefer to ignore racism in the United States or do you acknowledge it exists and want it to stop?