Racism Is for Losers

The first time I became aware of anybody's skin color was at age five in kindergarten.  My mom had come to pick up me and my twin brother, and one of her girlfriends noticed that we were friends with one of the black kids in the school.  My mom's girlfriend remarked, "Isn't that sweet?  They're friends with a little black boy."

Even at five I found that remark unusual -- or maybe it was because I was five.  My brother and I played with kids because we connected on a "fun" level.  It didn't matter if they were different, or for that matter the same, when it came to anything physical. To us, fun was fun.  If you had fun with someone, you played with him.  If you didn't, well, you found someone else to play with.

That's the way it still is in kindergartens today.  Kids are just kids, and they play with the kids who simply like to play with what they like.  That's it.  That's how friendships are formed.

Children don't see a difference.  But as they grow, the world surely teaches them the difference.

There appears to be a movement afoot today to instruct children as young as kindergarten-age in "diversity" in hopes that they'll learn "tolerance" early enough to affect their adult lives.  In other words, as soon as possible, some adults seem to want to saddle kids with their own guilt or phobias or angst.  Good-bye, fun.

Elementary schools aren't the only ones getting in on the racial action.  In a totally different arena, churches are having racial unity seminars and conferences to make their congregations aware of how differences in people's skin color affect the way they grew up and how they live now.

Bottom line: race is a huge deal.

But, by rights, should it be?

This country fought a civil war over slavery based on skin color.  People marched in the streets and got brutalized, even killed, protesting discrimination.  People tried to make up for things by voting for a president based on the color of his skin.  The race thing has swung back and forth, never in the shadows, always in the limelight.  People have certainly made careers and millions and millions of dollars exploiting this hottest of hot-button issues.

So, when is enough finally going to be enough?

I've had occasion to confront people in New York City when they were being racist: once on the subway, when others were turning away and pretending they weren't hearing the verbal assaults; once right on Broadway, walking next to a guy who was ranting racist things into his cell phone, making sure everyone on the sidewalk heard him.  I let these nincompoops know, loud and clear, that they were being racist and that what they were saying was unacceptable.  (Later, a friend warned me to be careful because "crazy people" can become incredibly violent.  The sad thing was, though, that the people I confronted, by all other societal standards, were completely "normal.")

Racism needs to be confronted, flat-out -- but not drawn out.

One New York-area church seems to find it necessary to have racial awareness panels every three months or so.  I'm thinking of asking them, since I don't feel guilty personally about my own skin color, if I could set up a panel for height awareness.

You see, I've had an advantage all my adult life because I'm tall.  My shorter friends can't reach top shelves of cupboards (and they're humiliated when they see me doing that task with blatant ease).  I've had dating advantages, too -- girls don't like short guys (a documented fact).  And I could go on and on, if I weren't so danged ashamed.

I'm also thinking of starting a weight awareness group to dovetail neatly with "height consciousness."  Here, again, I'm one skinny dude, and that's a huge advantage.  If I can get together a panel of people 300 pounds and over, and have them talk about what it's like being, um, robust, this will definitely facilitate alleviating my feelings of weight superiority.

Of course, people would say that height and weight have nowhere near the destructive history of skin color -- and that's true.  They'll also say that they're not the same thing.  But that's my point -- race should not be at all different from height or weight or eye color or hairiness or anything else.  We've made it a big deal.

Years back, at a small church in Pittsburgh, a pastor dealt squarely with the race issue in the best way I ever heard.  The minister was discussing the passage where St. Paul talks about unity in the church body and that there no longer is any "Jew nor Greek, Slave nor Free, Male nor Female" and on and on (Paul had a pretty comprehensive list).  At one point in the sermon, the Pittsburgh pastor stopped short, looked out at the congregation, and said, "If anyone out there is still caught up in racial differences and thinks that the color of someone's skin means you treat them differently, I've got one thing to say to you -- you're a loser!"  Then he continued with his talk, not dwelling a second longer on the issue.

To all those still not convinced that any form of racism makes you one big loser, instead of going to seminars and awareness groups, rent the DVD of Blazing Saddles.  Within the first five minutes alone, Mel Brooks exposes the shear idiocy of treating people differently based on skin color.  By the end of the movie, believe me, any remaining speck of racism will be laughed right out of you.