jayday wrote:Can't help but shake my head that the Armed & Famous thread gets more views and replies than the MLK thread....
I deal with this every day at my job, so I didn’t exactly want to talk about it here on my day off. I had my little girl at home yesterday, and when she asked why there was no school and I didn’t go to work I told her, “There was a man named Martin Luther King. He taught us that it doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from or what we look like. We can all still be friends no matter what.” She got it.
That’s my first step with her about MLK. We’ve already had some talks about people who look different, but I’ve never brought race up to her per se. I don’t want to have to, either. I have a theory that if we ignore race, it’s not an issue. Racism is taught, not instinctual. I’m afraid that if I make a big deal about it she’ll focus on race more. If we leave it alone, she’ll never even know it’s an issue. That’s my hope. Plans will change if that’s not right, but I’m pretty sure it is.
Something that I’ve always thought was funny in an odd way – I grew up with a lot of casual racism, mostly directed towards Blacks. We had a black car when I was a kid, and the name we gave it is pretty insensitively racist. We called Brazil Nuts by a racist slur, too. It was just how I grew up and I didn’t know any better. I’m sure my mom knew what those names really meant, but knowing her as I know her now (as an adult) I know she’s not racist. The times were different, and she probably felt it was more of a joke than anything. She never taught me to think of myself different because of race.
But here’s the funny thing – even though I grew up in an environment of very casual racism, there were NO other races in my town, just a bunch of White people. Because of that I never learned to attach any of that crap to any “kind” of person. It was just there. As I grew up the world changed and so did my parents’ attitude towards that stuff. My mom got a job in Omaha and actually started working with people of other races so that kind of talk stopped. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how racist some of that stuff was, and I was kind of embarrassed for my parents for that.
It was a different time, so while that doesn’t make it right it makes it more understandable. We’ve all come a long way since then, and I think that if I were ever to talk to my mom about those names she’d be pretty embarrassed today.
And how ironic is it that I’m an EEO Investigator today and I vigorously go out and stamp this kind of crap out when we find it? We’ve come a long way as a country, and I can definitely see that in my life. I’m proud of my job and the work we do. I’m also proud of my state that true racial discrimination is far in the minority of things we investigate at my office. It still exists and it still happens, and maybe it will never truly go away, but it’s better. And we have Martin Luther King, Jr. to thank for that.