I am not sure what year it was, I was just a little guy. My Mom & Dad, and my Aunt Dort and Uncle Fred were peas in a pod. They were great friends, spent lots of time together, went dancing together, and mirrored one another to a large degree. Whatever one couple did, the other was not far behind. When the Provoncha’s took in a foster child, my parents took in her sister. That kind of thing, they simply lived a simple life, happy to be best friends and family.
We grew up in Ticonderoga NY in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Small town America, much like it remains today. About 2,500 people in town. My Dad was from nearby Hague NY, population about 700 or so. Back then, these two communities shared at least one thing in common, there were NO black folks, NONE.
I never saw anyone of a different color until sometime in the mid 60’s, both couples decided to play host to young black children in the “Fresh Air” program. The program still exists today, with the concept being that a young person from the City gets to grab some “Fresh Air” in the Country. It’s a great idea and we wound up with a young man of color, his name is Vincent. He got to spend two weeks running around the fields that I knew, fishing in the crick, rowing a boat on Lake George, and mowing some grass. We had a lot of fun. He got homesick, and I got to come to the reality that there were people different than I was, but we were still all the same. It was a great lesson for a young lad, and I truly thought that I was NOT a racist.
Nearly 20 years ago now, my youngest daughter called me one day. Long before that, she had asked me when I thought people should get married. I told her, in all seriousness, that I thought 35 was a good age. Apparently, she wasn’t prepared to take that advice, so when she called and told me that she was in love and was getting married, I wasn’t all that surprised. What DID surprise, no SHOCK me, was that she had fallen for a young man of mixed race.
I was startled, to say the least. I don’t recall being mad, or upset, just stunned. That’s the right word. I suddenly became aware of feelings that I’d never experienced before, and frankly, couldn’t quite believe about myself. Seems like having a black friend, and in fact, having LOTS of black friends including a best friend while in the Military, I still was NOT prepared for THIS.
Just about as soon as I recognized what was going on, I felt ashamed of myself. How could I, ME, this guy who fought side by side with, partied with, defended, and then ultimately caused the death of a black man who was far far far more than just a friend….how could I be a racist??? I got sick, I mean really, really sick.
AND. THEN. I. FIXED. IT.
I made a decision that this was the WRONG way to feel, and I was NOT going to allow myself to have these moronic feelings that would, if I allowed it, destroy not only my relationship with my daughter and any potential grandchildren, but in the end, it would destroy ME, because I am simply NOT THAT GUY. I could no longer walk upright with those kinds of thoughts in my head, than I could go around shooting people. I did MORE than push it out of my head, I flushed it out of my system and resolved NEVER to be caught like that again.
And thus, I became colorblind. TRULY colorblind. I don’t even SEE color anymore. I like that part of myself.
I tell you all of this, to explain, simply, that I know a little bit about racism.
Racists are everywhere, even places you’d never suspect. Think you’re not a racist? Ask yourself, how would you feel if your daughter came home with a black, brown, yellow or red man, and told you she was going to marry him. It’s a great gut check, and you’ll discover some things about yourself very quickly, IF you’re honest with yourself.
So let me tell you about racists, just a little bit.
When you own rental properties, and you turn down rental opportunites from a person of color, you’re a racist. If you find yourself distrusting someone, simply because they don’t look like you, you’re a racist. If your’e out shopping and a person of color stands next to you and you have a visceral reaction, you’re a racist. If you don’t trust anyone who is of color, you’re a racist. If the thought of having a friend of color is foreign to you, you’re a racist. If the mere THOUGHT of having more folks of color than your own around you is upsetting, trust me, you’re a racist.
It works JUST like that.
I am NOT convinced, that a foolhardy college stunt of wearing blackface is exactly racist, but I’ll err on the side of caution and tell you that you should be doing a careful self examination, if you have done that.
But racism is SO much more than all of that. It’s an insidious crime of humanity but there is some GOOD NEWS.
Racism is not inherited. You can’t “catch” it, and you can’t go to the Seven 11 and buy a case of it.
IT. IS. TAUGHT.
Your parents, your grandparents, your Uncles and Aunts, the people you grow up with. THEY teach it to you, and IF that’s the case, your best move is to change your circle of friends right away. While you can’t change your family, you CAN change your family. What I mean is, you can’t just find new parents, etc, but you can sit down and try to explain to them, how this has hurt you, and if you don’t BELIEVE that it HAS hurt you, then it’s hurt you way more than you can understand.
RACISM. IS. BAD.
Now you MIGHT think, that racism is only in the South. You’d be wrong. Racism lives, eats, sleeps and breathes everywhere. New York City to Bangor Main, to Chicago and San Diego California. In big cities, small towns, and military bases, all over the world, and left unchecked, it will destroy us all.
Would I date and marry a black woman? If I loved her, and she loved me, sure. I’m colorblind, remember.
Folks, there’s a LOT of talk about “racism” in the news today. Governors, Presidents, all kinds of folks are being called out. How do we KNOW IF they are truly racists?
It could be fairly said, that for a few minutes of my life, I WAS a racist. I changed it, sure, but only because I didn’t want to be like that. Some people don’t, or won’t change and unless they start a rant in the middle of the mall, you’re not going to know. I was at a party not long ago, and someone I’d recently met, started throwing the “N” word around. We quickly put that fire out and had a long chat about it, but do I KNOW, for sure, that it was just a foolish mistake or whether they’re a born again, full fledged racist? Nope, no way to know.
Racism, is like fire. It needs oxygen to exist. Take the oxygen away, the fire goes out.
It’s about TIME, boys and girls, that we take the oxygen away from the white supremacists, the whacko milita’s, the proud boys, and everyone else, Politician or Business, where racism lives. Let’s END this horrible thing now. Stop teaching it. Report it when you find it, refuse to allow it to breath in your space, and be unafraid to confront it.
It’s time, today, to hit the DELETE button, and make this stupid go away.
C’ya on the Radio.