Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Progress of Hate

When I graduated from high school in 1963, I lived in Toledo, Ohio. I was amazed when I started school there to find the bigotry there. The school population at that time was predominantly Polish Catholics and blacks and Jewish kids were barely tolerated. I went to four different high schools mostly due to moving around with different family members. Two of the high schools were in the south (Virginia and Georgia). In Georgia particularly, the Jim Crow laws were still in effect. If you don't know what they are, here is a brief run-down: the black children went to their own schools, there were "colored" and "white" restrooms, drinking fountains, etc.; The blacks had their own part of town in which they lived and never ever had a house in town. Blacks were sent to the back of the bus. This really happened, folks. If a black person was in line at a grocery store in front of me, I was helped first.

It was a shock when I first saw all this. I had lived in Cincinnati, Ohio until I was 9 and although there was bigotry, I am sure, it was not as blatant as it was in the south, particularly Georgia. I started college and totally supported the Civil Rights Movement. I could never understand the thinking that went on then: a black woman could raise a white woman's child and nothing was thought strange about that or that this same black woman couldn't have the same respect and rights that the white child would enjoy.

I really believed that Martin Luther King was a hero and I was proud to hear Hanna (my 8 year old granddaughter) tell me the story of Rosa Parks. I had optimism and faith that the hate would stop in my lifetime. Sadly, that is not so. We seem to be more divided than ever. In the name of tolerance and diversity, we are making our differences more important than those things we share that are the same. In the name of "choice", abortion clinics abound in black communities and more black women abort their babies than any other race. To me, it is a subtle way to "ethnic cleanse" our nation. The idea behind equal opportunity caused more division and, frankly, made any other nationality seem a little more "dumb" or "slow", thus we have to bend the rules for them. If I had skin of a different color than white, I'd be insulted!

Oh, the hate isn't as obvious as the colored and white restrooms, but it is there nonetheless. Our society and media are not promoting harmony and celebrating our humanity but rather how different we all are. I still agree with Dr. King that we should be judging a person by his/her character rather than the color of our skin. When are we going to do that?

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