Your childhood memories and mine may reflect some of the same experiences and thoughts that need to be reviewed for seeds of “racism.”
Most would expect a child to be oblivious to the underlying racism of maintaining the “separate but equal” fallacy and living in a basically isolated “white society” without recognizing it as elitism (it was just natural, the way things were and should be).
My childhood taught me: Blacks shouldn’t sit in the same area of a theater as whites and they should enter by a different door to cut down on “contamination” – blacks should not be allowed to eat in the same area as whites in a restaurant but should be treated like other animals, eat out back – and the list goes on and on including not being allowed to walk down the same streets as whites or living in houses like whites or being lynched for entertainment or serving their only purpose which was to serve whites.
I would say: “I was raised in a fairly fundamentalist church culture” in mostly white Michigan, Indiana, and North Carolina. My dad and his father were both fundamentalist preachers and the “one-true-church” was central to our lives.
So, my childhood planted the idea that my church membership made me “better” than those who did not “belong” to the “one-true-church” and was only one seed in the elitism that was naturally mine to a large extent—I was white, born with white skin which automatically put me in with those covered by the founding fathers of our nation who defined white privilege, my birthright—clearly it did not apply to blacks.
I would like to share just a few thoughts about how racism can be buried under acceptability and how cognitive blindness provides rationalization to make us comfortable in denying racism which is dangerous to our growth as human beings.
Racism and elitism are “insidious” dividers and
it is vital that I understand these words
if I am to be able to explore my inner beliefs.
—insidious: operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect
—Racism: The belief that some races are inherently superior (physically, intellectually, or culturally) to others and therefore have a right to dominate them.
—Elitism: pride in or awareness of being one of an elite group
“Elitism” began being used in the 1950s as the struggles between “whites” and “blacks” became more obvious and led into the 1960s with many confrontations to establish control of society (KKK and white supremacy groups against Martin Luther King Jr., President John F Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson, and many others)—I lived through this time and would have denied being racist although I was a supporter of George Wallace and, as a high school student, listened to his speeches that encouraged pride in my race and my need to protect myself from the dark enemy of integration and all efforts to take away what was “mine.”
I changed my mind completely when the murders of three civil rights workers were revealed on my birthday in 1964
BUT my understanding was limited since I did not have to deal with being denied
• the right to vote or
• the right to live where I wanted to or
• the right to not be lynched or
• the right to travel or even walk down the street without fear of harm,
so it was fairly easy to be oblivious to it happening to others and it seems today to still be easy for whites to ignore and even justify those subtle markers, those mindsets that demean non-whites, and the going forward in our easy non-threatened lives “oblivious” to racist “seeds” within our subconscious.
I have to stand up and say:
racism and elitism are both alive and well today and we need to stop denying it.
I pray that GOD will
• open the eyes of our hearts to our own culpability,
that GOD will
• keep our hearts compassionate to the struggles of our neighbors,
and that GOD will
• draw us to respond within the filter of the “golden rule”
In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.
My heart cries out for GOD to open our eyes to ourselves . . .
not in judgment, but in opening the door to healing of all our hearts.
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