License Plates and Racism…

License Plates and Racism…

Racism is one of those words that can be defined in any number of different ways. No matter how we always decide that we are not a racist. Everyone else is. Even if you are not you might want to read on. Not being trivial or insensitive, but I thought I would take TTG Airlines up to 30,000 feet for a look.

The crazy part is that this little thorn in our side has been around for millennia. Man(and woman to a lesser degree) have always tried to compartmentalize things and people. As the world has grown, those silos have become larger in size and more numerous. In Biblical times there were the real Jews and the fakes. Pharisees, gentiles, goyems, you name it. And they despised each other looking around the temple square in disgust at the unwashed masses and shrugging their prayer shawls in contempt.

We have always strove to make ourselves the higher caste in wealth and intelligence. Enter the Dark Ages when monarchies and the Catholic Church vied to be king of the hill. While the bishops and Popes were claiming to be anointed by God, the royalty was establishing bloodlines to make sure there was no spoiling of the family tree with illegitimates. Muslims had the Shiites who claimed a pure birthright and the Sunnis who were the unworthies.

The Baltic states thought less of the Mediterraneans and the Iberian peninsula was beyond inferior.Hitler proved that the concept of the super race was still alive and well and killed six million Jews to make sure things stayed intact. I am not being frivolous or disrespectful but left to his own designs man has always come up with some conflated theory on why he or his own are superior.

We have continually labeled people white, yellow, red and brown but the one that really sticks out literally is a black person.Now when we picked sides there was little if any doubt who the bad guys were.Blacks won every time. We even go so far as to ascribe blackness to evil,satanic rituals, the underworld and the beta noire in filmdom. We have developed a culture of blackness that encompasses slavery, brute force, criminals and diminished mental capacity. All because they are black and that is wrong. I am not saying we are all not guilty to some extent but it still doesn’t make it right.

When a child is born it does not know color. Racism is not inherent. It is a learned habit from one’s environment and most of all from our parents and family. We hear appellations and attitudes. We look up to kin folk for guidance. We idolize them and look for attribution. If they say it is so, it has to be the truth. And we continue this through life because we want to be accepted and thought well of.We are followers not free thinkers. Sooner or later it makes perfect sense no matter what and please don’t confuse my beliefs with facts.

We keep score. We rank things and people as inferior or superior. The Catholic Church and many others are racist because the hierarchy are holy and chosen by God and you are the lowly. If you are in my group I love you and if you are counter then I hate you. It is as simple as that. It is said if you lived with the enemy for 30 days you might get to like him and understand his or her point of view. That enemy could be a black or a transgender or a Muslim or a Jew from New York City. God forbid we might learn something or render one of our long held tenets fallacious or at least on shaky ground.

We have a lot of foreigners here in Colorado. You can tell by their license plates. Arkansas has to be the land of Rubes and hicks. Texans are obnoxious because all they do is brag. California? Got to be a weirdo of some sort. Isn’t it the land of fruits and nuts? Florida guarantees you are old. New York or New Jersey? Need I say more. Just listen to me with my stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. And I consider myself a thinking man. My hair shirt is still in the closet but I am starting to feel uncomfortable in my ivory tower.

There was a PBS special, America in Black and Blue. It portrayed an eloquent young black man who said he didn’t choose to be black. He was born that way. He said right from the get go he was held to a different standard. He had to be twice as smart to just get in the door.He didn’t feel it was fair and I think he is right. He was not shaking his fist in rage but pleading his case in incredible poignancy. It really slapped me in the face. Not unlike hearing from a cop who comes upon a crime scene and is scared shitless because he does not know what he is up against. Man, do I have to rethink this.

Going back to that baby thing we should look at our fellow inhabitants of the world with a bit of childlike innocence. Don’t pick someone out with preconceived notions but with a sense of who are you and what do we have in common? Racism like so many other things is not inherited trait but a learned behavior. As such it can be unlearned or are we so stubborn as to not even give it a chance? Like alcoholism or drug abuse it takes a depth of despair and a long look in the mirror to finally admit we have a problem. Are we there yet?

As always
Ted The Great.

Factoids:

Crime statistics are really baffling. Of cop killings 50% of the victims are white and 26% are black. Black and Hispanic officers are are three times more likely to shoot a perp than white officers are. The rate of violent crime in black areas is much higher than in black areas so one would think the opposite would be true.

Since the War on Drugs has zeroed in on use, the stats show black and white usage of all sorts to be equal at around 28% combining all types of drugs. Yet the blacks are arrested at three times the rate of whites and represent 59% of those in prison on drug offenses. One must wonder if every man or woman were stopped on a given evening if those arrest rates might be skewed entirely differently?

In my research I stumbled upon some quotes by Edward R Murrow. Somehow they just seemed appropriate.

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices–just recognize them.”

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.”

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”

“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”

PAX until next time.

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