Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Thursday, January 19, 2017

the business of humanity

 I want to tell you about someone I know. How should I do that ? Would it be sufficient that I tell you of their character ? Is that all the description you require ? Well, it should be, but we all know that it isn't. No, we do need more context don't we ? And what do we usually begin with ? Whether they are male or female adds immediate context doesn't it ? Why is that ? The fact is they are different animals, aren't they ? Yes, there is no denying that. Same species different gender. A gender determined by birth. That person may choose to alter that later on. That speaks to their character though, not their gender. Setting that distinction aside my next descriptor is going to be what ? The color of their skin. The color of their skin defines their race, isn't that correct ?  No, it isn't correct but it is what most of us are taught to believe. In America we do view races as more or less black and white, with a recognition of the native Americans. For many years we called them what ? Red Skins so there you go. It is from these starting points that we begin our descriptions of each other. The reasons are obvious, They are the things we see first !
 So where does racism originate ? It is found in preconceived notions of how people will respond in certain social situations. America was founded predominately by white skinned Europeans. That is the society, or at least it used to be. That is not to say it was, or is, superior to any other society. The " red skins " were subdued, there lands taken. Those with black skin were bought and sold at the market. They were predominately from Africa being sold by Muslim traders. Strange isn't it that those same white Europeans didn't object to doing business with them, after all, their skin isn't exactly white either. But they were called the " Muselmen " now called Muslims. We were by no means friends with them, it was just business. In fact several of the founding fathers expressed great concern over these " Muselmen. " It was they, by a majority, that became the Barbary coast pirates.
 The goal is to eliminate racism. The question is how ? I certainly don't have an answer for that. I do have thoughts about a beginning though. How about the way we describe each other. The moment I apply a " label " to you ideas are formed. If I say you are black or white or an Indian you form a picture of that person. It is my thought if we just quit making a big deal about that it would help. Isn't it rather insulting when a white guy says, I'm not a racist, I have black friends. I can't recall ever hearing a black man say that about his white friends. Why is that ? Is it only that white folks are racists ? Certainly seems to be the narrative I hear most often. As a white guy if I associate with black people it is viewed as an exception is it not ? Why ? I have heard that if black folks hang out with white folks that can be viewed quite harshly in the black community.
 On Martin Luther King day I wrote about this. I was talking about the character of a person. Isn't it the character that makes the person ? The color of your skin does not define your character. MLK said that very thing but apparently not many are listening. We have continued to form an opinion on the character of a person based solely on their skin color. I'm just as guilty of this as the next man. If I want to tell you about someone and that someone is white, I probably won't mention that. Should that person be of a different skin tone, I will most likely mention that. Why is that ? I'm ashamed to admit that is simply because I do relate certain character traits with specific skin colors. Is that fair ? Of course it isn't and it is something that needs to be changed. It is as Dr. King said, the content of your character, not the color of your skin, that should be the standard in our society. That was the original intent of the founding fathers. That is exactly what they meant when they penned those words " All men are created equal. " The issue lies in not all men respond equally. Equal opportunity also does not guarantee equal results. This is true regardless of skin color.
 In certain contexts saying you are black will get me labeled a racist. At other times it may be acceptable, like if I am giving you an award. Then it is permissible to say you are an African-American or Hispanic almost as if it were further proof of your worthiness. We even have an entire month devoted to the history of Black Americans. Why is that ? Are they not Americans and included in American history ?  Why should they be singled out ? When you think about it, it is rather condescending in a fashion. When we learn to get past this we will have made significant progress,when you or I can say, without fear of judgement, that a person is white, black or whatever. That is to say when that is taken as a simple descriptor, like male or female or short and tall. We laugh and joke about statements made in that regard. Blonde jokes, short people jokes and the like are dismissed. Why don't we do that when we say someone is black ? Is it culture ? The dictionary describes culture as : the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively : as in American culture. Why should we as Americans believe that African-Americans have a different culture than our own ? Have not African-Americans been instrumental in forming our culture, the American culture ? I'm not a European-American why do many black folk automatically assume they are African-Americans ? Fact is, they are just as American as I am. Their beginnings in this country are certainly of a different circumstance that can't be denied, although even that isn't 100% accurate. Certainly a majority though. But that isn't the point. The point being what culture are they born to for I don't believe you can just adopt a culture. I come from German descent but could spend a lifetime and never fully understand the German culture. So that begs a question, is it culture or character that defines us ? Martin Luther King was correct in that it is character.
 And so I have written the obvious once again. We all are inherently aware of all I have said. I believe that. It is only our own agendas that interfere with that. It really is all about business isn't it ? What is the business of humanity ? Now there is a big question.