On Being White.

Patrick Ryan patk at journalist.com
Fri Nov 8 19:49:46 MST 2002


On Being White.
by Patrick Ryan

I recall growing up a rural community.  I was not allowed to watch
shows that portrayed black people positively. I was not allowed
to date "different" girls (meaning Hispanic, being in the southwest).

I am not now, or have ever been a racist.  At 16, my hero was Mumia Abu-Jamal.
I remember trying to get petitions together and having people tell me, "son, that nigger
deserves what he gets.  You think he'd be out here petitioning for you?"
My small, rural southwest town was peaceful.

Despite the racial diversities, and racism from multiple sides, I managed to eventually
date that pretty girl who happened to be Hispanic.  I made friends, who happen to be African
American.

I now think back to when I couldn't watch "Family Matters" and other shows.
I remember not knowing who Martin Luther King Jr. was.  I look back with smiles,
for how far I have come, and how far I have to go.

I now see racism.  My co-workers have trouble finding decent housing, simply because
they are black.  I have friends who have trouble finding work at good offices, even
though they are qualified, they are not white.  The counter side, I have white friends
who cannot work in some areas because they are white.

Racism is not a decease among white people alone.  I have seen it from many eyes, for
many reasons.  I tell my little brother about my experiences.  I alert him when he slips
and makes a racist comment -- something that was taught in my house.

It is easy to be racist.  It is easy to let small racist jokes pass.  It is easy.  It is easy
to commit genocide.  It is easy to distrust someone because they aren't your skin
color.  It's hard to fight ignorance.  It's hard to stop racism.   But in the end -- is it not
the hard path the most valuable?

I remember walking home one cold December day and a young man, about my age,
shouted from his passing car, "You look cold, white boy!" as he chuckled away.
I see other kids without jackets, walking home.  Some black, some white, some Hispanic.
We are all cold.
--
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