Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A Hopeful Bigot
Yesterday, some of you were outraged when a few people suggested, at a Bethlehem forum, that some police officers are racists. Some of you seemed to argue that driving with an expired inspection sticker is a capital offense for which cops should shoot you on sight, black or white.
Fortunately, most people don't feel that way, including cops. Most officers try to be fair, respectful and polite to one and all, regardless of their race. But racism still exists, even among cops. They are human beings and have the same shortcomings as the rest of us.
I'm a racist myself. The first thing I notice about a black person is his or her color. If I were truly free from prejudice, the first thing I would notice is the person. But I'm not. Bigotry has been hammered into me. I grew up in Hellertown, where I was told as a child that black people were not allowed to use swimming pools like the rest of us because they smell funny in the summer.
As a kid, if I thought someone cheated me in a deal over baseball cards, I'd say he "Jewed" me
This thinking started to change by the time I reached high school. I delude myself into thinking I have finally been enlightened and am nothing like those real racists. But then some poor black or Hispanic will walk across the street in a crosswalk in front of me, and will be moving just a little too slowly for me.
"That n---er has an attitude," I tell myself.
But the person with the attitude is me.
I'm a bigot and will die a bigot. It's ingrained in me, as it is with most people my age who grew up in the Lehigh Valley, at least in the 'burbs.
But there's hope. Not for me, but our kids.
Just the other day, another bigot on this blog derided President Obama as our "dark hero." There are kids like my grandson who grew up seeing a black (well, half black) man in a suit everyday on television, talking about important things. Regardless what you think of him, and I don't think much of him myself, the children who have grown up watching him are not buying into the prejudice that has permanently infected me.
So though we are racially divided and there are still confrontations, I am very hopeful for our future. I see it in our children.
They are better than we are.