Can Racism Be Outgrown?

June 30, 2013

Bigotry isn’t inborn; it’s taught.

There are many factors that contribute to it, but, essentially, it’s an attitude that one grows into starting with your family, and then your peers, your employers, and your life experiences.

We can start with the conversations that take place in your home. Long before you develop your own thinking styles and your own opinions, you are like a sponge, absorbing the words and attitudes of the family members around you.

The first time I encountered racism was when I lived in the south for a few months. Blacks were not allowed on airplanes and, if they did have to fly to take care of white children, they had to sit on the uncomfortable jump seat in the cockpit because they weren’t allowed to sit with the passengers.

The next time I encountered it was going into public places. They were not allowed to use the rest rooms designated for white people. Every public building had signs on the outside that said Colored and White and no one dared to cross that line.

It was unheard of for blacks to sit at a restaurant counter and be waited on by white waitstaff. That didn’t happen until many decades later. And, of course, there were signs outside of hotels that said “No Negroes and no Jews.”

As if these indignities weren’t bad enough, the south was known for its lynchings, especially by the Ku Klux Klan. It was also known for its Jim Crow laws preventing blacks from voting.

As an adult, many years later, I remember talking to a southerner shortly after the Jim Crow laws were repealed and I was shocked by the casual way she said that the Jim Crow laws should never have been repealed and then she went on to talk about something else.

Segregation was a blight on our nation. I once heard a black woman telling someone that America had two Constitutions; they had the first one for white people and they had to make another Constitution for blacks. And that about summed it up.

It was an ignominious crime against nature and against all human digity and, whenever I hear these narrow-minded slurs, it makes my flesh crawl because I know that these prejudices had to be learned.

It also goes against every religion in the world to discriminate against people whose skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual preferences are different from yours. These intolerances are learned; they not inborn and they disgrace the people who espouse them.

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