Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Racists: Get over yourself. Sincerely, Misty

I grew up listening to my grandparents chat about how annoying it was to have to listen to people "jabbering" in Spanish at neighboring tables in restaurants. They felt that English should be made the national language. They used to encourage me to learn Spanish so that the bilingual children of Mexican immigrants couldn't "steal" jobs from me.

My mother refused to take a very good job in another part of the country because she found out that there were a high percentage of minorities living there. When asked about other important factors (median income, property values, cost of living, etc) she couldn't answer. When she found out there were a high percentage of minorities, she stopped looking.

When I moved into my first apartment, it was in a neighborhood where many African Americans lived. My grandfather came to visit and we ate at the nearby Chicken Express. When he noticed that we were the only white people there, he made a loud joke about black people and chicken and horrified everyone in the restaurant except one little old man who apparently had a great sense of humor about it. I wish I'd had a chance to stop and get to know that little old man.

When I went to college, I had to choose between copying the behavior that my elders had modeled for me and thinking for myself, and I'm so glad that I chose the latter. (Even if it may have occasionally upset the family whose values I rejected.) I have come to know so many amazing people that I would never have met if I had continued in my family's tradition.

I'm sure that I have said things that were offensive out of pure ignorance. I'm so glad and thankful that I have friends who were patient and gave me time to learn the things that my family neglected to teach me. On behalf of all the children of racist parents out there, I regret that you had to take on the burden of educating us, but I'm so glad that you did. Thank you!

Racism is not hereditary. The fact that people were "raised that way" is no longer an excuse.

It's time to wake up and move into the 21st century.

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