Watermelon and Crackers.
What comes to mind when these words are put together? Two delicious snacks or two words that are commonly used as negative references to African Americans and Caucasians? Depending on your family setting, background, and race you more than likely chose the latter description. The current year is 2013 but there are times where I think our society still subscribes to a mentality that promotes prejudice and racism. Everywhere you look - TV, movies, magazines, news stories, etc., there are offensive and stereotype driven images and stories that validate my point.
But to be honest with you, I don't even care about that. Racism is still out there and probably will be for a long time to come. What bothers me the most is the fact that the vast majority of people try to force themselves to believe that it doesn't exist anymore. Personally, I try not to allow skin color to dictate the way that I interact with others. I'm not the biggest fan of people in general, so I treat everyone pretty much the same.
But, what exactly is racism?
Is it only when there's a blatant act of disrespect? Nope. Calling a black person a nigger or a white person a cracker is not the only way to be a racist or display prejudice towards another race. I'm
African American black (I've only been to Africa once), but there are a few things that personally make my skin burn. When I enter a store and get followed by the people working there because they thinking I'm going to steal, just because I'm black - racist. When I walk down the sidewalk at dusk and the woman coming towards me crosses to the other side of the street or clutches her purse a little tighter and avoids eye contact - racist. When I'm with a group of people and they switch their music from dubstep or electronic to rap simply because they believe that will make me feel more comfortable - racist.
As a culture, we are taught to believe that racism is bad. But on the other hand, we are also preconditioned to subconsciously promote racism and keep it alive. The media is probably one of the worst perpetrators in my opinion because the shows and news stories that portray the most negative and stereotypical sides of our society are the ones that get the absolute most airplay. That type of content is like a poison that finds its way into the back of our minds and presents itself when we least expect it, whether we mean for it to or not.
This is why I don't even blame people for the way that they act. I went to a predominately white college and I now work in a field that is dominated by people that still don't look like me. I can't say that I've seen it all when it comes to racism, but I've certainly seen my fair share. The worst part of it all is that I am at a point where I've become desensitized to most of it. I believe that there are more than a few people that feel the same way, but this only adds to the problem. We live in an "it's okay" generation and that just gives people more and more opportunities to get away with things that would have been unacceptable in the years prior. People of all colors say "nigger" now a days and everyone reassures that it's really not that big of a deal.
Using a word that carries a historically sinister and derogatory meaning is pretty much a big deal in every culture but ours. I will never understand how that same word was adopted and transformed into a term of endearment...but that is a conversation I'll save for another day. I digress, it's a bad word - shame on us all for using it.
My last gripe with our current societal mindset is that slavery never happened. Well, I know that it did happen, but the memory of it has been pushed aside and swept under the rug so much that it would be taboo to remind anyone that black people ever received any sort of foul treatment. Not that I would ever remind anyone of that fact because I'd just be swiping the race card, which I'm sure has already expired by now.
What do you think? Are we completely desensitized as a culture and add fuel to the fire by our own incapability to acknowledge what is right from wrong? Or do some people just get bent out of shape and use every opportunity to claim racism and foul treatment?
I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!