Racism. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. In this week’s reading of The Classic Slave Narratives by Fredrick Douglass, we witness his achievements as well as his many tussles with the social construct of his time. As a class we critically analyzed his passion and his utterly great ambition to break the chains of the social norm which was slavery. He fought tooth and nail for himself and for those who were in or once in his situation as being a former slave. He fought for men and women so that they will no longer be looked as if they were less than livestock, so that they will no longer witness their family and friends hanging from the limbs of trees, and ultimately for the life and pursuit of happiness we all and equally deserve. That ambition and drive from Douglass motivated and touched me significantly.
Fredrick Douglass then states, “America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.” Which leads me to ask this question. Do you believe racism still exists? Have you personally experienced a time where you felt that simply based off the color of your skin, you were either inferior or superior to another race? Now, do not feel compelled to share if you choose not to, however I ask the question if you believe racism still exists because I have encountered many people who believe that racism does not exist in our time and age. I found their points to be quite ridiculous at first, but then I thought, perhaps they have not personally been in a situation where they were seen as inferior to another. Which is hard for me to understand, however, I can attempt to see their point.
My parents are from a Third World Country. They both traveled to the US at a very young age, eager for these promised opportunities with hopes of attaining them. My mother is currently a barber and my father is a tile setter. They are two of the hardest workers I know and will do all that they can to provide for us. However, it hurts me when I see my parents being judged based off the color of their skin when all they desire is opportunities and happiness just like you and I. I will never forget the day when my mother returned home from work in tears because a customer judged her and told her insulting names just because she is a Hispanic women. I was livid that somebody would have the audacity to do that to her. My parents are much darker than I am, and others often assume that I am Caucasian. So I witness the injustice occurring to my parents while I am sometimes given a “pass” because of my light complexion. There was a time when I was driving my Jeep on the 60 a couple of years ago. I was young and like most typical high-schoolers, obeying the speed limit was never considered. I was driving so fast that if I was to be pulled over, I would’ve received a ticket for speeding at a criminal speed. A police SUV speed up right next to me, caught a glimpse of me and drove off as if it was no big deal. I just felt the need to ask if I was any darker, would I have gotten the same pass as well.
I wonder, if Fredrick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, and all of those inspiring people who have passed away saw our times now, what would they have to say? They all had a dream, and a future of America being united as one and equally represented. I just want to end with this Ted Talk by Francys Johnson called Race is a fiction, Racism is not. It is 18 minutes long so be warned, but I personally think it’s worth listening to. It just amazes me how much of our lives is determined by the amount of pigmentation in our skin.