Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being Called a Racist

When I was teaching in an urban high school in Dallas most of my students were of "color." Now I don't mind people being proud of their rich heritages at all. I think that we should all be proud of who we are and where we come from. I just don't think that being white, black, or hispanic defines us as people. There are so many more things about being us than meets the eye.

This presidential campaign isn't the first time that I have been accused of being racist. When I was teaching and a student didn't do their homework and I gave them a zero I was called racist. I was accused of failing them based on their color. It didn't seem to dawn on the student that not doing their work or having anything to grade might have affected their grade. Nope. It was all on me for not passing them for doing nothing. It also didn't matter that other students in the class, of the same color, were passing. They actually did their work. To this particular student the only reason that I should pass them was so that I wouldn't suffer under the pressure of being name called. It didn't work. I know who I am.

This presidential campaign I dared compare Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I was called a racist. Nothing I said indicated race. I simply stated that both men were rich, both had gone to law school, and other similarities between them. Romney was being chastised for all the same things Obama was, but for some reason it seemed okay for Obama to be that way and not the other guy. Evidently pointing that out made me racist. I don't buy it.

When I meet people I don't look at their color first. I don't ask them what religion they are affiliated with. I don't check out their bank accounts or worry about how they feel about abortion or gay marriage. Those things may come out in time, but for me it's not what matters. What matters is the person themselves. How they present themselves. How they interact with me and my family. If we click on other things. Honestly I'm not looking to clone myself to make friends. It's great if someone's opinions differ from my own as long as they are respectful of how I feel too.

Do I have friends that are of a different race than myself? Yes, I do. Do I have friends that are gay? Yes, I do. Do I have friends that are Mormon, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or Pagan? I absolutely do. They aren't my friends because of or in spite of these things. These are just part of who they are, and I guess in turn, part of what makes them special. But I don't define them on their race, religion, or lifestyle. They are my friends because personally we clicked and our personalities complimented each other. We support, respect, and love each other.

On the outside I may look a certain way to people, and people may make judgements about me when they first see me. That's okay. Some people do that. I know that there is a lot more to people than what they wear on the outside. By putting people in categories we are severely limiting our own lives and understanding of what this world has to offer. It's one thing to acknowledge that each person is different, but when you identify them simply by the color of their skin or their religion you do them a great disservice.

Besides, there is a lot more to a person than meets the eye. The only way to find out is to actually take the time to get to know them. But, just because I didn't vote for Obama on election day doesn't make me a racist. I didn't vote for him because of his policies and political stance on the economy. If I had only voted for him because he was African American then I would have been doing him a great wrong, because I'm sure that he is much more than just the first Black President in the White House. And just because I don't agree with his stance on issues such as Health Care or Economic Recovery doesn't mean that I am going to start name calling or bashing people because they like his ideas. I respect their right to their opinions differing from my own.

This country was founded on diversity. Each day I recognize and celebrate that. One day, when people stop labeling and start accepting, we may even get past the days where we look at color and start appreciating character. That is the future I hope for my children and grandchildren.

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