Since Obama was elected I’ve been hearing tales of the end of racism. I really wish that were true, but one election did not fix this country. While it’s not as acceptable, racism still exists. Today’s MomGrind post struck this old chord with me this morning. Vered writes about her first time experiencing blatant racism. While dining with her family in a restaurant in California just weeks ago, the server uttered, “It’s the little Jews that get the most upset.”
This is unforgivable and it pains me that Israeli-transplant, Vered, had to endure this indignity in America. I also can’t help but wonder what it’s like to spend the majority of one’s life without knowing racism. For black people, the stigma is a frequent public companion. I’m certainly not one to debate who has suffered the most – Jewish or black people. Those kinds of debates ignore the fact that hatred is hatred is hatred.
My dark skin color usually keeps most moronic idiots away now that racism has gone out of fashion. Unlike the assumption that a Jewish person is Christian (and also feeble-minded enough to want to hear ignorant comments), bigots never mistake me as one of them. I am generally spared the blatant racism of strangers. Subtle discrimination is still quite prevalent though. It is found in the retail worker who follows me around the store, the host who attempts to seat my family at the worst table of an empty restaurant, and in the car salesman who ignores me until my white husband appears (or is that sexism?).
That said, I shouldn’t make it seem as though black people only suffer the “small indignities” of racism at this point. Blatant racism is still alive and can be found in the most unexpected places. From the little old Puerto Rican woman who told me I was “one of the good blacks,” to my black, former boss who rejected a black, dreadlocked candidate for being “too ethnic,” racism is kicking its way into the 21st century.
Vered, I’m so sorry your family had to endure such ugliness. And, I applaud you for speaking up about it. Racism is demeaning. We retain our power by talking about it and letting those who have grown complacent realize that the danger still exists. No matter which group we belong to, we need to be vigilant about teaching our children that everyone is born equal. Skin color, religion, sexual orientation, culture, disabilities, and other characteristics beyond our control are not factors by which to judge each other.
It is heartening to know that my son will never wonder if a black person can be elected President of the U.S. the way that I did as a child. It may be alive today, but perhaps our grandchildren will have to read about racism to understand it.