As I was walking to our local convenience store late last night, a car drove by and the person inside shouted what I swear was the word Nigger towards me. Now I am far from African American, so this actually stunned me. There were also no other people around, so I knew the hateful word was not addressed to someone else. After I got past my sudden reaction, I became very angry. I have not heard that word in a very long time, nor do I want to hear it again. I am not racist and I will never be.
It did occur to me however that even though many people I actually know may not say the word allowed, they are still racist in some sense. I remember when I was in high school, a friend of mine who is African American, asked if she could get a ride home with me. I knew she lived on the other side of town and it was pouring down rain. Not thinking it would be a problem with my father we walked to the car and I mentioned to my father that my friend needed a ride home. The look on his face was not a pleasant experience and I remember him shaking his head in anger as he told me no and to get in the car.
I was embarrassed and I remember turning to my friend and apologizing. I stayed silent all the way home, but the very next day when I saw my friend at school, I was reminded of yesterday's events. My friend asked if my father was racist. I had no excuse for him, but I did apologize to my friend for his behavior. It still bothers me to this day.
About a year ago my father-in-law's girlfriend and I were walking past an apartment complex that was not far from where we lived at the time. I noticed her picking up her pace and then she said, that's where the black people live. I don't remember what she said after that, but I remember her being very negative about the families that lived there. It really bothered me and I defended them. I thought my defending them would end the conversation. It did for the rest of that day, but I remember another day at home after that when she mentioned, "them black people" again.
Instead of my usual defense, I took another approach and put her and everyone in the room in shock. I simply told her that I have African American family members. I never bothered to tell her they were related by marriage, but it did not matter to me. She quickly stopped her remarks and I never heard another racist word from her again.
It isn't just African Americans that I hear racist remarks against. Not too long ago I was out with in-laws when the word wet back was used in conversation. I cringed and brought up the fact that I have friends who are of Hispanic Heritage. I also pointed this out to my husband who hadn't spoken up. I brought it up again later, not appreciative of the remarks. I know for a fact that he has friends who are also Hispanic, so I'm not sure why he didn't say so during the conversation. All he could say to me was, "I know." Now if someone had uttered a racist word against my in-laws Native American Heritage, they'd be all over that person.
It also bothers me that we judge others for things that have happened in the past because of our ancestors. Those today cannot change what our ancestors have done to one another in the past. Yes, we can apologize but sometimes I wonder if this is even enough.
I wonder if this world will ever change their hate for one another. I wonder if someday we can just live for the present, for the future and stop living for the past. Teach our children to respect one another. Not to Hate, but to Stop the hatred. To Change The Future and make this world a better place.