When I started school, almost 70 years ago, I remember my mother taking me aside and explaining, somewhat nervously, that I was going to be meeting a lot of new kids, and that some of them wouldn’t like me because of my skin color.
She went on to tell me that God had made me, and God didn’t make mistakes, so if I ever ran into those kids, not to worry, it was their ignorance that was the problem, not me.
She also told me that if I started to worry about any unkind remarks I might hear, then I would be giving them “power” over me, and my best course was to ignore them. She ended by counseling me to just study hard, be honest and not afraid to follow my interests, and I would find plenty of friends.
This was a lot for a 6-year-old to digest. Suddenly worried, I went into the bathroom to look in the mirror. The face I saw reflected was a nice rich brown color, nothing special, but nothing too terrible, either – what was not to like?
Time after time in the last 70 years I have met with racism, sour looks, catty remarks, even job discrimination. So what? Racism and discrimination are global in one form or another, always have been – it’s tribalism writ large and not confined to any group.
But experience has taught me the truth of Mom’s advice: Study and work hard, be honest, goal oriented, and friendly. Those qualities will see you through. Maybe one more: Don’t blame others for your mistakes or bad attitude.
The thing that struck me about Joshua Heath’s column “Here’s what white people don’t know” published Wednesday in The Signal is how racist and condescending it was – unintentionally, of course.
Mr. Heath, I’m sure, has the best intentions with his explanations of the disparity between the races, but he puts the oneness of African-American under achievement (as he explains it) on the hostile attitudes of white people – and that’s the racist and condescending part.
He seems to be saying (as a lot of progressives do), that African-Americans just can’t get ahead without whites allowing them to. He also seems to believe that being critical of any behavior of African-Americans is tantamount to blaming the victim.
This built-in excuse effectively inoculates the black community from any criticism or personal responsibility. After all, in his scenario, blacks simply don’t have the ability to help themselves.
I believe that it’s just this attitude that has retarded race relations and fostered the racial divide today, as well as perpetuating most failings in the black community by offering a racist excuse to fail.
Richard La Motte is a Valencia resident.