This is a repost from my MySpace Blog circa a long time ago!
Being a southern gal, I have been unfairly accused all too often by those who are ignorant, of being racist just because of my geographical location and heritage. This is actually hilarious given the fact that I have often found myself more comfortable in the company of those of a different race or culture. I have grown immensely due to my exposure to the fascinating cultures and customs of those whose skin just happens to differ from the color of my own. And this is thanks to my extremely southern parents who taught me that everyone has value no matter what their skin color, religious preference, or sexual proclivites.
My father, who once marched for civil rights before Martin Luther King began preaching, and my mother, whose best friend in high school was gay, taught me to appreciate the differences and learn from them, in a very subtle way. They taught by example. I cannot remember a time when our home was not open to all races and cultures. My parent’s home is now filled with a lifetime of wonderful mementos of the fabulous relationships shared with people from all over the world. Buried in a drawer somewhere, my mother has a wonderful Lebanese shawl decorated with gold threads, castanets from my sister’s Hispanic Godmother, fabric handwoven in Guatemala….the list goes on and on. More importantly, our lives have been enriched by the many different experiences we have shared just by opening up our hearts.
My parents never had to tell me not to use the ‘n’ word. I did not even know the words existed until I was in middle school and even then did not understand the significance. All because my parents taught me to love.
But, I did grow up and as a result came into contact with those who were not as fortunate as I. I have lived all over the USA and sadly have seen racial hatred everywhere, the worst of which is not in the American South as some would have you believe. And I have come to the conclusion that the basis of this hatred is fear. Fear of the unknown; fear of that which is different; fear of change.
The problem is that of our anthropological heritage. In order to survive the dangers of nature, the fragile early man learned to mistrust that which was different and that which would change his environment. This instinct strengthened over the generations as mankind found himself faced with various marauding neighboring tribes who had not yet learned to be politically correct. To trust the outsider was to allow potential danger into the clan. It was one thing to put one’s self at risk; but, quite another to put your entire family and sometimes even your entire clan at risk. And, nature being nature, she reinforced this fear generation after generation by killing off those who were less fearful of the the stranger. Less fearful of that which was new or different.
Skip ahead thousands of years and now we find ourselves with this ingrained distrust of those who might bring change into our lives. Is it logical for our times? No. But, it is bred into us and is something that must be gradually overcome. Just in my lifetime, I have seen great strides made in cross-cultural relations and I take hope in the fact that at least most people are aware of the problem. Baby steps… That is what we need to take…
Now I am going to say something which will probably blow your mind, if not enrage some of you. Do me a favor though and read the entire blog before sending out the lynch mob. Really.
We should not practice racial tolerance. What did she say? I will repeat it again… We should not practice racial tolerance! “That woman has totally gone off her rocker! Why would she say such a thing? Hasn’t she just spent half a blog arguing against racism?” Yes. And I still am arguing against racism. But, let’s talk a minute about the phrase “racial tolerance” or more specifically the word ‘tolerance’.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word ‘tolerance’ is defined as:
1: capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b: the act of allowing something : toleration
3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4 a (1): the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2): relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor b: the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food
Hmmm… So we are supposed to treat those who are of a different race as though they are something to be put up with? Something which must be endured similar to my chronic pain? I tolerate the income tax; however, I loathe it and would vote to annihilate it in a heartbeat. So, do I tolerate those who happen to possess a different color of skin? NO! And neither should you.
The word ‘tolerance’ predisposes us to believe that we are somehow better than those who are different from us. That those who are different must be in some way inferior just because they do not share our way of life, our spirituality, our skin color. WRONG! If we are going to learn how to love our fellow man, we must first get over the idea that we are the best, the smartest, the most spiritual, the most developed. We must open our hearts and open our minds, learning from those whose ideas differ from ours. The only way to end the hatred is to stop paying homage to the idea of “racial tolerance” and start practicing love. Don’t be afraid.