Life in the South is different from life in the North. I have lived in Arkansas and Tennessee all of my 32 years. I have heard many negatives expressed about African-Americans. My father uses the “n” word regularly. My mom says she isn’t racist, but told me she was relieved when I married a white man because children of mixed racial marriages have a difficult time, much like this Louisiana judge believes.
I am a product of St Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. For 16 years, I was treated at this hospital. I saw people of all races together working on a common cause. Though I saw color, I did not think of it as being anything different from the shape of different noses, the height of people, or other physical characteristics. Had I not been exposed to the varying ethnicities at this hospital, I do not know what I would have thought of those who were of a different race. I attended two schools before I graduated high school. One of these schools had an average of 300 students with just three of these students African-American. The high school I graduated from was open from 1930 until 2002 and never had a black student attend more than 2 days. They lived in the area but chose to go to other schools due to harassment. One black youth was told not to return to a school dance because the person was a member of the KKK and “we don’t want your kind around here.”
Vaguely I understood why these students were racist. There is not a large population of blacks in our county. What has happened is much like the situation was prior to the 1960’s. Whites and blacks are not integrated. Sure, we share the same schools and water fountains but with no exposure to other races what we learn is the attitude of our parents and grandparents. We do not have the exposure to show those beliefs as the ignorance they are.
Where did the battle between white and black Americans begin? I believe black resentment began when they were taken from their home country and forced to be treated like farm animals in slavery. I believe the white resentment began when the Civil War ended and blacks competed with poor white people for jobs. Blacks, who were previously treated like and possibly even believed to be animals were doing the same work as whites. It was a pride factor!
With little to no population of blacks where I live, it is no surprise racism remain in southern states.. Are we heading against those old ideas? I did not realize our town’s school were not integrated until well after my father graduated in 1963. My assumption was that it occurred the same year as the Central High School situation in Little Rock, Arkansas. When I ask my 63 year old father about relationships between the races during that time period he said, “it simply did not exist. They went to a different school. We never saw them” All of these except for attending a different school can apply as much in 2009 as it did in 1959.
Racism is learned. My then-four-year-old nephew once went up to a man in a mall in Little Rock and said, “Look Daddy, a n—–!” My son did the same but he said, “Mommy that little boy has a brown face!” I took the opportunity to tell him people come in all colors, people are short or tall, big or small, etc. God made us all.
The judge in Louisiana is outside of his duties in not conducting interracial marriages. He is entitled to his opinion but if it goes against the duties of his job then he should quit. It would be an amazing world if we could all blend into one race and forget about the pains of the past. Then again, the world would be more boring. I was one of those who did not realize racism was an issue any more until reading this article. My eyes have been opened.