posted on Oct, 5 2009 @ 03:10 PM
I spent my young years on the South side of San Antonio. Most of you may know that San Antonio, Texas is a fairly diverse City with many ethnic groups
represented and a very large Hispanic population. It is highly populated and has all of the negative attributes of a City it's size.
My father was terribly racist and these ideals were handed down like some sort of badge for membership in a special club. Some of the earliest words I
can remember were racial slurs. My whole family was 'ate up' with it. Much like gossip, or picking on the nerds, racial bias and insults were
encouraged among the 'white folk' I knew, provided none of them 'other colors' were around. One of my uncles was in the KKK. When I think back
today, I'm astounded by the hate that existed in my family for anyone that didn't possess the same skin pigment or culture.
I'm an old man now and still plagued by remnants of this past. I've been throughout our country and down to Mexico a few times and have met all
types of people. I've served in the military, have held jobs, partied...all with people of varying cultures.
I've spoken out AGAINST racism and all along have harbored my own misunderstandings and bias. To this day, irrational ideas, bigotry, unwarranted
fear and a predisposition towards association with those my own 'kind' persist. I struggle to deny it, struggle to change it, struggle to understand
it, but it exists. As sure as it is ME typing these words, there exists in my mind race-based bias.
I find it irrational and crippling. When I see a person of a different color, or hear someone speaking a different language, my mind goes through
milliseconds that seem like hours, of internal debate, rationalization and judgement. It pains me because I KNOW better. I KNOW that skin color has
absolutely nothing to do with anything. I KNOW that I am not to judge by appearance. I know that people of all different races and cultures have
contributed to making this world the marvel, and abomination it is today, but yet the silent, internal judgement continues.
The thing that is most difficult for me to understand is that there are some people who seem to not be affected in the least by another person's
race. They SEEM that way, anyway. I know there are many that will argue that race has no bearing on the content of a person's character and I will
argue that myself, but all the while, the nagging uneasiness pokes at my consciousness, like an acid jet though a pinhole and I am no closer now, in
my advanced years, than I was as a child in finding the way to plug the hole, or neutralize the acid.
I learned to speak Spanish fairly well, for a white guy, because I had some Hispanic friends that helped me. I partied in a field within a stones
throw of the Rio Grande with a Hispanic Sheriff. I've had black Muslim friends. I've had black friends with whom the N word was regularly exchanged,
but we would have fought for each other.
I live out in the middle of nowhere now, in Kansas. The old people around here still have fresh in their minds the segregation of the Hispanics in the
60's and 70's much like the Blacks suffered in the far South earlier on. Bigotry is not something that is encouraged in public, lest you get a good
beating, but behind closed doors it will often rear it's ugly head.
ATS has taken me further in my desire to change myself than I would have ever imagined a silly place like this could. I know that there are some very
enlightened people here and that you will have some insight for me.
I could go on pretending that I am unaffected by bias, or I can admit it, accept it, and move towards changing it. I choose the latter. I don't feel
like a bad person. I don't feel full of hate, I just don't know how to address the irrational feelings I have that hinge on someone's physical
appearance. I don't know if what I experience is normal and that others who SEEM unaffected have just learned to deny it within themselves, or if
there are people in the world that are truly unaffected by racial and cultural differences and I am some sort of throwback, or dead end on the road of
I'm not really after insults, though I know some of you may feel that is warranted. What I'm really hoping is that some of you that are more open
with your compassion and love for your fellow man can give us an idea of how you do it. Is it too late for me? Can bias be unlearned?
In other circles, I have heard the terms 'act as if' and 'fake it till you make it.' I'm tired of acting and I'm tired of faking.
Tell me, how does one so affected move beyond the external? How does a person not judge by appearance? How does a person elevate others, or lower his
opinion of himself, so that all of mankind is equal? Where is it that I should be looking? How is it that I eliminate this specter completely from my
subconscious? How is it that I can be free?
Your input is eagerly anticipated. Thanks for taking the time to read.