As I write this, I reflect on my life so far… To summarize it for now, I was born to immigrant parents who worked hard to provide a stable environment and give us opportunities to be independent and “live the American dream.” I know my wife was raised in a similar household and this has affected how we raised our own children. And how we view the world around us. It can’t be helped, right? We should all work hard, pay our dues, respect God and authority, do what’s right, and reap the rewards. Sure, there are those who are less fortunate, but if they would just go to school, get a job, quit being so dependent on society, then everything would improve for them as it has for us.
I know this is way too simplistic, both for my story as well as for other groups, but it is these caricatures or soundbites that we remember or regress to. Especially when introduced to or confronted by something different than our known narratives. This storyline is familiar to many, but not all, white people here in the U.S. People of color have narratives too, depending on what ethnic or racial background a person comes from, as well as other factors.
These factors are important because the challenges and dynamics of racism we face are not just about the color of our skin. These challenges are about equal access to education, vocational training, health care, changing long-established systemic ways of thinking and judging ourselves and others, and how to find forums for all of us to accept both our differences and value the commonalities—fighting against what is wrong and for what is right. We are all different and we are all similar, no matter what our skin color is, and those facts need to be acknowledged and appreciated. Let’s respect each other by listening to each other’s voices without judgment or recrimination, let’s respect each other in the process, and let’s try to find common good goals to work toward.
What might those common good goals be?