A while back, a couple of my Little Rock twitter friends wrote about race after reading a startling statistic about Arkansas. I wasn’t as surprised as I should have been. See, in what will be the ultimate cliche of all time, my friend who died a couple of months ago, Angela, was black.
There’s a picture of her at her daughter Alexis’s birthday in 2007. Crap, I can’t believe that was almost three years ago. Even more crap, I can’t believe my friend is dead. Well I’ve known . . . knew Angela since we were in kindergarten and we became good friends in high school. That’s a lot of years.
She wasn’t my only ethnic minority friend. I’m not even sure how many I have. I have enough that I would have to think about it to actually give a number. My first boyfriend’s parents came here from India and he was first generation. I’m not quite sure how I got to be so comfortable around different races other than to say that my single Aunt had a Laverne and Shirley type roommate situation with this black lady named Debra when I was growing up. Actually Debra is back at my Aunt’s house but apparently sometime during the late 80s, early 90s, Debra got married and moved out. Maybe I’m just easy going. I don’t know. I know for high school purposes most of the other white kids in my smart kid classes were also members of the country club and that added an interesting little twist to the whole small town social seven circles of hell known as high school cliques.
I do know that racism is alive and well. I saw what happened to my friend when she was in the running to be valedictorian. It was ugly and obvious. Ethnic students are given lower grades by white teachers, even if it is the exact same paper as the experiment in the link did. That study has been replicated so many times. I’ve heard all of the statistics about black people going to jail more than whites.
I’ve also seen what it does to individual people. I’ve seen the unfairness. I’ve seen how it slowly sinks in and how some people become bitter. some people become sad and yet others just quit trying altogether.
I don’t quite understand it. It’s something that should be so easy and yet it seems so hard. If you don’t know somebody, you don’t know somebody and assuming things about someone you don’t know is stupid. Why be mean to people you don’t know? Why go around assuming someone is lazy or stupid or anything because of their appearance? Putting other people down as a means to feel better about yourself is desperate and sad.
I wish I had some deep meaning prose that would inspire but I don’t. Others have done it better in other venues. People just want to be liked and appreciated. They want to be loved for who they are deep down underneath all the bullshit.