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Discrimination
       I had the good fortune of growing up in a melting pot. My extended family is a combination of varied nationalities and races, as are the friends of several generations of the family. The first girl I took to a dance was black, as is my nephew, who just graduated from high school. My children grew up accepting each person as an individual, and in my many years of teaching, I judged each student on their effort and performance, rather than on external factors. That, in itself, does not, however, absolve me form the existing problem.
       The school I attended was small and ntegrated and, while I saw conflicts in the media, we were fortunate that we did not experience it directly. I actually became more aware of the social issues when I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was published when I was a sophomore. I was moved by the message in his final chapter, on pages 376-377:
       …when [white people] present themselves as being sincere, and ask me, one way or another…”What can a sincere white person do?”…the first thing I tell them is that at least where my own particular Black Nationalist organization…is concerned, they can’t join us. I have these very deep feelings that white people who want to join black organizations are really just taking the escapist way to salve their consciences….The Negroes aren’t the racists. Where the really sincere white people have to do their “proving” of themselves is not among the black victims, but out on the battle lines of where America’s racism really is – and that’s in their own home communities; America’s racism is among their own fellow whites. That’s where the sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work.
       …I tell sincere white people, “Work in conjunction with us – each of us working among our own kind.” Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do – and let them form their own all-white groups, to work trying to convert other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach nonviolence to white people.
       …Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together.
       In 1970, in an article title “Racism in White America,” Whitney M. Young, Jr., stated that “Racism…is the assumption of superiority and the arrogance that goes with it. It also takes another, equally condescending form: putting up with outrageous behavior from a black man simply because he is black….a subtle kind of racism…for their implicit assumption was that the blacks had to be humored and pacified; that no outrage was too great not to be accepted from the poor, oppressed blacks.” Martin Luther King, Jr., had similarly responded to another person’s comment by noting “In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. Isn’t this like condemning the robbed man because his possessions of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?”
       Unfortunately, racism is deeply ingrained in American society. In 1974, author Isaac Asimov was referring back to 1935 when he said “Those were the days when racial quotas were as American as apple pie.” In 1940, during World War II, Ruth Benedict noted in her book Race: Science and Politics that “…racism is an ism to which everyone in the world is exposed; for or against, we must take sides. And the history of the future will differ according to the decision which we make.”
       In the June 1976 issue of Technology Review, Rev. John Crocker pointed out: “Some people begin to claim superiority over other people. The dominant ones employ the sciences to support their claims by measurements which say that the dominant ones are superior. (Every kind of educational and psychological testing…demonstrates this assertion.)” More recently, in How to Be an Antiracist, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi made a clear statement on this issue: “I define an antiracist as someone who is expressing an antiracist idea or supporting an antiracist policy with their actions, and I define an antiracist idea as any idea that says the racial groups are equal.”
       Our current President and too many other politicians are clearly racist, sexist and bigoted. They are in power because a large portion of our population suffer the same problems. As Robert A. Heinlein noted in Revolt in 2100: “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” This is a condition that should not be accepted. We are suffering from an egotist who lacks leadership abilities and who is inflaming problems that we should instead be working on removing. And that is the important point – it will only change if we work at seeing it occur!
       Robert A. Heinlein is one of my favorite authors, and I would like to close by quoting him again. He addressed this issue beck in 1958 in Methuselah’s Children: “When discrimination was removed, the problem solved itself and cultural assimilation took place.”
      
      
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