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Dreaming of a world with less ignorance and more tolerance

I have asked questions all my life. I was never satisfied with a simple answer. I didn’t want just the details. Details were just small pieces of information that may or may not connect. I wanted and want to see the whole picture.

Something I learned early was that people talk about other people as if they aren’t even people. Something some of you may know about me by now is that I’m sensitive. If I see someone yelling or hear raw words of hate, it upsets me deeply. I can’t just look away or forget about it. I keep turning it over and over in my head. It eats at me.

Why are people so full of hate? Why do they let hate make them blind? Why do they continue to walk around in life in ignorance? Why don’t they want to see the WHOLE picture instead of the little safe one that they wrap around themselves?

People trip over words full of hate and disgust without even seeing the ugliness left laying at their own feet. They drown themselves and anyone willing to listen in ignorance.

One of the first questions I remember asking myself was…”Why are black people different from white people? Are they different? Does it matter if they are? Why is that a bad thing?” I really wanted to know.

If you want to know if African-Americans are or are not different and why read this. Read all of it. I read it and was surprised by some things. Like why people would have paid a “voting tax” in the early 60’s? Why aren’t there more African-American leaders in politics? Why are there statistically higher numbers of African-American men in prison? The list goes on.

I didn’t find out if African-Americans are different from me by reading the information in the link I provided above.  I already knew and know that people. are. people.  Period.  We are all alike more than we are different.  I can open my eyes and see that.
Low social and economic opportunities keep many people from getting out of the gettos they were put in. These people make a life from what they can with no real help from others or the US government. They have no hopes or dreams. They have the cruel and cold reality pushing against them with every breath they take.

You can’t just expect people who are discriminated against by a whole society to just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Yes, some do. True. However, let me ask you if you would be able to do it if you were judged by the colour of your skin every single day. What if you were born and raised in urban America with poor educational opportunities and no money?

What if you were poor, really poor, and no one cared, really cared?

The American society as a whole doesn’t do a heck of a lot to change the social and economic problems that face many Americans (mostly minorities). America has been letting her children, her future, down in the most unforgivable way. America has taken all the hope out of the lives of many of her children. Without hope what life is there?

I am very proud of the people in America that have broken free from the chains of hate and poverty to build a better life for themselves and others. I am equally proud of the people that make it through each day filled with guns and drugs and hate without giving up or giving in. I understand and feel responsible when other less strong or fortunate people fall through the cracks. It’s my problem, too.

I am not proud of the people that don’t see the problem as their own. I am not proud of the Americans that let other Americans live out of cars or in drug infested neighborhoods.

I am not proud of Americans that think everyone should be just like them.

I am not proud of people who can’t see that the ghost of slavery is still darkening American doors. I am not proud of that little piece of American history.

As an American, I would like to hear how it is that the richest country on earth shrugs it’s shoulders on thousands and thousands of children growing up in the poorest of conditions. I would like you to tell me and these children how it is that you are going to help make it better. How it is that you are going to break this cycle of poverty and hate. How?

It’s not by making ignorant racist comments or turning your back to it, that’s for sure.

It’s an American problem. All of America is responsible to fix it. Isn’t it time to stop spreading hatred and ignorance and to work together to build an America where all men are created equal (not just in theory) by tearing down the walls of poverty and building new strong bridges of understanding and tolerance?

I dare you to read this (same as link above) with an open mind and demand real answers to real questions. If you think America isn’t responsible for the poverty and social issues of African-Americans today, you really are blind.

I am proud of all the African-Americans that help make my country diverse and strong. I love that America is full of people from all backgrounds. I love that these people don’t just melt into one kind of boring pot. I love the diversity of music, food and fashion (just to name a few) in America. I love that Americans tend to hang onto their roots and not just assimilate into the main stream. Isn’t that what makes America so unique and great?

Well, I think so.

I love America.

That is why I get so upset and saddened that even today, in the year 2006, I have stumbled upon the words, “stupid f-ing nigger”.

Please, pass this person some “whole picture” glasses because the one’s they’re wearing are a bit foggy. I wouldn’t want them to drown in their own ignorance.

I’ll take my dream over ugly words, lies and excuses any ol’ day.

People. are. people.

Just think about it!

********

To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant. – Amos Bronson Alcott
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. – Will Durant

To read more quotes click here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pumpkin May 25, 2006, 9:06 am

    I wanted to add that I in no way thing that MOST African-Americans are poor and uneducated.
    However, I do think that a disproportionate number of minorities live in poverty due to racial issues and the fact that the past is still influencing the present which will carry over into the future of America. America has a HUGE amount of her population living in poverty. And, that is unexcusable. Things have got to change.

  • JB May 25, 2006, 11:17 pm

    I see you misread my post. If you read that one and all my others a little more closer and a bit more of an open mind you’ll see that I came out of those very same conditions. I couldn’t sleep at night because I was terrified a stray bullet would come through my window and kill me or that I’d be trapped in my burning house because of some gang war. My point is that I didn’t give into the sterotypical expectations of people who grew up in those situations and was commenting on how ignorant and futile it is to lead such a life. I also invite you to read more closely and see that there is a difference between black people and niggers. I work every day of my life with black people but not a single one of them is a nigger. Before you crucify me for what I have said, why don’t you sit back for just a moment and read it again with the same open mind that you encourage the rest of the people to read it.

  • Pumpkin May 25, 2006, 11:45 pm

    The word nigger isn’t really bad in and of itself. It is the ignorance and hate that usually accompany it that are. I am sure you must understand that the ghettos are there because of the lack of care for poverty striken people in America, the lack of good education and the lack of money being put into changing the conditions these people have been forced to live in for hundreds of years. It is a cycle that needs to be broken. The people carrying those guns didn’t start out that way. It was the environment they grew up in. An environment that everyone complains about and no one wants to fix. I don’t think calling people niggers is going to change things. It is just a word to dehumanize a group of people. What we need is to help them by seeing them as people, good or bad, and by building bridges out of the ghettos and not building more walls with words around the ghettos.

    Don’t think that France doesn’t have a similiar problem with the quartiers and racism…I am sure you know about the car burnings…but, do you know why the cars were burned? Do you know why those kids in the quartiers are angry? Did you know that they can’t find work because of racial profiling? Do you know that not unlike many minorities in America, they are stuck in their current situation with little hope of getting out. That causes anger and anger leads to violence. The only thing that keeps France from really becoming like America with the gangs and such is that France has a social system that keeps people out of poverty.

    The problem is labeling. Once we stop labeling then we can really move on.

    I hope you see that.

  • Jessica May 26, 2006, 12:07 am

    I’m glad JB commented here, so I know where this is coming from. Holy shit, I don’t see how saying things like:

    “Here the easiest way to starve one is to hide their foodstamps under their work boots.”

    “I don’t much mind white guys acting black but it just kills me to see white girls acting black. Wearing black clothes, wearing black hair, driving black cars, speaking black accents and carrying little halfbreed black babies.”

    could not be interpreted as racist. Listen, you cannot have a productive conversation with a racist. And your thoughtful reply was more than he deserved.

    I agree with your assessment, Pumpkin. And yeah, the racial situation in France is just as bleak. When I lived in Paris, there were ghettos where ambulances wouldn’t even go to at night. Places with serious problems with gang rape. Scary, scary neighborhoods.

  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 10:52 am

    Thanks, Jessica…as always you summed it up perfectly where as it takes me many words to get it out. Blunt is best in this case. :)

  • carra May 26, 2006, 1:33 pm

    I do agree with you Pumpkin and I am not a racist, never was never will be. For me the colour of the skin or the language doesn’t make any difference, but there is a but. When I lived in Paris (for three months) I lived in a very poor area in one of the suburbs, in Argenteuil anyone who lives in Paris knows what I am talking about especially when I say it was two RER stops from Porte De Clichy, many things happened there. There were lot’s of different colour people there. I made friends with a black guy from Togo, I’ll never forget him and a guy from Algeria in an internet café that I shared the books and discussed about religion with, but still one night we went with my friend from Togo to buy some cigarettes and as we were walking out of the bar tabac an arabic man said(in french): a white whore with a black bastard. I felt insulted he was the rasist but I walked away, that kind of arabic men were sitting in bar tabacs all day long playing lotto and dorpping nasty comments on people like my friend and I, I never said anything back I am not that kind. I do dislike these men because they complain about not having a job, well I feel like saying get your ass in gear get into the train and look for the job in the city if you can’t find it here! I do not say I dislike arabic men or women in total as I did have many arabic friends when I lived in Paris. But I knew arabic people who lived in Paris for years didn’t speak a word in French and all the time were looking for an European wife so that they can get a comfortable position in the West! Am I a racist for saying this? I don’t think so. Myself being an Eastern European I get accused of marrying my husband for money or nationality all the time but I don’t care. If I will ever apply for British nationality at least I speak fluent English. We live in France at the moment and believe me I do not expect people to speak to me Lithuanian or English. My point is when there were those kids burning the cars they were burning the cars of their neighbours and other people liked them, who worked hard to have what they do. Just because in certain area there is no work in Paris it doesn’tean that you can’t look elsewhere. I am fully aware of French nationalism and often they won’t invite you for an interview because your surname is nt French or European enough, I know that because I have been there, done that, worn the T shirt. But I did not go burning other people’s cars. Those young people were born in France and when their parents settled in this country they new what they are doing, I am sure they were aware of French nationalism, can you blame French? They want to believe that France ought to be French, but still we know it’s their fault that they are in the position they are, because they should’ve thought before taking over other people’s countries especially in Africa. Now they have to deal with them here. The history has punished French, the same as it punished British. Just in Britain it’s worse! A muslim girl took a school to court because they didn’t let her wear her religous clothing to school (they had uniforms that were required), the girl took the school to court and won, that makes her better than anyone else in the school because she can wear what she likes because she’s a muslim (no one else is allowed!)! Why not go to a muslim school! Everyday the ferries leaving Calais are full or arabic and black people who drop their pasports into the Channel and then call themselves asylum seekers, they get home, mobile phones, cars and have a priority in getting a job without speaking a word of Englsih! And I’ve seen them myself in a hotel that’s now designated for asylum seekers standing around the building all day doing nothing, selling the cars that goverment gave them and btw they do get money too! So I am trying to see the boths sides of the coin. I to get a job in the UK had to register in some silly program with home office and pay 50 pounds so I can work! Those people can get a job within a day and they don’t want to work! Again I will repeat I am not a racist and the problems you are talking about are real and they should get sorted, because those goverments are powerfull sending aid all around the world unable to sort problems of their own. That shouldn’t happen, but it does. It is a big issue and we got to learn to see it from all the angles, and no one should be there to judge.
    P.S. I am with Jewish background and was racially abused in Lithuania all the time!

  • katrina May 26, 2006, 3:15 pm

    Noone is forced to live in any situation. I grew up in these same neighorhoods in these same conditions and did not turn out like that. In order to break the cycle, you have to want to break the cycle. You have to do it for yourself, noone else can do it for you.

    The money is there, my mother worked at the dept of family and children services for 35 years and saw the types of people who would come in, unwilling to work, and expect the government to pick up the tabs on theirs and their childrens lives. Only recently has the legislation been changed so that they cannot stay on assistance forever, they have to get a job to continue receiving benefits. At one point my mother would have been fired from her job for just suggesting they go to work. When the legislation finally changed and they told people they had to go to work (the ones who weren’t elderly or disabled at least) she was met with such harsh words telling her “I don’t need a damn job I just need you to give me my stamps”. Everyday it was like that for her.

    You have to want to better yourself and your situation. Name calling doesn’t fix anything but expresses the frustration others of us feel at a situation that isn’t getting any better and is now affecting us too.

  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 3:37 pm

    I understand that it isn’t perfect on either side but it is a cycle that has been going on for years and years. It isn’t just about money it is about these people growing up taught the same thing and not seeing that it will really change for them. I agree they won’t get out of it unless they really want to. However, what about the kids? Can’t we start teaching them something else? Shouldn’t urban schools be as good as the ones in the rich neighborhoods? I could go on. However, frustration is one thing…hate is another.

  • katrina May 26, 2006, 3:51 pm

    trust me, none of the schools here are perfect, they are all well below standards. however, some of the worst schools get the best teachers, because you really have to want to help the kids and really care about the kids to go work in an enviroment like that. the truth is there is no easy solution, because as much help as they get at school if they go home to a horrid enviroment where they get no support it will be very hard for them to change. i’ve always said you should have to take classes before you can have a baby. everything else requires hours of training (jobs, drivers license…) but anyone can have a baby and ruin the baby’s life.

  • bReal May 26, 2006, 6:38 pm

    very critical discussion, pumpkin. thank you for posting this. i think that the most unsettling thing for me with regard to the delineation of black and nigger is the reality that white people (and i am white) do not have to face such judgment where their character is concerned, in direct reference to their race. where do we ever fully discuss white men in the same capacity that JB describes niggers? because all people, regardless of race, have the capacity to be deplorable. yet, it seems that black men seem to be under the microscope constantly. and using the term nigger? that is a very hateful word. words are not merely utterances…they come with very powerful associations and for blacks, that word comes with tremendous pain and subjugation.

    i realize that blacks often refer to each other as such but my black friend once told me that in his mind, it was a black man’s way of using that word exclusively…a word that was once used to relegate his position now is a word that blacks are taking back and using to empower themselves. now of course this is a highly controversial viewpoint and regardless of what one’s position may be on such, the greater issue must be addressed: why do we have to delineate so much? and in no way should individuals be color blind because to do so would strip away the historical and current realities of race, and it deprives us of culture. but differences should be accepted (despite our own personal comfort or beliefs) and without feeling the need to place those differences (race, gender, religion, etc.) on some sort of hierarchy. when we do that, we discriminate.

    and i think it is wonderful to see people break out of poverty on their own but it in no way should that be expected. i was in the brooklyn projects awhile ago interviewing a couple of high school students who witnessed the murder of their best friend (and many others). if you look in those kids’ eyes…their gaze can barely reach the end of the block. their lives have already been so burdened. and how are they to be expected to get a job and make a “respectable” life for themselves, just as someone such as myself, when i grew up in safe, suburban america, attending private school and enjoying my comfortable childhood? my biggest concerns as a child pale greatly when compared to the hunting and survival necessary for them just to exist.

    black people and many other minorities (a word i also hate using because it is rife with negative connotation) do not fill american projects and find themselves significantly reflected on poverty charts because they are lazy or incapable. drug legislation, accessibility to guns and drugs, housing discrimination, the prison industrial complex, and general rampant racism…all lend to thier situation. you assume that anyone in the projects can get a job, a proper education? really? how many kids living in the projects do you think have access to a computer, a library, or the appropriate resources? when you grow up with drugs and violence, it becomes a part of you. it isn’t as easy as merely bootstrapping. and again, it is wonderful when people can do that…but please, don’t be ignorant enough to believe that everyone is capable of that.

    social welfare is non-existent. healthcare is a luxury that even salaried individuals cannot afford these days. i beg people to step outside of themselves and really seek awareness where race and poverty are concerned. yes, there are lazy people and yes, there are crude people, but let’s not make this about labeling because in doing so we limit people. rather, we should be more consumed with our government, who enables the perpetuation of poverty and racism. too often we think that racism lies only in the heart of the individual but racism is heavily institutionalized and operates in powerful ways at powerful levels.

    i’m glad you posted this pumpkin. it is never easy to discuss such things, but it is important…to engage in dialogue, to challenge each other, and become more aware as a result.

  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 8:22 pm

    B-real, Thank you so much for posting your comment. You said what I was saying in yet another way and from personal experience since you have worked with the children that are concerned. What you said brought tears to my eyes about the boys and what they went through. And, you are so right to say that racism and poverty are institutionalized. Thank you again for your moving words.

  • carra May 26, 2006, 8:57 pm

    Pumpkin, I think all of your readers agree with you (including me), you are right, and you are a wonderful human being for bringing tese subjects up, they are important and if more people like you start talking about it one day we will be able to make a change, maybe my comment was inapropriate, but we all should see from all the angles, and realize what is going on, enough of that i don’t see it it doesn’t bother me tactics, and that’s what you are setting an example for!

  • Bernadette May 26, 2006, 10:17 pm

    your message is powerful and clear, pumpkin. and your heart and efforts are in the exact place they should be. people spend way too much energy constructing delineations and ridiculously defending them. it can be difficult to break down stereotypes when they seem so dominant in our minds, but we are all human beings at the very core, and a respect for humanity must overcome our personal experiences and prejudices.

    it was very painful to be in the projects in bed-stuy, brooklyn, and at the same time it really opened my heart. too often people want to turn their back on that reality but once you open yourself up to it and vow not to be ignorant, you embrace humanity, and can thus make a difference.

    thank you again for posting such a crucial post pumpkin…your perception is beautiful and even when we feel that we are just one person unable to make a real difference, remember that your children will no doubt benefit from your awareness and courage…and that is the greatest thing you could give this world.

  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 10:22 pm

    Carra, I dont think your comment was inappropriate. You talked about how you were treated and how you felt. I agree there are those that dont want to work and there are mean people in all levels of life. My real point was that calling people dehumanizing names and talking about the things that I read were not going to help change the situation but only add to it in a bad way. We must understand why and how these people got where they are and then find away to change things and break from the cycle.

  • buzzgirl May 27, 2006, 6:25 pm

    Pumpkin, I do appreciate that you posted this. I didn’t comment because I hate being in the position of speaking for “all black people.” My mission on earth is not to give the black point of view (as if there was just one such thing.)

    I do think that some commenter’s justifications and insistences that they are not racist belie what they’ve put out into the universe for all to behold.

    You’ve started a conversation that I hope will continue in folks’ own homes, minds and hearts. Thank you.

  • Pumpkin May 27, 2006, 8:18 pm

    You said it best…”a conversation that I hope will continue in folks’ own homes, minds and hearts.”

    I hope so, too.

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