I come from small town, rural USA. (Honestly, most of you reading this know exactly where I come from!) Pike, New York is in a county that, at one time, boasted more cows than people. I'm not sure if that still holds up...but you get the idea. I lived in the country.
Most, if not all, of my neighbors were white...probably still would be if I lived there now. In high school we joked about having token families as our exposure to diversity. Scott grew up a mile down the road...same Caucasian experience as me. Yet, somehow, we're not racist or prejudiced. Well, Scott is a bit prejudiced against stupid people, but that's across every nationality, religion, and sexual preference.
What's my point?
Here, in the South, the wars still on! The ratio of black to white here is a heck of a lot closer to 50/50 than back North. I guess having neighbors of a different skin color, and being pleasant to their faces, doesn't actually mean anything about how you feel and act behind their backs.
And there aren't just issues between African Americans and those with Eastern European ancestry. A few days ago I was part of a conversation that started something like this:
"Look at them...all stuffed in that truck. How many of 'em do you think are in there?"
I was taken aback. I saw no reason to refer to the people in the other vehicle with such disdain. After getting over my shock I was offended, for the people in the truck and because this woman, who was riding in my car, assumed I would play right along with her nastiness. I didn't.
I wasn't rude to her, but was confident in my status as no better than the people getting gas next to us. I'm pretty sure that she didn't learn anything from my stance. She kept laughing and making comments. I was even direct and asked her not to talk negatively about the passengers in the truck. She laughed and got in one last comment. Arg.
Obviously I'm still a bit riled by this. Every culture has stereotypes about it and sometimes talking about them can be funny and light hearted. Other times, when comments are mean spirited and said with a smirk...it's prejudice. There's no need for it. There's no reason for it. Don't we all know enough to know that no whole grouping of people is worthy of outright badmouthing just for being who they are?
Not all bald men are scary, even though I know there is a community of white men with skin heads that hate on a grand scale. Apply this to everyone...and stop your freakin' judging and obnoxious rudeness simply based on skin color, ethnicity, religion...any of it. Seriously, people!
OK, even though my letting off steam tends to be a quiet little tea kettle whistle, I do feel a little better. Maybe, somehow saying my piece will ripple out into the greater world and make a difference.