I just don't understandby Trish Milburn
Last night, I sat down at my computer to write this blog so I could get it posted early this morning. The problem was I didn’t know what topic to cover. So I did an online search for “this day in history” for Dec. 1. What popped up was the fact that 50 years ago today, Rosa Parks ignited the famous bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. No matter how many times I hear the story of Parks actually being jailed for this, it always blows my mind. I simply don’t understand how people can hate each other so vehemently and treat each other so awfully simply because of the color of their skin.
I remember the first time I saw the video footage of police officers siccing dogs – dogs! – on African-Americans in the South during the segregation era and being sickened and shocked by it. What were these people thinking? What in the blue blazes were they afraid of? It was even more shocking that these things weren’t happening in the 1800s; the bus boycott happened a mere 15 years before I was born. I’m a southerner, and I like being from the South. But mixed in with our warm hospitality and ready willingness to help people in need is our shameful history beginning with slavery and continuing on through segregation and even the racism that still exists in some places today.
But here’s a negative repercussion you don’t hear about often. All that segregation and hatred hurt the Caucasian population as well, and we’re still paying for it. There are more than a few people outside of the South who think we’re all racists, bigots and a lot of other awful words. We’re not all racists, no more than we’re all running around with no teeth and marrying our first cousins. The ugly truth about stereotypes is that they often have some basis in truth, but they’ve grown and morphed until the truth is blown all out of proportion and barely resembles itself anymore.
Though the South is often the region of the country people think about when they think of racism, it’s not uniquely southern. In other parts of the country, Hispanics and Jewish people have had the painful words of hate hurled at them. Chinese workers have suffered the same ill will throughout our country’s history. And I don’t understand one bit of it.
Perhaps most disturbing of all to me is the hatred that is cloaked in religion. Palestine versus Israel. Irish Catholics versus Protestants. Shiite versus Sunni. I cannot, no matter how I twist my brain, understand how people can hate and kill in the name of religion. I just don’t think the heart of religion – be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, whatever – is about these darks sides of human nature.
Whether people are hating others because of what they believe, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or any other thing that makes a group “different”, in my heart and in my mind it’s still wrong. I just want to scream, “Why can’t we all just get along? The world is big enough for all of us!”
There’s a cliché about beauty pageant contestants who always answer that their fondest wish is world peace. If I were standing on that stage, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t say the same thing.
In a totally unrelated topic, don't forget that there's a new issue of the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine online now. Be sure to check out all the fabulous articles.