A Question of Race

Classic Family Story:

When my aunt was around 10, she brought home a little boy from her class. Her father blinked a few times and after the little boy left, he pulled her over.

"Suzie, right now it's okay to have your friend over. But when you get older, you won't be able to."

"Why not?" 

"Well, he has dark skin."

My aunt looked down at her arm to see her black skin. "So do I."

"Well, he has kinky hair."

My aunt looked at her father and said, puzzled, "So do I."

My grandfather, white as can be, stared at his daughter. "Never mind."

Race has never been an issue in my house. Well, it was in that my mother grew up in the South.

"I hate it there," she spat out. "They made my sister and I sit in the back of the bus." For my mother and her sister, with their dark chocolate skin, black hair (and my aunt's kinky hair) and black eyes, were deemed black and treated as second class citizens.

My mother experienced racism firsthand which made her a great champion of civil rights. As she was for sex education in the schools, women's rights and gay rights (before anyone knew such a thing).

Mom wasn't a liberal; she believed that everyone should have a fair shot in life. What I like to think as the natural progression of an enlightened and civilized society.

Mom considered herself white even though she had Arabic roots. I'm deemed white even though I'm half Arabic. When I lived in France, the Arab community thought I was one of them. When I went to college, I was invited to the Black Student Union until my tan faded.

I don't listen to radio or watch tv. My news comes from online which is all over the place right now. There's a hue and cry about this guy, Zimmerman, who shot and killed another guy, Martin, during a neighborhood watch. There's outrage all over. This was called a racist act.

My question is this: Which kind of racism? White vs Black? Hispanic vs Black?

I've been told that Zimmerman's half white/half Hispanic. Yet, he's called white.

President Obama's half white/half black. Yet, he's called black.

I'm very confused. What makes someone white or black or Hispanic?

The media has pulled this tragedy every which way and back. I'm not minimizing what occurred. Being apart from hysteria, an immunity it seems from my hearing disability, it appears to me that it was a case of two guys showing off their machismo which got out of hand.

Then again, being a woman, I guess it's my form of chauvinism.

# # #

No comments: