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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Kent Bush: Racism isn’t born, it’s taught

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  • I hate white people.
    That may sound crazy, but if I had included another race or cultural group in that sentence, many people would agree with me.
    Racism isn’t dead.
    It isn’t even waning. The practice has moved out of the mainstream for the most part.
    However, you need to look no further than online message boards to find out there are plenty of people who still possess the ability to hate a person because of the color of their skin or country of origin.
    Some aren’t worried about anonymity.
    They fly their Rebel flags on their homes and vehicles, they post their views on Facebook and Twitter and they publicly joke about “those people.”
    As the parent of one of “those people,” my concern grows daily.
    I have been so happy with how our son has been received since he arrived here from Ethiopia last July. At church and preschool, in stores and parks, most people have treated him very well.
    The children are especially accepting. They haven’t learned to hate someone for such a silly reason yet.
    Most of them never will. But some will receive that instruction.
    Comedian Dennis Leary had it right when he said, “Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a 2-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”
    Dawit’s friends have never seemed to notice that he is the only one in the class whose tan lasts all winter. They don’t even discriminate against him because he struggles to speak English.
    We haven’t had the same luck with adults. Several comments have been repeated to me about what some people think of us bringing a black child to Augusta, Kan., and increasing the minority population significantly.
    I didn’t have some Pollyanna outlook when we adopted a son from Africa. I knew those views existed. Dawit will face discrimination that my “natural” son Blake never will.
    I guess I just hoped that it would die with the generation of ignorance who hold those beliefs and wouldn’t be alive and well into future generations.
    There is plenty of reason for hope, but reading comments made after tragic events can bury your hope in fear for the future.
    After a young black man was named as the main suspect in a double homicide at a Wichita Dollar General store, the racist commenters quickly made sure everyone realized this was another example of a black man committing a crime.
    “Black male? Wow that’s a surprise,” one said.
    After that comment, a thread of accusations of racism and those defending the practice took up most of the page I was reading.
    Page 2 of 2 - All the while, my 5-year-old black child played on the living room floor in front of me.
    I couldn’t help but wonder how many of his tears I will dry one day thanks to mindless comments. I thought about how I should respond if one of these anonymous commenters ever had the guts to say something directly to me or my son.
    I hope I would be able to overlook the ignorance and bitterness that fuel remarks like that. I would like to believe I could take the high road and respond honorably in a difficult situation.
    I know my initial reaction when I read horrible comments about “those people” isn’t as honorable as I would like it to be.
    I’ll continue to pray for “those people” as well as “those people” who discriminate against them.
    Racism is taught, and respect for all races can be taught as well.
    People used to think the Earth was flat. New information was gathered and new instruction informed opinions.
    It is up to us to re-educate young people when we hear them espousing racist beliefs or spouting negative cultural stereotypes.
    “All men are created equal” didn’t include exceptions to the rule.
    Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.
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