We can comprehend going to the moon, transplanting a living heart, tunneling through a mountain, but we can’t imagine a world in which all people are treated as equal?
Racism. It is such an ugly word. It highlights how some people think they are better than other people. It creates shame in many and anger in others. We don’t like to think about racism in America because it ruins the illusion that America is the land of opportunity, a place where we can all be equal if we just work hard enough.
Of course, no one really believes we are all equal. There are a million ways in which we judge ourselves based on the failings we find in others. Racism is just one way in which we do this, but it is a way that has been embedded into the very fabric of our institutions. Our very first document, the Constitution, laid the foundation for a racist society (and a classist and sexist society as well). Although racism in America existed long before the country did. We love to be proud of being American, of all we have accomplished, our racist past reminds us we have also much to be ashamed of.
The United States, all of the American Countries, were lands that once belonged to another people. The indegenous natives of these lands did not want their way of life destroyed, their communities dismantled, their culture debased, their very existence eliminated. They did not ask the Europeans who conquered this land to come here. They certainly did not expect to be driven from their land and into reservations, their children and lives stripped from them. The Africans who were taken from their home and brought to this land as slaves did not ask to be brought here. They did not ask to be held in bondage, their children sold away from them, their ability to be free destroyed.
This is what racism did. It’s past lingers with us. The land we live on was taken from others. The systems of wealth that were built were gained on the backs of others (whether those backs were black slaves or white indentured servants). In so many ways those who prosper in this country do so by having trodden on the backs of others. This is part of the legacy of racism.
We don’t actually have to have a country where this is the reality. I think that is what is often missing in these conversations. We actually can choose to have something better. A country, a world, that is built on abundance in which we remove the barriers that hold people down. It seems an unimaginable dream to some people, which strikes me as so ironic. We can comprehend going to the moon, transplanting a living heart, tunneling through a mountain, but we can’t imagine a world in which all people are treated as equal? Think about that. Think about the limits we put around ourselves and ask yourself why?
Then ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in.