“Diversity is an aspect of human existence that cannot be eradicated by terrorism or war or self-consuming hatred. It can only be conquered by recognizing and claiming the wealth of values it represents for all.”
Hello I am Eugene! Growing up in a mixed community made racism more stereotypical for me than real. My playmates were from Mexico and my closest friends were White. In a mixed race family and community, however, everyone seemed aware of the stereotypes and we governed our lives by them. Interestingly, the stereotypes did not inhibit interaction, relationship, or care. Members of my small community regularly shopped together, learned together, churched together, and grew together. Sure, everyone believed the Black people were loud talkers, good singers and dancers, the best athletes, and quick to fight. Yes, everyone believed the White people were quiet talkers, decent singers and not so good dancers, average athletes, and quick to tattle. Of course, everyone believed the Hispanic people had the best food and the loudest, all day and all night parties. Many of these things were true for many members of those groups, but our community did not seem to care. In my generation, we knew who danced, sang, played, and fought well, and we knew who did not—regardless of racial identity. We made it work without great discrimination or overt racism. Well, at least that was my experience.
In high school, I moved to a predominantly White community and that is when I first experienced racism beyond the stereotypes – even though I did not recognize it as racism immediately. My view did not change, nor did my friend circles, which remained largely mixed. I was a young adult when I encountered and witnessed repeated racism by police, business managers, and authority figures that led to my views changing, and the change was needed. I needed to see what others were seeing. I needed to assimilate my distorted worldview to reality, which was far less kind and far more regarding of color than I had believed. In my adult years, I have learned so much more about discrimination, prejudice, racism, bigotry, and blind hatred than I honestly care to know.
For me, America is that small town of diversity in which I grew up. People of different kinds and creeds all making it work to bend the rules and getaway with an extra hour of playtime. I do not view my nationality – American – through the lens of my colored skin. Unlike most other Countries, the U.S.A. is ethnically diverse, which leads to unique challenges of assimilation. The diversity of America, the many colors herein, is truly a realization of an ideology that “all people are created equal.” Racism, this belief that certain characteristics of specific racial groups make one group superior and another inferior, must be eradicated. It threatens the life of individuals, it threatens a family’s ability to pursue happiness, and it threatens the moral stitching of America. I am a realist, however, and I recognize that people are committed to teaching their children and grandchildren to hate and reject others without knowing those others. I would like to hope those numbers are dwindling as mixed race families and communities grow. So maybe it is time that Americans turn on racists like racists turn on others. Maybe it is time for those racists to be denied accesses, privileges, and opportunities. Maybe it is time for Americans to say, “We are colored and the biggest Crayola box ever known.”
Eugene Furnace has a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in Counseling Psychology. He also has recieved a Doctorate in Behavioral Health.