Race confuses me. Not because I am color blind, or culturally tone deaf. I think it has more to do with how I came up.
At the age of 6 I was dropped into a the mix in a foreign country. Didn't know anyone. Didn't speak the language. Didn't know the customs. Zero. They wouldn't take me in school because I didn't speak the language.
My parents looked around for a teacher (they took classes themselves), and their teacher gave them the best advice; "Toss him out in the yard with the rest of the locals. He's the perfect age to pick it up on his own." Bingo! In 4 months I had learned enough Spanish to get into school. A year later, my speech, including accent, was indistinguishable from the any local's.
By then I was in 1st grade. At my school nobody got out of 1st grade until they could speak, read, and write in both Spanish & English. The notion that anyone was incapable of this, never crossed anyone's mind. By the way... no one was held back (God bless you Mrs. Wilson).
I was in a class of 24 kids. 21 Chilenos, a German girl, a dutch girl, and me, "El Gringo" (I am dead center in the picture).
And that was how it was. I was "el gringo". I was always last to pick picked for teams. I got hit with more spit wads than anyone else... sucker punched just for fun. In any disagreement in school, if the teacher was Chilean, it was my fault. If the teacher was an anglo, in order to make sure no one cried something about race, it was still my fault.
I could count on about 2 fights a week, before school, because I was the white kid. Continued until I figured out how to beat the snot out of the toughest one.
My parents were often stolen from, because everyone knows Gringos are rich. Most of the stores they shopped at had two prices; one for Chilenos, one for Gringos.
We found that we had about a 2-block radius around our home. Inside it, we were mostly safe. You never went outside it alone. Traveling in pairs didn't always work, either. Sometimes we'd still get chased home by gangs of up to 15 local kids, throwing rocks bottles, whatever.
I remember occasionally being spit on by complete strangers (usually adults), for no other reason than the color of my skin.
My parents were taught that, whether walking, or driving, if you saw someone injured, or in need of help, what ever you do, you never stop to help. Reason? Because, as soon as the police arrive, you would find yourself immediately accused of being the cause of it all. After all, rich gringos paid higher bribes to be let off than locals.
It goes on, but you get the idea. This was a constant part of my life until I was 11.
So, the idea that "You don't know what it's like", is lost on me.
Through it all, I always struck by one thing: How incredibly ignorant the people doing all this appeared to me, be they child, or grown up. I vowed to myself that I would never allow anyone to be able to look upon me, the way I saw those people.
I've kept that vow. One of the first things I noticed, when we came back to the states (Nov. 1960), was the fact that there was the same thing going on here between the whites, and blacks. I was too young, when we left, to even know the US had a race problem. Besides, my parents always treated everyone the same. To me, they were the "Standard" for how you treat people.
The next thing I noticed awakened me a bit more. The people here, carrying on towards blacks, they displayed the exact same kind of ignorance as the folk I'd seen in Chile. What it pointed out to me, if in a rather negative way, was how much people are the same, all over. I re-took my vow.
I built from this point, up. What it turned into was a rabid belief in the notion that "people is people". How you treat them reflects on you. You cannot control how they treat you, but you can have an influence. You do that by treating them as genuine equals. They'll catch on, or they won't. That reflects upon them.
In the US, we appear to be obsessed with whites. This is an incredible, complete miss on the problem. You might as well try to treat blood poisoning, in someone's arm, by trimming their fingernails.
In this life, I have lived in two countries. I have worked, and taught in at least five. I have worked for Anglos, Germans, Chinese, Jews. I have worked, on a daily basis with Techs from Japan, India, Taiwan, Germany, the UK, + others. i can tell you that the notion whites are the only racists, or that it'll stop when we are "cured" is the biggest pile of crap I have ever heard of. Some observations:
* To the Japanese, I was "Gai Jin" (barbarian). Some of the techs I had to work with wouldn't even speak to me.
* To the Chinese/Taiwanese, I was "Guay Lo" (round eye). Again, sometimes beneath talking to. Mostly I was a "necessary evil" for doing business in the US, as I spoke the language.
* Germans usually treated me as if I was a complete moron. They considered their level of technology incomprehensible to a yank's brain (even more so when they happened to be wrong).
* And the blacks... Jeezus! #1, A good portion of them begin with the assumption that all whites are racist. I often wonder when, if ever, it'll dawn on them that this in itself is an incredibly racist point of view. Lost in the shuffle is dealing with the fact that the Moors raided Europe for slaves, long before whites repaid the visit. Or that it was blacks who later captured blacks to sell to the white slavers.
The sad truth, that no one seems to consider in all this, is that things like "affirmative action", a hand up, reparations, and any notions along those lines, does absolutely nothing but perpetuate differentiating the races. In short, it accomplishes nothing. Or worse
You don't achieve racial equality, by picking out "favorites", making them flavor of the month. You stop racism two ways:
1. By refusing to allow it, in any form.
2. You STOP doing it!
Nothing else will do.
Here is one of the most intelligent observations I've ever heard, on the matter:
"The time may have come when the issue of race could benefit from a period of 'benign neglect." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Or as my Mom would often say, when I was trying to get a scab off my skin... "Dont pick at it! It'll never heal!"