I think a lot of people while not actually racist, don’t really understand the idea of tolerance, and live a middle ground and don’t really think about it except to be defensive and insist they are not racist. But you don’t have to be racist to be part of the problem. I grew up with a mother that actively tried to promote tolerance, yet she grew up in the 40s and 50s, and carried some of the culture of the day with her. After the Detroit riots in 68 I was no longer allowed to go visit one of my best friends because he was black and lived in the “dangerous” side of town. I didn’t really understand the implications then, I was only 11. I didn’t think of my mother as part of the problem, She and her mother both use to tell us stories of how we were of part native American culture. This helped me be more tolerant, thinking how poorly my ancestors were treated. Turns out, with the advent of DNA testing, there is not one drop of native American blood in my veins, not sure it is was a mistake, or if it was done on purpose by my grand mother, but it did make me think about and understand tolerance better.

When I was living in LA in the 70s I called home and announced I was engaged. My fiancé’s name sounded ethnic and the first question she asked was, “Is she black?”. I did not respond right away, and she sputtered and said “Of, course it doesn’t matter.” But obviously it did. I have done my best as a parent to teach my children tolerance. One of the best moments of my life was when living in the Detroit area watching the Pistons play with my son, who was about 9 at the time. I made a comment about a play and mentioned Dennis Rodman. My son asked which player was Rodman. I responded the black player with the number 10 on his jersey. He looked at me quizzically and said, “There are two number 10s, one is wearing white and one is wearing blue, no one is wearing black.” I replied with Oh, I mean blue. It made me very proud that my son did not see a person’s color as a primary way of thinking of them, but made me realize that as tolerant and progressive as I try to be, I too have baggage of my upbringing I was still lugging around.

After that I tried to stop being color blind, and not just ignore color, which at the time I thought was a good thing, but started trying understand and embrace all ethnicity. It helped me see and understand that it doesn’t take a world full of racists to allow systematic racism to exist. Just a few in power and a majority of people that, whether from being willfully obtuse, or from being isolated from the effects, just don’t think about it or pay attention. I have since had to un-friend more than one close friend that showed a racist side that wouldn’t have been noticed if I hadn’t been actually paying attention.

With what is happening in our country I implore everyone to actually think about it. Are you and the people around you just not noticing how bad it is? Are your friends actively ignoring the issues because they are not affected? Are you, inadvertently part of the problem? So again, I am asking you to really think about it, because many of the issues the US it going through right now would never have happened if the average person seriously thought about it.




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