Racism: 1) prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior; 2) the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
I offer the definition of “racism” from the dictionary for a very specific reason: a large majority of people in this country today – black or white – have no clue as to what genuine racism is.
It’s like being offered a dish of English trifle; most people would have no idea what to expect, never having experienced or become familiar with it. When I was first offered trifle in a British restaurant, I had no clue what it was. I had to ask, “What is it? The main course, an appetizer, a dessert?” So it is with the overwhelming majority of Americans today vis-a-vis racism; they have not personally experienced the genuine, bona fide article.
The current NFL brouhaha concerning the flag, the national anthem and racism brought to my mind the first time I became personally, and intimately, aware of institutionalized discrimination, based on race, in America. It was the thing that catapulted me into hating white people while following Malcolm X and his anti-white black nationalism message. Interestingly, it started with football.
My father, my first hero, personally exemplified the term “football fan.” He was the number one fan of the local high-school football team, the Uvalde Coyotes. He went to every game and never veered from committed support, win or lose. He was of such vigorous vocal support that the cheerleaders got together and took up a collection to buy him a megaphone to use at the games.
I attended a “neighborhood” (aka segregated) school where we graduated from eighth grade before heading to high school. When graduation took place, I was asked at the ceremony where I wanted to attend high school, since it was 40 miles to one and 85 miles to the other (one way) – both black schools. My immediate and enthusiastic response was, “I wanna play for the Coyotes!” (the local high-school team). Upon conclusion of the ceremony, I was called aside and informed that I could not play for the Coyotes. When I asked why not, I was told, “Coloreds can’t go to that high school.”
Until that moment, I was relatively innocent regarding legal segregation. Yes, there had been some instances of “you can’t do that,” but they were offset by our parents, and other adults, who explained it away. This was different; I couldn’t be a hero to my hero (“Daddy”) – just because I was colored. That was my initial introduction to official racism and the beginning of my move to becoming a black militant and embracing anti-Americanism.
(Maybe Congress should pass a “Racial Re-Compensation Act” wherein the government offers a $25,000 reward to any black person who can prove there is something they officially, legally, legislatively cannot do in this country today solely and specifically because they are black.)
Back in the day, we didn’t have to wonder if, suspect or imagine racism. Let me provide a brief glimpse into what millions of coloreds and I actually experienced prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the 1965 Voting Rights Act – what real racism looks like.
Blind people had separate buildings for “coloreds” and “whites.” There were separate hotels and motels. There were segregated schools and no interchangeable textbooks between white and colored schools. There were separate phone booths and water fountains (including in the White House). There were separate restrooms (white men, white women and colored – men and women used the same restroom). Persons, firms or corporations (i.e., restaurants) could not serve whites and blacks at the same counters or tables. There were separate buildings for whites and blacks in prisons. Blacks and whites in mental hospitals could not be together. White and black amateur baseball players could not play within two blocks of each other. “Coloreds” could not visit city parks maintained by the city for whites. There was no interracial dating or marriages. Finally, you “… shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons.”
The following actually took place in Portsmouth, Virginia, many years ago. I was, at the time, co-host of “The 700 Club” at the Christian Broadcasting Network and was outside talking with some phone counselors when a Baptist deacon approached my group. He was a “Christian” – and a staunch segregationist. One of the white counselors asked him a question: “Deacon, brother Ben knows the Lord, he is a Christian, and he has led many people to Jesus. Will he be with us in heaven?” The deacon looked at me for a moment, then turned to the counselors and said, “Well, yes.” Then he said, very seriously, “because when we get to heaven, we will all be washed whiter than snow.” True story.
Was there any hope at all for resolution and harmony between the races? Yes, later there was. But perspective is sorely lacking in today’s narrative about race relations.
It is now 2017, and some insist on maintaining a distorted view of racism in America today. Genuine, bona fide racism is – like the aforementioned English trifle – something that, until you have personally experienced it, you cannot claim to know it.
Speaking of personally experiencing racism: What is the gripe among the NFL players anyway?
Let’s review: 70-80 percent of them are black and make an average of $1.9 million a year. They fly on chartered planes. They stay in five-star hotels. They drive multiple expensive cars. They live in million-dollar homes. They eat at any restaurant of their choosing. They experience interracial dating and marriages. And they enjoy the support and adulation of millions of fans. They are enjoying privileges and opportunities that most Americans could never imagine experiencing.
So much for the “oppressed black man” in America today.
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