My Name is Heather and I May Be a Racist – Patch

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On Opening Night at the Wisconsin State Fair, a large group – some say hundreds – of African American boys and girls physically attacked random, white, fair-goers. This was a full on riot clearly fueled by race. It is scary, sick and intolerable. These kids need to be brought up on hate crime charges and their parents need to be held equally as responsible.

What else is scary, sick and intolerable is the verbiage that has exploded all over the internet within the past 24 hours, even here on our Patch. It is as though there has been this entire section of people who have been just waiting for something like this to happen so they could jump up and scream “See!! I told ya so!!” There seems to be a huge percentage of our population who suddenly feel a sense of relief as their racist views are now – in their mind – justified not only to others, but more importantly, to themselves.

I will admit that I am not sure if I would sweat it more if a group of black men were walking in my direction as opposed to a group of white men. I am not certain that I wouldn’t picture a black woman when someone speaks of a welfare mom on Jacato. What I do know is that I hold stereotypes and prejudices within me. It is not something that is easy to realize or admit. But I believe that is exactly what we need to start doing. Because until you recognize and validate that an issue exists, only then can you help create change.

Since the election of President Obama, I have seen a new wave of racism online. And I believe it is primarily isolated to the internet due to the simple safety of anonymity. The whole birther nonsense was a glaring example of that, yet that group denied having an ounce of racial motivation. Maybe they are not consciously aware of it.

Those voicing their opinions on the State Fair insanity are using language reminiscent of 1960s Birmingham. And I often hear the argument that black people should “get over” slavery already. But have white people gotten over it? Some times it seems we have progressed very little.

When I was in 6th and 7th grade I often walked home by myself. I was usually the only white girl in sight. I was called many “whitey” like names, as well as other insults. I was hit, kicked, had things thrown at me. It was torture to go to school sometimes knowing what was waiting for me. I would try to tell the teachers and principals, but they often seemed too afraid to take action. This was in the 80s.

At the end of 8th grade, there was an incident I will never forget. There was a group of Hispanic boys speaking Spanish. We were in a large group at a local restaurant after our 8th grade graduation dance. The boys seemed to be taunting in some way and laughing, but we could not understand them. I was a little drunk on playing adult for the night and must have thought I was pretty smart. I yelled over to the boys something I remember my father saying when I was little, “You got off the boat, now speak the language.” I think when I said it I knew it was wrong, but didn’t really understand why.

When I think back to that moment, I still cannot be at ease with myself knowing I acted so ignorantly, embarrassingly and disrespectfully. I was a bigot. And getting picked on and tormented those years walking home was no excuse for what I said that night. Part of the reason, maybe, but not an excuse. What happened to me made it no more acceptable.

We live in this society of perpetual hate. With this political climate, it is only getting thicker. And until we admit to ourselves that race is indeed playing a role in this – the hate will eventually be our downfall. The attacks at the State Fair were spurred by hate, and the talk today is spurred by that very same hate.

How many black families live in Wind Point? How many white families live on Jacato? Poverty is a significant cause for the gap. Poverty breeds crime, lack of education, drug and alcohol use, unwanted pregnancies and it is that proverbial cycle over and over and over …

We cannot claim to understand something we have never lived. Take a kid who grew up with maybe one meal a day, one parent who was never around, went to school at a young age always feeling less than. We cannot tell that kid, “Hey, get over it and move on.” Many of us consider it a hardship to have only one family car or no air conditioning. People stricken with poverty – REAL poverty – is not something many of us truly understand. And climbing out of that hole is certainly not something about which we should lecture.

So why are so many African Americans beneath the poverty level? Can it really be coincidence? No. There is a systematic pathology which exists and creates this level of being beat down from birth. And that creates anger and hate which climbs up through the generations. And while we are indeed progressing, becoming more accepting of one another, opening our minds and hearts, we are still tainted with that which has seeped into who we are. All of us. Black and white.

I do not forgive or condone terrorism. But I also recognize that perhaps if we didn’t bomb every other country, we may not be as hated. The Wisconsin State Fair was basically the site of a terrorist attack – fueled by hate and without regard for consequence. Disgusting and inexcusable. But just because there isn’t an excuse doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. There is always a reason.

So what you have is a sub section of the African American community whose parents have given up for whatever reason. They have grown up with anger and hate and the need to be hard as nails. And we have a sub section of the Caucasian community who act as if they are tolerant and color blind. Yet at family picnics or anonymously online they show their true embedded feelings. I am not talking about extremists like the KKK or skin heads. I am talking about your neighbor, your brother … you.

Of course everything is fluid. Meaning, there are many white people who don’t have a single thought toward race; it’s never a consideration in their mind. And of course there are many black people who are not angry, did not grow up in a difficult life and who do not blame white people. These are not the people who need to fix this. It is the other 90% of the population.

It is time we start to become honest about these prejudicial flaws that many of us carry with us and use to make our choices in life. I think only then can we begin a dialogue, begin an understanding and begin to dissolve some of the ignorance-based decisions, verbiage, anger, hate, blame and fears.

This is probably my most commented piece on Patch yet. 83 comments thus far. For story and comments, see HERE

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About Heather Rayne

I am a mom, wife, writer, volunteer, eater of food, lover of animals and avid TV enthusiast. I am opinionated, honest, compassionate and sensitive. I can also be difficult, hard headed and emotional. I consider myself to have a great sense of humor and am very attracted to that in others. I am striving to live an authentic life. I am attempting to learn how to find happiness in the now. I always have hope to be a better person. That being said - I can be vulgar, negative and even a little bitchy at times. I say what I mean and my filter is often dysfunctional. With me, what you see is what you get. I have strong opinions and am quick to speak my mind. This can cause problems from time to time but I do not ever intend to hurt or offend anyone. With that - be warned. I do hope you enjoy my site. Thanks for visiting and have a swell day.

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