A history, not THE history. I don't believe the history of racism can be written. It would fill volumes upon volumes and never be complete until everyone has told their story.
This is my history of racism. My experiences with it.
I am white. I have spent my entire life in a mostly white community. My experience with racism is extremely limited. I don't know that I have ever been the target of racism. And I have only seen it on a limited basis.
I have heard relatives, friends, neighbors talk about someone and make judgments based on that person's race. Make jokes about people. Complain about people. Not about the one person they know or have had experience with, but about all people they associate with that person.
Prejudice is a prejudgment. Deciding something about a person or group of people based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, whatever without really knowing that person.
When we expand it to talk about prejudice instead of just racism I have slightly more experience. I have been treated like I was stupid because I am a woman. And my religion has been slammed over and over, especially recently. Since I am Mormon, people think they know what I am like. That all Mormons are the same.
I do not understand. I do not understand prejudice. I do not understand writing someone off because of how they look or where they are from. It's a logical fallacy. A sweeping generalization.
This apple is red. This apple is sweet. All red apples are sweet.
Most of us can read that argument and know that it's not true. We've probably all had red apples that were tart, so we know that's not true. It's obvious.
So why isn't it obvious when the same argument style is used about people?
This person is from Pakistan. This person is a terrorist. All Pakistanis are terrorists.
This person is a woman. This person doesn't know about cars. Women don't know anything about cars.
This person is Mormon. This person is closed-minded and judgmental. All Mormons are closed-minded and judgmental.
I could go on and on.
I do not understand judging a person based on a group they are affiliated with. I do not understand people who hate African-Americans. I do not understand people who look down on Latinos. I do not understand people who shun homosexuals.
I believe much of it is based on fear. A fear that something about that person threatens our way of life. A fear of the unknown.
And I find it difficult to process that our country's struggle with equality is still going on. I can't believe that the struggle for civil rights was still going on in my lifetime. It seems like something from ancient history. I can't believe that as advanced as we are in so many ways we still get so hung up on personal and ethnic differences.
Maybe it's because I grew up on Sesame Street and The Electric Company, very forward-thinking shows. I really grew up believing that we are more alike than we are different. That we can be friends. That we can learn to work together. And that we can do all of this with respect and understanding.
I am sad that this still has to be a wish for the future because it isn't the present.