Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Short Essay About Racism, Answering One of My College Students, Who Asked What Causes It

On Racism

By David Hartley Mark

“Racism is as American as apple pie.”

--H.Rap Brown (1943- ), American Black Panther Leader, 1960s

            In an English Composition Class, one of my students shared his feelings about an essay about Bullying and Racism, by telling me confidentially about how he first suffered from Racism when he was in the 3rd Grade, and how another, older student came to his aid. He asked me why Racism exists. This is my answer to him.

John (not his real name), thank you for having the courage to share. We Americans all suffer from racism at some point in our lives, and, sadly, we never forget it. This may come up at some point in our class discussions-- it tends to come up more frequently in American Literature-- and my "short answer" for why Jews, African-Americans, or (any other race/ethnic/color group) cause racism is, "They exist."

Racists are people who learned, usually from their ignorant parents, to hate. As they grow older, there is something deep inside themselves that they hate, and they are afraid to confront it. (People don't like to admit that they hate themselves, or their parents, who gave them life, and who raised them.)

So they project that hatred outward, onto a scapegoat (you remember that from our Bible discussion), usually an innocent, helpless child or adult who just happens to be passing by. And sometimes, sadly, that innocent victim might be wearing a uniform identifying them as a soldier or a police officer.

It's an American disease, but it's found in other countries and societies as well. We can only fight it through education. Sometimes that doesn't work, and nations go to war. People shouldn't have to die because of racism, but they do.

Thank you for being in my class.