Recently my hometown of Romeo, Michigan, was the subject of harsh scrutiny. "Romeo High addresses racial threats" one headline roared, prompting many to respond with outrage, disillusionment, and an overall refusal to grasp the narrative being told.
We had hid behind the glimmering illusion that racism had not crept its way into our small-town lives -- that it hadn't woven itself deep into our roots. We, as a nation, falsely believe racism does not exist. We prescribe to the notion that racism's vicious reign collapsed in 1865 with the inclusion of the 13th amendment. However, all the 13th amendment established was that owning African Americans is now illegal -- it did not abolish prejudicial notions or the condemnation that still lingers with us today.
However, many us refuse to believe this kind of brutish hate resonates in our society, coexisting amongst "reformation" and "enlightenment."
I hate to shatter your "everyone loves everyone" utopia -- but racism still exists. So stop saying it doesn't.
We need to stop ignoring the parts of our society that make us uncomfortable. Instead, we need to stare it in its ugly face, and admit defeat. Only then can we eradicate racism -- only then can we grow as a society. Hiding behind a false facade of tolerance and acceptance may make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, but in reality, it renders acceptance impossible.
And for many of us, this is a battle we have never fought, nor will ever fight. This an issue that has never blemished our lives -- never crept its way into our existences. We're lucky for this.
We've never feared for our lives because of the color of our skins. We are the lucky ones.
So stop telling the people who actually struggle with this very real issue that they are incorrect in feeling what they feel. Stop telling them they can't feel threatened, persecuted, rejected, scrutinized, condemned, and resented.
How about we stop telling anybody how to feel. We cannot and should not dictate which emotions someone should feel. We cannot dole out the emotions we feel comfortable with, and throw away the one's that scare us. We don't have that right.
And one should not comment or reject the plight of a group they themselves do not belong to. Just because you have not experienced it yourself, does not mean it does not exist. You just fall outside the realm of those most effected.
We could never possibly understand the struggle someone else goes through, therefore we should be careful not to undermine its existence. Dismissing someone's struggle is perhaps the most malevolent thing we can do to a person. It's also the most calamitous thing a society can perpetrate upon itself -- because it leaves little room for growth and progression in its wake.
My hometown may have made headlines for its racism, but it isn't the only town where racism resides.
Denial of racism is just as bad as racism.