« on: April 12, 2007, 09:39:50 PM »
Wow. So I here I applied to SC and still haven't heard back, saw this thread on my page of unreads and thought, Hey! Maybe someone else is waiting until they send the rest of their decisions at the end of April....
What the hell did I step into?
I usually stay out of conversations like these but like on the Regent thread, feel compelled to say something.
I was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Virginia (lived there for 20 years) then joined the Navy where I lived in California, Washington, Virginia (again), and Pennsylvania (again.)
For the PP who said that only minorities can talk about racism, I have to respectfully, but strongly, disagree.
First...a note about America and racism: folks, it's everywhere. I've only been to the beaches of SC so I can't tell you about the people there, nor would I attempt to disagree with anyone's experiences there as those are your personal experiences and only you would know how good or bad you feel you were treated. But I can tell you about my experiences in other states.
First, I'll start with Pennsylvania. My father's family are closet racists--meaning, they tell racist jokes in the privacy of their own home, but to outsiders don't talk about such things unless they know people and their views, and are "nice" and "polite" to minorities (of all ethnicities) when they encounter them. I happen to find this type of racism the most disturbing. My father somehow grew up the exact opposite of his family. He went off to college, his best friend was black, he scolded his family if he heard racist jokes and threatened my grandmother when she used the "n" word -- he told her that if she EVER used that word in his house, in front of his children, or in front of him again she would no longer be welcome in our house. I never heard her use the word again. My mother's family from PA is the same. VERY racist. They do not have a confederate flag hanging from their pick-up trucks, but they (I would argue) are just as, if not more racist than some of the folks I've met in the south. My roommate (who was black, though she preferred the term "brown") up here in PA would tell me about her experiences at local restaurants and area businesses. I never thought this area was racist until she told me some of the things that happened to her. That's some experiences/people in Pennsylvania.
Virginia: Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Yes, Robert E. Lee is from VA, and believe me, there isn't a person in the state that forgets that. When the city of Richmond had put up flags of historical people tied to the city and the state (they were more like banners of the faces/profiles of historical figures important to VA)--there was an outcry in the city to not include Robert E. Lee. This is the same city that Wilder (the first black governor) is a mayor of. The city put the banner up anyway (along with some other important figures such as Arthur Ashe) -- the result? The banner was burned almost immediately and the city decided to not replace it. While I did grow up in an area that was very diverse and went to the most diversified high school in my county, I was well aware of the racism problems other schools were having. Yes, they did decide to put up the Arthur Ashe center in Richmond, but believe me...not without its controversy and protest from some powerful whites of the city.
California: While I can't give examples of racist behavior that I witnessed or was told about from a black/white perspective, I can tell you the kind of racism and prejudice I witnessed towards Mexican-Americans. The term "dirty mexican" and others I refuse to repeat were used so often I was shocked. Go to southern california and I guarantee that you will witness racism in action.
Texas: I dated someone while I was in the Navy that was from Tx. I went home with him for a couple of weeks for Christmas to meet his family. I've never met a more racist family (see above paragraphs) than his. His town had a "fair" (much like a county fair) put on every year by the KKK and they thought nothing of it. I still think that his father was a member. I met one black person in the town the entire time I was there (this town was so small you could blink and miss it when driving through, so I met just about everyone the time I was there.) His name was John and he introduced himself to me as such, but my BF's dad kept asking me if I met "Buck". I kept saying no, I had no idea who he was talking about until my BF rolled his eyes and told me that Buck was the name his dad had given to John. Why did he call him Buck? Because he was a hunter, and as a buck is the preferred kill of deer hunters, his dad joked (actually JOKED) about wanting the opportunity to shoot this "Buck" right between the eyes and that being the ultimate kill for him--the "prize". I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I literally felt that when we had entered this town, I was somehow thwarted back in time before the Civil War. I was disgusted and horrified because the racism I had seen or witnessed up until that point hadn't been so perverse and direct. Not that the other forms were okay, I still recognized it and tried correcting it whenever I saw the opportunity (I would often get into discussions with family members to try and change their views.) But this was beyond anything I had ever seen. When I got on the plane to get the hell out of there, I never looked back. the BF and I broke it off shortly after once he realized I refused to ever go back there and refused to talk to his father (which made an interesting two weeks to begin with, I couldn't imagine having to see that man again.) OKay, so what is my point?
I guess my point is that if you are in a place long enough, you'll experience just about everything. I guess another point is that just because you don't experience something doesn't mean it isn't there.
I have to say--SC is appealing to me. Why? It's simple. If we just tell everyone not to go there, to go someplace else because it has better racial relations what are we ultimately doing? I consider myself a liberal (no, I don't think it is a bad word--liberals are not ALL like John Edwards or any other stereotype there is). I'm an atheist with very strong opposing views to the fundamentalist christian laws that seem to be in place in SC. The "ole boy's network" disturbs me... so why do I want to go to SC? Because someone has to. If you avoid a place because you disagree with what is going on there, you are ultimately contributing to the problem. If more people that disagreed with the status quo would stay in SC in hopes to eventually change it, then wouldn't it be worth it? Maybe I made a mistake by leaving that town in Tx and not looking back--maybe I should have stayed and tried to change the way many of those people thought. Maybe I shouldn't have condemned the whole state for the experiences I saw (and witnessed) there.
I don't have the answers. But I think if people just left areas they disagreed with, would we have had the Civil War? Would we have the 13th or 14th amendments? Would women be voting? The occasional protests aren't enough. OUR generation has to stick around in some of these places, gain positions of power, and force change. It takes time and unfortunately, it takes patience. But telling people to give up and go elsewhere doesn't change the problem...it will just keep it there longer...won't it?