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Are you racist?

by Ron Holdraker
March 19, 2022

Of course you are not!

But wait, there are signs that perhaps, overall, we Americans are just a bit racist.

When the Ukrainian conflict began, we did our utmost to support the conflict. Numerous posts, governmental and private agencies, people, churches and civic groups jumped on the bandwagon. Several million Ukraine refugees fled to nearby countries where they were accepted with open arms. Oh sure, there were stories popping up that some Asians, African families and students of different colors treated like second and third class humans, but hey, overall people who looked a lot like the local people were graciously welcomed.

Even the U.S. government opened their arms the Ukrainian refugees coming across the border from Mexico.

After all, these people looked a lot like the current majority of Americans...White. These poor people were escaping brutality, killings, savage conditions, destruction of their way of life.

Damn, we gotta take them in and show them the American generosity and way of life. Yup, let them in at the Mexican border and we will sort out the mayhem and backgrounds for fleeing later.

Hmm, wait a minute!

Last week a fleeing Latino mother and her family, a family escaping the brutality of several South American countries, called this racist. She and her family have been waiting for months after death alleged threats followed them trying to escape to the land of milk and honey. They were stuck south of the border, while Ukraine families passed through.

You have to admit those Hispanics, considered somewhat white, are a different breed, therefore more suspicious and really undeserving of acceptance. At least these more Anglo-looking  Eastern Europeans would make better neighbors. Sure, we don’t understand their language and customs, but they are, well, pure whitish.

At this point I will admit I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, all white school district. My neighbors, except for one quasi-Italian family, had either English, or German like names and all was well in the world.

The only Black revelations came in shocking riots in Rochester, or from racist family members living deep in the City of Rochester. Once in a while you saw a Black person on television, but they always spoke White.

When I needed braces -  no I was not perfect - our dentist had an office in the Temple building in downtown Rochester. Once in awhile I would skip the bus ride home and walk all the way to Irondequoit. That meant walking through then-changing Black neighborhoods. Was a I a bit apprehensive? You bet! I did not know how to handle walking near a Black person, or group. Should I cross the street to avoid getting harassed, or even (gulp) physically confronted? Remember, the only contact I had with the Black race was on TV news and shows with kindly Black faces that talked...White.

Even in my college days, it was mostly lily white and safe. I was one of two students who took a Black History Course at Syracuse University. The Black teacher gave me a final grade of ‘C’, not because I didn’t understand the course and do the assignments. He told me right out that the grade was because “I would never really understand what it was like to be Black.” He was probably right.

After college I worked at vastly white workplaces and even to this day really don’t have any Black friends. Oh sure, the occasional Black person crosses paths with me, but as friends, or just acquittances. Once while working as a gopher (Go for ...whatever) at WHEC, channel 10, I handled the phones as the newscast played. A young Black newscaster was on and a caller called to complain. “Get that nigger off the air.” I told the guy to shut up, with more words to follow at which point he disliked my reply and wanted to talk to a manager. I just hung up on him.

I was brought up differently. Although we lived an all-white life, I knew better.

Still, the number of Black people ever entering my house today, except for workers and delivery persons, is next to nil.

Of course in the law and order pages in this paper, Black criminals seem to be prevalent, but, in reality, far more white faces appear.  We just have a tendency to see Black as a negative. I have never really feared talking to, or being with Black people, but to this day I still have very little interaction, or opportunity.

Does this make me racist? The numbers of Blacks, or other minorities is still very low in the Town of Walworth. This is the product of generations of quasi-slavery and economic opportunity that still exists in our society. I have to admit, I really don’t know about being Black.

Ask yourself this question: Would I rather have a Ukrainian family move next door, or that Hispanic lady on the news with her family waiting south of the border?

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