Racism doesn’t exist.
At least it didn’t in my little world as a child. Even today I try to stay in my little bubble but sometimes it’s not so easy.
I grew up in a small agricultural community called McFarland where the population was primarily Hispanic. Since Mexicans were the majority, to us racism was something we joked about because we didn’t really know what it was.
When you grow up with people who are the same, shop at the same places, go to the same churches, know the same people, you thrive in the differences. Differences excite you. Racism is something you read about, not something you experience.
We’d say the gabachos (white kids) were the minority, not us. This was, of course, while not fully understanding just exactly what a “minority” was. To me it meant, “less in quantity.”
Unfortunatley, experience has led me to the actual definition of what minority truly means, the definition, I’ve learned can mean different things to different cultures, in some cases it can even mean, “lesser than.”
It could mean a group of people you dont want to belong to, someone you dont want to be.
When you’re a minority you get treated a tad bit different. Sometimes it’s not by much. It’s hardly noticeable. Other times it’s so blatant that it’s insulting.
Like the time I took my kids to the craft store, Color Me Mine. I was ignored while the white lady with her matching jumpsuit and Dooney and Bourke bag was getting the Royal treatment.
Was it because of the way I looked?
It happened at the Marketplace where most of the women walking around are Barbie replicas. Did I not look like I belonged with my 5ft, 135 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes, in my $5.99 Susie’s Deal’s outfit? Did I not get treated right because I wasn’t wearing $200 jeans? Or because my kids weren’t wearing Gap?
Or was it because I am Mexican?
I always try to shrug it off as, “Oh, she just had a bad day.” Or “They just have bad customer service skills. I’m sure they are like that with everyone.” When somebody tries to tell me it’s because I’m Mexican, I try to explain to them they are wrong. Times have changed and there’s no such thing as racism.
When my son was in the 8th grade he and a few friends stayed the night at another friend’s house after a school dance. The next morning he tells me that around midnight they decided to walk to the store to get some fried burritos from a mini mart.
As they were walking they got stopped by the police. They were told to sit on the sidewalk and were asked one by one for their names. They were breaking curfew, but other than that, they weren’t doing anything illegal.
My son was really insulted at the way he was treated but I tried to explain to him that it was justified. Even though they weren’t doing anything wrong they were BREAKING CURFEW!
He says that the cop asked each of them their first names and age. When the cop got to my son he asked him to stand up. He took a picture of him to keep in his files and he asked him for his full name and address. He also asked him what they were doing out and a few other questions. My son complied.
They were driven back to his friend’s house, where they talked to the parents. Everything checked out so the kids were released to them.
My son was confused as to why out of all six kids that were with him, he was the only treated like a hoodlum and questioned like a common criminal. He just couldn’t understand why he was treated so rudely while his friends were treated so courteously.
He said he thought it was because he was the only Mexican in the group.
“There is no such thing as racism anymore. That’s a thing of the past,” I found myself explaing to my thirteen year old son. “Maybe it was just that you looked like you were up to something, while they didn’t.”
Sometimes it’s much easier to try to convince him and others than it is to convince myself.