Legendary French comics artist, Jean “Mœbius” Giraud once said, ” I believe racism to be something like a biological message. It is the expression of a fear which stems from our instinct for the preservation of our racial and cultural integrity. What makes racism so ugly, however, is the way in which this message expresses itself, with hate and violence. I believe that there is room for preserving that integrity, while allowing for a harmonious mix of the races. I don’t think the two should ever be opposed. But in order for that concept to become commonly accepted, I am afraid that we will have to experience much more suffering, refusal, and stupidity. We, unfortunately, all have a sleeping bigot inside us.” He was absolutely right. Often, when you least expect it, you encounter the vile poison that is racism. Just as my drawing states, you think you know someone, and then BOOM, they open their mouth, and out falls a big ugly gob of racism. When it happens, it’s so quick that you don’t have time to react. You’re totally caught off guard. It usually comes from someone that puts up a facade, and who hides their racism behind a warm pleasant smile.
Recently, I had to deal with this. Yes, I was caught off guard, and I didn’t really handle it the way I should have. The remark wasn’t aimed at me per se, but was more a general statement aimed at people who this person believes receive government aid because of the color of their skin. It was disgusting to have to hear such a thing; just when you think you know someone, you realize that you don’t. The old adage, still waters run deep,” never rang more true than in this one instance. Racism is bad enough, but silent racism is even worse. Unfortunately, when something like this happens, it changes your whole view of the person uttering it. I, personally, no longer feel comfortable around this person knowing that they say one thing and think another. I promised myself that I would call the person on it if it ever happens again. When you don’t say something about it to them, it’s the equivalent of condoning what they do. I’m too old for this type of bullshit. I don’t have time for people who conceal their racist thoughts behind a fake toothy smile.
The one thing that gives me hope is what I see happening with the newer generations, Millennials and subsequent. They’re more open minded than previous generations before them. In many ways, I identify with the newer generation who truly sees beyond the barriers that have hindered all of the previous generations that came before them. I’d like to think that this change started with my generation, Generation X. My generation is where the transition started; we took what the Baby Boomers did in the sixties and seventies and started moving away from the old beliefs that had been in place for generations. It wasn’t until The Millennials that things really started to change; that change has continued with the current generation. As this change occurs, people from older generations that could never get past things like racism are slowly dying off along with their backwards ideas. Despite the hope that I see in the new generation, we still have a long way to go. Racism still rears it’s ugly head here in the United States. Last week, nine innocent members of a South Carolina church were gunned down in cold blood because of racist hate. Racism and gun violence are cancers that are eating away at the fabric of this country. It makes me ashamed to say that I’m an American. After the slaughter of twenty innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary we were unable to do anything to start the ball rolling in the right direction; if the killing of twenty innocent children failed to make us take action then we are basically a nation without a conscience. We’ve become accustomed to the hate, carnage and blood. We’re desensitized to these events — they’ve become the norm. They happen, we talk about them for a week or so, and then we forget them until the next incident. Our country is permanently stained by the blood of all the victims that have lost their lives at the hands of hate and gun violence. When will we ever learn that hate and violence are not the answer?