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Ponder for a moment definition of racism

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Holly Audette
Columnist

Monday, June 19, 2017

The definition of racism according to Cambridge Dictionary is, “the belief that people's qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races”.

Ponder that for a moment. Make a list in your head of qualities you believe you have or qualities you believe another has and ask yourself whether they are attributable to race. Perhaps you believe for example you are artistic, honest, intelligent, athletic-do you believe your race is the reason you have these qualities?

I am of the strong opinion that anyone who sees life through a prism of race will limit themselves in life and anyone who influences a community with this view limits that community. I am not talking about cultural pride or interest in one’s ancestry, I am talking about seeing a separation or a distinction from others not limited to just a physical distinction, based on race.

Racial politics pervades our culture like a stink. No matter how you try to ignore it, mask it, avoid it or deny it, the fact is it is there and it affects quality of life. This community has long been affected by the issue of race. You cannot be the very best you can be when populations believe and institutions reflect that some persons should be advantaged or disadvantaged over others based on what is a physical distinction. The fact we are a community with beautiful people who have physical distinctions should be a great asset.

So when I read a headline in the local paper reflecting a position by three black council people with a history of viewing so many governing issues through a primary prism of race, complaining about one of many grants given by the City in an effort to improve business opportunity here, I want to take a closer look. The business is owned by a female entrepreneur who has a niche business serving the wedding industry. Instead of applauding this young woman’s initiative, Councilmen Walton, Horton and Brooks took issue with this particular grant that by all accounts met the program standards to qualify. Councilman Brooks voiced concern about the fact this applicant’s father supported Mayor Peel for Mayor.

Interestingly, I don’t recall the support of other grant recipients being scrutinized on the basis of who their relatives support politically. Some of them likely supported Mayor Peel and some just as strongly as this candidate’s relative. Would the complaining about this application have occurred if this relative supported these three council members favored candidate for Mayor? Is that a reasonable consideration for the grant? Why was this candidate uniquely subjected to this political scrutiny when no other applicant has been?

I don’t think it is a stretch to conclude the issue of race played a pervasive role in the complaints. I believe it is particularly offensive to these men that a black man would choose to support Mayor Peel. Somehow there is an obligation based on color of skin to support who they deem the better candidate. These council members demonstrate this same attitude toward Councilman Ricky King who is often treated with disdain by these men. Councilman King has a law enforcement background and I have frequently discussed with him the influence this has on his council votes in contrast with colleagues who see race as the primary consideration.

I was recently challenged in a political discussion by a black person who finally told me I would never understand poverty because I have white privilege. I was outraged this person would assume anything about my life on the basis of color of skin. Isn’t that kind of truly ignorant assumption exactly what blacks claim so offends them about stereotypes wrongly attributed to them based on what they look like? The facts of my life include living six years in a public orphanage. Having a roommate whose parents high on LSD thought she was a ham and burned her as an infant in a frying pan. Never having a new outfit for school and taking a brown bag with nothing other than bread and butter. Seeing my siblings only at brief organized times, returning for three straight mornings to the same bowl of cream of rice cereal that gagged me, literally.

Insisting on race allegiance, judging a person’s life experiences based merely on skin color perpetuates the excuse to see people as valuable or valueless based on what they look like. It is racism, plain and simple. Never justified and always holding a community back. It is way past time to reject it wholesale — no matter who insists we continue to play in that ballpark.

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