Each day I see more and more examples of racism both online and in the news. I feel as if we have suddenly been thrown back in time to a place where minorities have no voice, women are expected to be silent and men rule the country. It is as if some fog has covered this country that I love so dearly and people are losing their perspectives. I feel as if they are grasping for straws and remembering a time when our economy would not collapse and leave us all in dire circumstances and somehow believe that by jumping back in time they can have some semblence of control. I continue to see racist statements and actions that not only shock me, but disgust me.
At first I thought maybe it was simply lack of acceptance of having a black President. But then I realized it was a much deeper, darker reality. It is citizens of this country being ambushed with extremism at every turn. Once you hear something reported often enough you begin to buy into it and can no longer determine truth from fiction. More and more discussions of conspiracies and talk of the U.N. stepping in and taking control of the country go on every day. Fear of the unknown is at an all time high and imaginations go wild.
Instead of getting wrapped up in these extreme viewpoints, I decided to take a step back and attempt to figure out what was happening. Our nation has faced a dire situation so bad that our economy almost completely collapsed when the housing bubble burst. Those in the know did not even realize how bad it was until shortly before President Bush was ready to leave office and after President Obama took office the full view of how dire things were became apparent. When the reality hit and discussions about economic failure, bank runs and complete collapse began circulating, a panic set in.
Where would we be if our economy collapsed? The dollar would have no value, everything we all worked for would be worthless. We may not even be able to feed our families. So as I contemplated all of this- which is definitely enough to make your head spin. I began to see where the hate was actually coming from. It was being directed at our President because he is now the man in charge. Someone had to be blamed and he quickly became the scapegoat. Now let's add to that the fact that he is a black man and voila! Racism raises its ugly head and the hate grows.
So what if he had been of Irish or German descent? I believe that the anger would have grown in the same way, but it would have been directed toward whatever lineage the president brought with him to the White House. But why is it so extreme? According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups have increased by 66% since 2000. Why are the number of hate groups growing? There are already hate groups against blacks, so blaming a black President just added fuel to the fire. Add to that the number of gay hate groups growing as gay marriage issues come up on local ballots and you have an increasing growth of hate against issues that are not readily accepted by some groups of society.
So next we move forward to the fear of U.N. intervention. Where does this come from and why is it becoming an everyday topic on social networking sites? The fear of how close we came to economic collapse looms in our minds, hate groups are increasing and the fear of an uncertain future is prominent in our daily activities. So if we were so close to losing control over our economy, what would happen next? Something, but what? Well, of course the U.N. would have to come in and take over, right? This thought process seems very unclear until you take a closer look and connect all of the dots. It made me wonder if this was a preconceived plan and it was put into action or if it was simply how the dominoes fell.
We all see the price at the pump for gasoline and it takes a huge toll on every American household. When we have to choose between food and medications or making it to work, we become angry. As the economic impact of rising prices affects us, we look for answers. Instead we are bombarded with political ads telling us the President caused these increases. Most Americans do not have thorough understanding of economics and when they are spoonfed answers to their woes, they believe what they hear. The anger continues to grow and opposing political views seem to offer answers for relief. Get rid of the President.
But wait a minute. Have we all forgotten who was in charge when this bubble burst? It was not that long ago that Bush Jr. was in office and on television encouraging banks to lend, lend, lend. The economy was thriving from the housing market and we thought we were sitting pretty. We must all take a moment to remember that the housing bubble burst under the watch of President Bush. We also need to remember that he was the one that signed the first bailout bill. As discussions are held reminding people of these concrete facts, anger rages. No one wants a scapegoat, they want to hold someone responsible. They are already angry and instead of seeing good in what has been accomplished, they simply lay blame at the feet of President Obama.
I guess the biggest question would be, what do we do now? In my mind this answer is very simple. Engage in conversations about reality and the progress we are making as a nation. We cannot look back, because that simply creates more anger and is perceived as looking for blame in the previous Presidency. We must focus on the economic facts at hand that show signs of improvement along with moves made in the political arena that are intended to prevent us from getting into a situation like the housing bubble again. If we are able to begin conversations that are driven by positive information, hope for the future and a belief that we are a nation on the mend we can begin to unwind this tangled knot created from the fear of collapse.
We are then left with the issue of racism. We have a black president. Our nation has come to a place where equal rights for minorities and women are eroding and equality is becoming less and less prevalent. The fear of the unknown fuels the fire for increased anger, hate and racism. We must take steps to slow down and eventually put out this fire that is raging in the belly of our nation. We must each stand up and voice our opinions about the direction we are going and show support for improvements. Regardless of who is in office, we must unite as a nation and work together instead of splitting even further apart.
When you look at a person for the first time, what do you see? Height, weight, sex, eye color and skin color. What do YOU notice first? For me it is their eyes. Do they look me directly in the eye while they are talking to me? Do they stand tall and speak clearly. Skin color is not relevant to me- I value integrity. But what about those that see the color of someone's skin first and immediately jump to preconceived conclusions? If they see a cleancut white man, they assume he is an upstanding citizen. (Sure, like Bundy.) If they see a black man in a suit, what do they see? I asked several people this question and to my surprise their answer was that they saw someone who was given a chance for a better life. Seriously? What if he came from a very affluent middle class family? They said, well, that could happen too.
This makes me worry daily about the realities about racism and fear for our future as a country. If we are not able to look at person and see them for who they are inside, aren't we missing some extremely important information? I say we are and I sincerely hope I am not alone in this belief. As the election draws closer, I truly fear for us all. As this rage continues we will see more and more brazen statements and hate continuing to grow. Unless.... Unless we are able to focus on the good we see and discuss the improvements in our economy, show appreciation for all of the positive changes in health care access and credit card reform. We must express our pride in regulations being placed on Wall Street. If we are able, as a nation, to shift our discussions from the fear and anger to the positive changes we have seen, our future is set on a path toward a huge explosion. I am afraid.
Nothing is more frustrating to me than people refusing to see their own racist feelings. If you say someone is expressing racist opinions, they simply tell you that you are displacing your own racial discrimination on them. This happens time and time again. Refusal to see the problem only increases the severity of the fallout. Our country has fought too long and too hard to reach equality for all of its' citizens. We cannot allow it to slide backwards again.
My greatest hope is that as a nation, we are able to pull together and overcome this neverending sense of gloom. We need to band together and focus on the issues and stop being pulled to the side by arguing. We must come together on the issues we all agree need to be addressed and save the fighting for after we have seen these mutually agreed upon issues resolved. We must end the fear and focus on the hope that we can leave a better World for our children and grandchildren.
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