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Now I know, better

Than ever, why you exist.

(Tyranny, Militia, and the like)

 

So, my question becomes

What will be my weapon

Of choice: Poetry

or an AR-15?

 

This morning I laced-up

My Doc Martens.

Your mother wears combat boots.

Oniel’s Car Service: Excellence at Every Turn!

“Baltimore is a beautiful city. The trouble with Baltimore is the people.” ~ Oniel

Agony means something

Different to each person,

Who sprays the word

With intentional black strokes

On the overpass.

 

The Congressman Who Drives the Cab

Gliding through Baltimore, he says,

Voice thick with African French

and a London education, “What

you guys take

for granted, is luxury

to me.”

I was a naive girl. I grew up on military bases from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Fort Dix, New Jersey, which may have been some of the most racially egalitarian places in the country. Military bases often are. My neighborhood was diverse, but at the time I didn’t recognize that. Kids were kids. We all played together, went to each others birthday parties, snuck kisses behind trees, never paying attention to the color of each others skin.

Our neighborhoods were divided by military rank, so our dads were all Green Berets, or Drill Sergeants, or Rangers. We didn’t care much about that either.

I remember first learning about the United States’ history of intolerance in school: slavery, civil rights and racism. I thought how terrible things were back then. I believed that I lived in a time when people were equal. That racism was a thing of the past. I, of course, was wrong.

Although in the last week our country made strides towards equality with the Supreme Court decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, it also backslid as well. Reminders of just how much racism is alive and well littered our television screens and social media. The SCOTUS decision striking down key aspects of the Voting Rights Act, reactions to the Paula Deen scandal, the George Zimmerman trial and its launching of social media vitriol against witness Rachel Jenteal are all evidence that this country is not sure about its position on just what makes something “racist” and if what to if something is deemed so.

I recently posted a Facebook status questioning the motivation of a woman in my small, New Hampshire town wildly flying a large confederate flag from the back of her pick-up truck. The responses I got clearly reflected an ambiguity about what makes something “racist.” A distinct dichotomy was present in the responses of my friends, who saw the flag as either a symbol of racial intolerance or as a symbol of southern pride.

As an American, I believe in freedom of expression. I would never take away another citizen’s right to display the confederate flag on his personal property or self. However, a person who makes the lifestyle choice to display that symbol must accept the fact that to thousands of other human beings it is an offensive one – even to other white Southerners. I know, because I’ve discussed it with some of them.

Even if the intentions of those displaying the flag are not overtly racist, the displayer must understand that to many the flag is a painful reminder of a time when the systematic oppression of others simply due to the color of their skin was an acceptable part of sustaining a good economy.  And no amount of revisionist history attempting to edit out the significance of slavery as one of the root causes of the Civil War is going to change that.

People like Paula Deen and George Zimmerman may have been raised in times or places where racism was just part of what the adults around them passed on, but they currently live in 2013. A time when they should know better.

For years church groups have attempted to send young gay people to “straight camps” to try and work the gay out of them. These have been failures, as being gay is a natural part of a human being, not a lifestyle choice as many believed. Fortunately, this practice is fast becoming a thing of the past as evidenced by the recent apology by Exodus International and the organization’s announcement that it will be shutting down its “pray away the gay” ministries.

Perhaps anti-racism camps could take the place of closing straight camps.  Unlike being gay, being racist is a trait that is learned, a lifestyle choice, and, therefore, can be cured. This somewhat naive girl still believes that.