A word on racism
Past week was United Nations day.The point of this holiday is to celebrate our heritage, to bring conformity, to create unity among a species which finds the very notion difficult.It is a holiday meant to put aside differences and to reach out to those next to you.
To take their hands and with them lead forward into a place where those among us can be treated as equals.
That was the reason for the hands. There were so many hands; each a different color, pasted all over the walls, the table, the pillar holding up the ceiling in the small lounge area. Each one bore a name. As I walked past, on my way to a class to which I was desperately late, I passed a table. At that table sat five or so students, each with a hand, each writing their name as well as their race upon it.
“Come, make a hand!” the girl at the table cheerily ordered me as she passed me a limp cardboard cutout of an appendage. I shook my head.
At that I got an odd look. It was as if she were wondering, ‘why wouldn’t someone want to make one of these?’ She was puzzled, but persistent. She shoved the hand toward me again and I bristled. Not the best move, but involuntary.
“I said I don’t want to make one.” I turned my shoulder. I tried my best to convey with my body language, my eyes, my tone of voice, that I would not be swayed. She frowned. Scowled almost.
“You must be some kind of racist. Whatever.”
“Give me that.” I grabbed at the cardboard cutout almost fiercely. I sat at the table, pulled an assortment of markers toward me, and began writing. To hell with being late to class. I didn’t care anymore.
It took me but seconds to finish the hand and to give it back to the girl. She frowned at me once again.
“This isn’t what you’re supposed–”
“–I have a right to have it up there just like everyone else.”
She shrugged. It seemed she sensed she had lost the argument. She took the hand and stapled it to a sheet of blue paper hanging on the wall. I found then, and only then, that I was disgusted by the whole principle.
How is it, as a society, that the things that are supposed to make us the same turn out to make us different? It was that factor alone that disgusted me. Those hands were meant to bring us together, but instead they merely focused on our differences. Black. White. Hispanic. We are not color blind. We have an innate ability to separate. To label as good or bad the color of one’s skin. On a holiday meant to represent unity, we were instead separating ourselves.
That was the reason I made my hand different. The reason I ignored the boundaries and instead labeled the hand with something that the girl considered to be ‘racist’. The reason I chose to be equal. After all, how are we to be equal if we only focus on the things that make us unequal? It should not be the color of one’s skin but the quality of that person that makes each unique.
That hand said only one thing.