28 August 2009

Playing the Racist Card:
A Weapon of Mass Delusion

rac·ism (rā'sĭz'əm) n.
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

As the political climate continues to heat up, the singular waste-basket Weapon of Choice by people who can't wrap their heads around what might actually be happening to the United States is "The Race Card." It is a Weapon of Mass Delusion, aided and fueled by the devil we can call Denial.
It has been thrown at me, of course. And to my amusement, it has been thrown at me in various forms, even by members of my own extended family.

I have been trying to come up with the perfect comeback to The Race Card/WMD when it is thrown at me. Of course, there is no perfect comeback, only responses that are satisfying TO ME. My internal response to the accusation: "God knows my heart." Amen. My external response, that I usually say outloud, is "Please provide me with specific examples that pertain to me." No one has been able to respond to that request.

I'd like to present here a specific example of "racism" (prejudice, ethno-centricity, bias, xenophobia, whatever word you want to choose) that occurs in everyday life that no one blinks an eye at. It's my "favorite." When my sons have to fill out a form at school that asks for "race," here are their choices: Asian-Pacific Islander, Native American, African American, Hispanic, and White.

What is wrong with this picture?
Why is this relevant anymore? What is the collected data used for? Why aren't we past this? And what does one pick if they are of mixed race? Why aren't we all simply called "Americans?"

I would ask of those who can't hear or be open to what I present to please not call me a racist, but my pleas won't work. For my mother, who hinted at the possibility I was a racist, I had her look into my eyes and remind her "You raised me. Do you REALLY believe that of me?" I offered the same response to my father, who was rightfully concerned that I was placing myself in an argumentative corner where my identity could become lost within a fruitless endeavor. Thankfully, he believes in who I am and we could engage in very healthy political conversation.

Last summer, well before the General Election when I warned family and friends of signs that the US Constitution was not being supported ( Chicago NPR interview, 6 September 2001), one family member in creatively crafted words basically said I didn't like "certain people of color". The Race Card/WMD had never been thrown at me before in my life before that occasion. All I could do was answer sarcastically that yeah, my whole argument is based on making myself look like a racist. (A sort-of apology was offered later.) Another relative of mine thoroughly believes that my recently adopted state of residence has "ruined" me. Laugh Out Loud with me, will you?

So that leaves me with that "perfect response" dilemma. Do you see? My perfect response can only be to myself. God knows my heart.

And, back to the questionnaire about race choice? My oldest son told me just yesterday that "Other" was a choice, too. He wrote in "Caucasian." And thankfully, God knows his heart.

Racist in the making???

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