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Smoke gets in your eyes…

By Richard Myers
Posted: 09/07/2020
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I grew up in Louisiana in the 40s and 50s. Deep south, racism. Racism was everywhere. It was common and ordinary. Racist tropes and language were used easily and comfortably in polite society.

But I grew up with Black people all around me. They were in my homes, everywhere I went, In stores, and on the streets. They were familiar. I knew them…  as individuals, with personalities.

In that place and time, racism permeated everything, and it is soaked into my head. It was like the smoke in a smoke-filled room that gets into your clothes, your hair, your eyes, and your lungs. You smell of smoke when you leave. But you’re not a smoker.

Living in that world, I knew and absorbed all the tropes and stereotypes about black people; lazy, shiftless, ignorant, unreliable, etc.

But I knew many black people. I met them and worked with them, alongside them. In all my life, and all the black people I have ever met throughout my many years, I have never met a single one who fit the stereotype. Not a single one in all those years.

One doesn’t have to be very smart to notice a disconnect between what you have been told and what you have seen with your own eyes. All it takes is to think about what you’re seeing and hearing and experiencing directly to know that there is something wrong.

It is time to acknowledge this disconnect, and the significance of it, and to get the smoke out of our clothes and hair and eyes and lungs.

 - Dick -

Tagged as racism
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