Breaking Chains

The things that held me back in life were like chains.  They were painful things like lost love, divorce, an abusive childhood.  I had disappointments that many of my dreams would never be fulfilled.  My childhood was difficult, I felt ridiculed, bullied and at times, lonely.  At times, these things felt as if they were wrapped around me, binding me tightly. Like a big stone around my neck, holding me down.

When I look back on my childhood, my teen years, and now my adult life, I clearly see racism was part of what held me back.  Racism was a like a chain that not only bound me, but affected everyone around me.  Over the years, I have worked to break myself free of racism. 

For part of my life, I lived and grew up in a predominantly black community. My neighbors were black, my friends were black, I fought with black kids, I dated black girls. Yet, my father, an immigrant to this country, was prejudiced and racist.

I can not explain, and will not attempt to reason out, why he was was so racist, yet, my father experienced the same discrimination throughout his life as most blacks, and by his account, sometimes worse.

I know that racism was ingrained in me, from a very early age. I was not born a racist, I was taught to be a racist, it was the environment I grew up in.  Here in the south, children were segregated by races. We went to different schools, lived in different neighborhoods, we even had a beach for blacks. Yes, this occurred in my lifetime, in my community.

The opportunity to succeed was dictated by the color of your skin. Upward mobility was not based on one's knowledge, intelligence, or ability. Racism was all around me while growing up. Black people noticed the blatant racism. But, if you were not a person of color, you probably never gave it a second thought.  Being half white and half Asian, I clearly saw how society treated people of color.

Most whites were completely unaware of the privilege they enjoyed, or the opportunities that were available to them because of their skin color. Many of the privileges that are still enjoyed today.  Some display unearned arrogance, based purely on the fact of privilege.

I could fill a book on the many situations I have experienced during my life. Sometimes I would fight back, other times I would let it go. It was hard to ignore, but I would try to ignore it and pretend it did not exist. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to conform.  It is what we all want.

I struggled with this demon for years.  Trying to figure it out.  How to overcome something I did not fully understand.  Could it be my fault?

I came to the conclusion that the only way racism was going to have power over me, is if I allowed it to. I began to understand that racism is really ignorance. A really evil form of ignorance. To hate another person because of the way they looked, or where they were from, things that we have no control over, was just not right.  Racism is the most hideous form of ignorance because it attempts to project a persons insecurities and fears, in the form of hatred, onto another,  the idea of superiority based solely on ones skin color.  It is easy to feel better about yourself if you are stepping on someone else.

My understanding of this knowledge allowed me to break the chains of racism.  

Although some of us are still wrapped in chains, chains put on us by our parents, experiences and society,  I have hope.  I have observed signs that society is changing, young people are not as concerned with race as the older generations.  Progress comes slowly, especially here in the south. 

The chains that bind us and hold us, also fool us, because they give us security from a scary world.  To escape them, it takes courage. 

Amantcul Amantcul
56-60, M
Dec 11, 2012