I was totally planning to talk about something other than race and racism today. But then I read this post about residential schools and the subsequent fallout in Canada. And it got me thinking about the long term impact of racism on our community and the half life of such a virulent disease. (Some of the comments also pissed me off, but again we’re back to context and respect and I’m just not in the mood today.) And the fact that even though reparations for the descendants of slaves has been a hotly debated topic for years now, no one seems to be willing to make reparations for the effects of racism itself. I’m not even talking about cash (or the famed 40 acres and a mule) moreso I’m thinking of steps being taken to heal the damaged thought processes that have become such a part of our society.
Obviously we can’t change what’s being taught at home. But, what about investing in teaching history properly with all the facts from K-12th grade instead of letting college be the place where people (those who take the right classes and pay attention in them) get a clue about race relations throughout history? Or spending less money on jails and weapons and more on targeted social programs and funding quality schools for all? Access to quality medical care and decent food couldn’t hurt, especially if we stop criminalizing poverty and start trying to eradicate it. There is so much that could be done to actually level the playing field and benefit everyone. Racism (and the other ‘isms) will destroy society if left unchecked so let’s vaccinate our children.
Mind you, none of these ideas are new and none of them are going to fix what’s wrong right here and right now. But, if we took a long term view and we set a stage for our kids where diplomacy and respect trumped “Those people are all X” and “We have to protect our way of life” then just maybe 200 years from now there won’t be a need for conversations about whether or not people forced into schools dedicated to destroying their culture and their language were abused “enough” to qualify for reparations. Possibly we could be a society that doesn’t think assimilation is the key to success. Maybe (and I know this is a big maybe) we could stop bigotry before it starts and really turn this into a post-racial, post-classist, post-sexist society?