From the time I was a very young child, with a sense of self-awareness, I’ve tried to be an observer of all that’s around me. Oftentimes, I think I’ve been good at connecting to my surrounding, but at other times, I think I’ve been caught up in them, not objectively discerning as well as I would’ve wished. One venue I use regularly for observing life is the Tavis Smiley show, which comes on the Public Television Network. I’ve found this to be one of, if not the best of its kind when it comes to presenting the stories of normal people doing extra-ordinary things in their lives. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Tavis interview Joe Morgan, the actor who plays Olivia’s daddy on the TV show Scandal. Morgan was talking about a one-person play he’s doing where he’s portraying the late Dick Gregory, comedian and social activist. Morgan talks about the absurdity Gregory saw in racism. One scene in the play has Morgan portraying Gregory asking to be served in a restaurant, during the times of segregation. Gregory approaches a white waitress and asks for service. The waitress proceeds to let him know that they don’t serve Negroes. Gregory is quick to let her know that that’s okay, because he doesn’t eat Negroes. The absurdity of racism is made very clear in humor.
Racism, sexism, ageism, racial superiority, and all forms of derogatory considerations used to separate other human beings from the premier quality of human existence is absurd. The environment in our country has grown ripe for allowing discrimination and hatred to poke their ugly heads from beneath the cover of political correctness. Political correctness has been that weak coat of behavior-modifying varnish that causes embarrassment in polite circles of one who might use a racial slur. It’s been active for the last few decades or so, but it’s been ineffective at ridding our society of the deep-seated hatred of those who don’t look like us, or don’t conform to our concept of what we should all look or behave like. The absurdity of looking at another human being and considering them less than a creature made in the image of God is sick.
Many of us have seen ads critical of racism, where small children of different races are playing together, and the caption reads something like, “none of us is born to hate.” The meaning, of course, is that at some point in the socialization process these precious little ones are taught to look at another human being and consider them to be less than members of their social group. There is no empirical evidence to support that conclusion. That person isn’t the same color, isn’t of the same religious group, or somehow isn’t quite like members of my family, community, or subculture. Because of that, they don’t deserve the same amount of respect I have to give to all human beings. Isn’t that absurd?
I look at you and you look at me and all I see is an image that’s been painted by someone else; an image that doesn’t exist. Neither of us chooses to take the time to see each other for who we are as an individual, who might be more like us than not. The absurdities in how we interact, or choose to not interact with each other hold all of us back from enjoying a supportive and peaceful existence.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.