We have come a long way with defeating racism in this country. People of all races are harmed in ways they don’t see by not having friends of all races. Sounds dumb? Touchy feely? Bear with me. Ebony and Ivory in perfect harmony— but we have an ebony church and a lily white church when we worship the same God on Sundays. We don’t hang out. There are conversations we don’t have. I was in the military—centuries ahead of anyone in racial integration because it needs to be a meritocracy. My high school was racially integrated because it was a magnet school, and people came from all over to go to it. My biggest and most eye opening experience was when I had a mere taste of what it was like to be a minority. Let me paint you a picture:
I am in a high school with a mediocre swimming program. I have talent but I’m not Michael Phelps, I am good enough if I work hard I can find a college that would pay tuition to have me swim. Mom and Dad told me the only way I am going to college is on scholarship. I need to find a good AAU team with which to train if I want to get a scholarship so I can go to a college. I live in the inner city, South Philly. All of the good teams are in the suburbs—where the nice facilities are, where every high school has a pool, tennis courts and an occasional golf course. That is, every team except one—-but there is a catch.
More shootings occurred at Broad and Hunting Park than anywhere else in Philly. This is because of the projects. In an urban renewal effort, part of the projects were demolished and a state of the art swimming facility was installed two blocks west. It is where the team swims.
I was the only white kid on an African American swim team. You may have heard about this team. Years before my time, the creation of the team was a storied Herculean effort by one driven great man. It was hard because of, among other challenges, the myth. The team won a championship. Bernie Mac starred in a movie about it called “Pride.”
Some may say there are many racial myths, I would say there is just one: that racial differences matter when it comes to ability. “White men can’t jump” for example. The form of the myth I am speaking about, the idea that black people can’t swim.
This was a good team. I barely kept up despite my “whiteness.” With the training I got from this team I did win a swimming scholarship, but not to a school I wanted to attend. I eventually went to college with an academic scholarship through the navy.
The myth comes from people making bad assumptions. It seems obvious that there aren’t more black swimmers because there are not facilities where black people live, and there aren’t many black swimming role models. There are plenty of basketball hoops though. Ethiopia produces many marathon runners, but not many skii jumpers—-imagine that. It seems obvious, but the myth continues. It is a damaging myth. It is the myth behind the “master race” and final solution of the Nazi’s and white supremists, behind Planned Parenthood, slavery, and modern liberalism. Why does the myth continue?
THE BUS RIDE
There is sense in which I placed out of high school swimming and swam in college while in high school. My AAU high school swimming team had meets with small colleges, and usually won. I attended one away meet, with Howard University.
Let me set the scene. I arrive at 5am on a saturday morning, ride the bus 3 hours to Washington DC, have an all day swimming meet with an African American college, ride back. The whole time, as one of my swimming buddies put it, I am “a spark in the night.” I didn’t grasp at the time what a life changing, formative experience this would be— and nothing earth shattering really happened, just doing life together. It is hard to put a handle on it, just a million little things:
–music played and everybody danced. When I danced “Wow white people dance too” I heard. I am awful, but it didn’t matter— It helped that I had a certain naive quality where I didn’t know I was awful. I asked if they really thought white people didn’t dance, they said that they thought white people worked and studied all the time. Some one tried to teach me how to “pop,” the name of the dance at the time. I sure was entertaining to watch, I was the center of attention. We laughed and laughed. It occurred to me that my black friends did alot better job making me welcome in this 1 day trek into minority status than I and my friends did with black friends who walked that dog every day.
Swimming meets have alot of down time with travel, time between events, and so on. We all brought our school books to do homework. A friend came to me for help on his homework. I am a math nerd and will spare you the cool stuff we worked on, elementary functions and beginning calculus. The troubling part was my friend didn’t so much need help as he needed confidence. He thought he couldn’t do it himself. He was on the right track and gave up early. He thought this way because that is what other black people he admired told him. He thought I could help him because I was white. Every time I showed him something it really set him back. He would compliment me, tell me how smart white people were. I got into a bizaare conversation with him where I was the one telling him black people were as smart as white people. You know, ironically, I lost the argument to a smarter kid— who was convinced he was the dumber kid. His argument? If black people weren’t dumber, why did they have so many programs to help them? He had specific examples and it was a long bus ride, but the one that stands out is colleges, as we were both seniors and looking at colleges. He had got admitted to a really good college that had offered him alot of aid because of his race. He thought he should go to a black college with much lower academic standards, because he reasoned there is no way he could make it at a white college.
OJ SIMPSON AND O BAMA
The myth has prevailed, and has damaged the country. The few people affirmative action has temporarily helped has been at the expense of, as Bernie Mac’s movie calls it, “Pride”
It has put every person of color in an assumed inferior status.
There is something about the OJ Simpson case most white people never learned, despite wall to wall coverage. Most black people knew he was guilty. They thought he deserved special treatment because of the myth.
Obama is a horrible president who does very little good but can do no wrong to some, because of the myth.
The only affirmative action that will kill the myth is good people taking an affirmative action to step out and get to know on a personal level people of different races. Every government program that provides favoritism to a race is approving that race’s inferiority.
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