The gym is filled with kids. The entire student bodies of the three schools that make up North Eugene High are in the bleachers. I keep hearing the words of a Face Book “friend” telling me what a joke it was that I’ve been invited to be the keynote speaker at an assembly about racism.
A few hours later at Sheldon High School I’m at a smaller assembly but the message is quite similar.
Kids from different cultures talk about how people still put them down for being “Mexicans.” A young African American told of how he has to try much harder to do the same things his white counter parts have to do.
I am not an expert on racism but I am an expert on the effects of labeling. Racism and Labeling are distant cousins.
Labeling is still accepted while racism is something no one wants to admit to. So, that is what I talked about. I learned a long time ago only to talk about what I know.
Hate is hate and it comes from racism or from labeling. Both are created to prevent relationship and put our differences above similarities. Both are prisons that aim to keep the bickering alive and prevent us from ever hearing the other side.
The white culture gets tired of hearing about racism but from what I heard yesterday we’ve got nothing to complain about.
I have great hope after yesterday’s assemblies with kids. I don’t think the world will change because of what was said but I think some people’s worlds were shaken.
I can’t change the mind of the guy who tells me I can’t speak about racism but I can ignore his attempts to label me and use that anger as a tool for change.
And so I did and in many ways should thank the naysayers and the labelers for helping me speak the truth. The truth will set people free but you have to be willing to shut your mouth and listen to find that freedom.
Powered by Facebook Comments