No child is born racist or evil, they have to be taught

There was an ad that use to play on AFN in Europe when I was stationed there in the early eighties. I loved those ads, they were real and I thought they showed promise. What I didn't know was that they did not play in the United States. So of course I was disappointed, race relations was just as bad if not worse. We were going backwards to when times were bad.

I grew up in Florida in the sixties and I have experienced the Jim Crow, the white only and colored only signs. I moved to New York with some older relatives that I did not know and I expected it to be better than what I just left. It wasn’t, it was horrible, The neighborhoods were mixed up with all types of races and the schools were crowded and I was shocked to realized that I would be going to school with whites, Indians and Hispanics.

In the south racism was open and in your face, people still spoke to each other. We said yes ma’am and yes sir and they still waved or nodded. Respect was noted and I didn’t look at white people as all bad. There were some bad black people as well. Up north as they called it, racism was hidden behind such terms as you people and country folks.

I had to remind some people that I spoke with a southern accent, I wasn’t country. I reminded them that Jacksonville Florida was a city, not unlike where I was now. The children were very rude that where I met mean girls. They would toss their hair in your face if you sat behind them in class, whisper and point at you and laugh with their friends.

All the while I was thinking that they don’t know me so it didn’t faze me. Now the black kids were just as bad if not worse I was constantly teased about the way I talked, how I dressed, my hair, which was long for a little black girl. They didn’t understand that, was I from the islands, or was I from Africa? Wow, I thought up north was different. I was wrong, again.

The ads I saw on AFN back then were very informational, I put some of it to good use by making sure my children understood them. Fast forward 50 years and nothing has changed, nothing has improved. It was hard to vote back then and it’s getting to be that way again. The ad was right and it went something like this, Children playing on a playground, all races, boys and girls happily playing and a song comes on and it sang:

“You have to be taught to hate and fear, carefully whispered in your dear little ear, to hate all the people that your relatives hate and you have to be taught before it’s too late. You have to be taught to hate and fear carefully whispered in your dear little ear. You have to be taught before its too late you have to be taught before you are six or eight……”

I wish they played those again, now is the perfect time.

Retired Military