Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Less than Human

I'm currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It's a New York Times Bestseller and has recently had a movie adaptation of it hit the big screen. The fact that Emma Stone plays one of the leads had me interested before I even heard the premise of the story.

The premise, it turns out, is about civil rights in the early sixties, back when my parents were mere toddlers.  The book follows the story of three women, one white and two colored, dealing with the racial inequality of the day. It's a story about standing up for yourself and standing up for others. It's a story about racial discrimination that seems so long ago, but was really only a few short years ago.

I won't go into detail about the book. My review of the book will be up in a couple of days on my other blog, Booklist That. That's not what I really want to talk about.

Sitting back and reading this book, I can't help but feel aghast at what passed as acceptable behavior just fifty short years ago. That anyone would treat another human being with the kind of disrespect and condescending nature that was bestowed upon anyone who wasn't white is just disgusting. It legitimately makes me sick that this was considered appropriate.

I don't even know how to put into words how messed up that is.

This wasn't that long ago, though. This was less than a lifetime ago. Only five decades ago, people treated those with differently colored skin like they were nothing better than well-trained animals. Seriously?! I mean, what the hell is that? How can anyone look at that and think it's okay?

But the thing that pisses me off more than that is the fact that some people still think this way. Some people still call black people the "n" word behind their backs. Some people still keep their distance like they're going to get their wallet stolen. The fact that I have black friends that can't so much as stop for gas in certain Southern towns. It makes me want to vomit.

And don't even get me started on how racism has affected Hispanics in the States. It's like people were told to lay off the blacks, so they switched to the Mexicans -- making jokes about illegal immigration, indicating that they're less intelligent than someone with paler skin.

It's that kind of thing that makes me ashamed of being a Southerner.

People are different. That's a fact that people have to come to terms with sooner or later. Some people will have darker skin, some will have paler skin. Some will like loud music, some will only listen to instrumental. Some will have different political, religious, or philosophical point of views than yourself.

THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT OKAY TO ABUSE THEM OR TREAT THEM LIKE THEY ARE LESS THAN HUMAN. EVER.

It's never okay to treat someone like they are disgusting because they are different. The world isn't ever going to get any better until we learn that.

In the words of one of Michael Harmon's characters in his book, Brutal, "It's all the small things we accept that make this world such a crappy place."

So stop accepting it. When you see things like this, you have a responsibility to do something about it. You have a responsibility to change things.

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