In 2008, I voted for Barack Obama. Political preferences aside, I voted for 2 simple things (yes there were others) but it was hope and change. It was my hope that his appointment as President was an indicator that racism might be fading and perhaps our country would focus on the possibilities versus the color of the President’s skin.
In my naive mind, I believed that the votes that got President Obama into the white house would be the same votes that would bring about unity as a country allowing us to move forward as a whole nation versus a fragmented one.
Enter stage right- Reality.
This past weekend Miss America 2013 was crowned. Though I don’t typically watch the pageant, I happened to catch the tail end of it when channel surfing. I saw the potential winner and said to my daughter, “She’s gorgeous, I bet she’ll win.” Sure enough she was crowned Miss America.
Nina Davuluri, the 24-year-old who now wears the crown is a native of Fayetteville, New York. She was on the dean’s list and earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nod while studying at the University of Michigan. She graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. Her father immigrated to the U.S. over 30 years ago. Nina is as American as I am.
While watching the end of the contest, I was flipping through my social media channels and there it was. The hate, the venom, the inexcusable comments showing up on Twitter and Facebook.
Some of the comments included, “Wait, I thought this was Miss AMERICA? “What’s American about a Muslim becoming Miss America.” Other posts called her a terrorist and and Arab. While another post commented, “This is not India, it’s America.”
The more I read, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Many of these posts were by young adults. I was shocked. I switched over to my FB page and unfortunately, someone I know, a father of young children posted, “Miss America? She doesn’t look American. ” I immediately removed him from my list, but couldn’t help thinking about his young children and his post, “She doesn’t look American.” WTH? The beauty of America is diversity. However, just as love, compassion and acceptance are taught in the home, so too is racism.
When I lived in Texas, people often mistook me for Mexican (I’m Portuguese). I wasn’t able to go to some sleep overs because the parents didn’t want a Mexican in their home. There were times when I was treated poorly at restaurants as well as grocery stores. I know what racism feels like and I don’t like it. But more than that, I don’t get it.
My grandparents migrated from Portugal back in the 1900’s. The United States was built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants. Read the history books. Guess what Mr. “This is America, where’s the American,” we are ALL descendants of immigrants and this country wouldn’t be where it is today without them.
The simple part of me wants to say, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Then the realist in me recognizes that it may never happen.
I had hoped to raise my kids in a world of acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Call me Pollyanna. I had also hoped that by the time my kids starting having kids, racism would be something of the past.
Dr. Kings dream that people should not be judged by the color of their skin rather the content of their character is a a dream I have too. It’s unfortunate it remains a dream.
What do you think?
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it.