Even in 2009, the beginning of the 21ST century, racism is still prevalent because of a lack of understanding and moral blindness; it has birthed many of society’s ills and significantly fails to appreciate the many differences in the biological and physical characteristics of individuals. It is a cause for wonder.
“Racism is conditioned by economic imperatives, but negotiated through culture: religion, literature, art, science and the media… Once, they demonized the blacks to justify slavery. Then they demonized the “colored” to justify colonialism. Today, they demonize asylum seekers to justify the ways of globalism. And, in the age of the media… demonization sets out the parameters of popular culture within which such exclusion finds its own rationale — usually under the guise of xenophobia, the fear of strangers.” – A Sivanandan, Extracted from Race & Class (Vol. 43, no. 2, October–December 2001).
Racism causes us to speak the four letter “F” word found in our daily language. It is the birthplace of discrimination, separation and segregation, byproducts of a racist mentality due to ignorance. It is a mechanism that allows a roaring emotional state due to remembrance and the verbal expression that commonly articulates surprise, shock and anger when it shows its ugly face. It doesn’t matter the lens that racism is looked through, how it’s filtered to shed reason for its cause or who is right because of circumstance, racism, or its perceived behavioral influence and re-action causes behaviors that are against the values that humanity is designed. And, the convicted parties on all sides demonstrate that all too familiar four letter “F” word that expresses the emotion that everyone has experienced at one time or another in their life – FEAR!
Racism and fear are synonymous of one another, both causing people to feel anxious or apprehensive about a possible or probable situation, circumstance or event. They are used to introduce unpleasant statements or emotions experienced in anticipation of some specific pain, danger and uneasy or apprehensive concern (usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight). The fear is due to the conviction that the members of one specific group are inherently superior to the members of other groups. This conviction is often manifested by discriminatory behaviors and practices towards the members of the supposed inferior groups.
Now that the lessons for racism have been defined, let’s talk of ways to overcome the fears that ultimately lead to the sword of demise. Yes, the word sword is used because it is often seen as an instrument of death and destruction. But, since we are focusing on bringing a resolution to the forefront of the issues that stem from racism and fear, we can learn from one of the greatest swords in the world, carried by men and women of one of the very best organizations that produces the top leaders on the globe – a premium grade Mameluke Sword and the United States Marine Corps.
Just like our U.S. Marines who always seek improvement, the Mameluke Sword is symbolic of excellence. The blade is already beautifully prepared; the craftsmanship is refined and etched to perfection. When presented to a U.S. Marine Corps officer, the sword consists of absolutely superb castings (the drag on scabbard and the acorns on the hilt) and carries with it a tradition that lives on almost as a mythical legend. The sword represents a certified metaphor of performance, now enlisted to the men and women who are “expected” to perform as the best the world has to offer. To some, the U.S. Marine Corps offers imagery of an organization led by old military commanders seeking to wage battle. This remains largely dubious, especially in today’s increasingly complex, networked world. Rather, they are leaders – men and women, young and old – of all races and endeavors who seek to better themselves and others each day of their life. They love to win, yet they think beyond themselves. They love to compete, yet they show compassion for their fellow human beings. And, they see no race, yet each individual is seen as crossing the right of passage – the rigors, disciplines, decisions, pains and defeats – of becoming the leader who has earned the title “United States Marine.”
A Marine and his/her sword regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted and they are in awe of their own will to win through the efforts of others. They marvel at genius, a feeling of profound respect for someone or the mission they are assigned to accomplish. They too fear that which is not understood, but they carry with them a culture of honor, respect, tradition, resilience, excellence and perfection in performance that overcomes the actual fear that they face. This form of reverence overcomes the destruction that opposes harmony or community, the enslaved misunderstood mindsets that keeps division.
So, why do we fear what is not understood? One wonders. You may recall that as a very young child, you were usually free from fear. You may be swinging at the playground, racing your buddy to see who could go the highest and ready to jump, or about to fuse a firecracker – you aren’t scared and the unknown for the immediate future is also not understood. Can we call it something other than fear, such as bravery? Absolutely not; being unaware of the misunderstood is a means to grasp the opportunity for further education – one that is freed from fear. So, at this very early stage in life, children are guided by their parents, guardians and well-wishers in ways that teaches them to conqueror their fears, only in some cases, fears are placed within them that they do not own – racism. It is at this early stage and time that adults must carry the Mameluke Sword and teach the perfections that will etch the superb castings of our future – the children. And, prepare them through teachings of the Lord: “to love thy neighbor as you would want them to love you.”
We must get back to the basics and principles that have been afforded us by the men and women who have laid the foundations of a great race – humanity – which is unique. Each individual regardless of race or gender is special in a way that teaches others to become a better quality and quantity to life. Most importantly, we must teach our children (and adults who act as children even when they are greatly respected) that humans actually have more in common than not. Even science agrees to this point and it is supported by the Bible. Acts 17:26 (King James Version) declares, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” This makes us know that all mankind has the same origin, indeed we are one race of human beings. The diversity and uniqueness of both people and nations are manifestations of God’s awesome creativity and power.
But, the battle wages on in us all, regardless of how one feels. The moral blindness of racism fails to appreciate that the differences that we all offer to one another. Do we ever spare a thought about how a child would cope with the unknown or misunderstood? At a time where the United States of America has come together, in the majority – all races and both genders – to elect the first African American President, we still have stories in the media that instructs to our children that we have not grown up to lead by example. It is here that we forget that the child (and again, the adult who acts and speaks as a child) must be taught to deal with and overcome the bullies of life – racism and fear.
We must teach them to carry their own swords as a metaphor of performance. To become the leaders – men and women, young and old – of all races and endeavors, who seek to better themselves and others each day of their life. They must be taught to love to win, yet they think beyond themselves. They must be taught to love to compete, yet show compassion for their fellow human beings. And, they must be taught to see no race, yet “understand” that each individual is seen as special with something to teach and offer to the world.
This my friends is the only way to journey the right of passage – the rigors, disciplines, decisions, pains and defeats – of becoming the people who have truly earned the right to wear the title, a “LEADER.”