Racism still experienced by young adults

    As a child I was taught to “play nice,” share what I had and treat others with the same kindness I wanted myself. As I grew older I realized that seldom were they put into practice in history or present day.
    The first memory I recall about racism was at 4 years old when I fully realized I was considered “black.” Those considered black in America have a rather troubling history, I learned.
    I remember my dad dressing me for daycare and he and mom telling me that “my” ancestors were once slaves in America. The thought that ancestors who came before me were slaves made me uneasy.  The conversation confused me because it contradicted the play nice, share and lessons of kindness I was taught.
    Obviously, somewhere someone was not playing nice, sharing or being kind. My parents assured me that this slavery business was in the past and only to be remembered to know how far  we have come as a nation. Yet,  we still have a long way to go.
    When my mother was looking for an elementary school for me to attend, she  became overwhelmingly upset over a telephone call. She had asked the neighboring school about its diversity. Assuming my mother was white, the school representative assured my mother that none of “them” were at the school, and she had nothing to worry about. This story, like the other, did not sit well with me because it again violated the “play nice, share and be kind” rule.
    I have countless stories stained in my memory such as the assumption that I am great at basketball or “when I first saw you I thought you were some thug” comment. These do nothing to end racism.  The fact that my relationship with racism has been far too frequent only begs the question of why this is so.
    The answer is that as a people we have become very selfish with a “benefit-me” mindset.  
    What I find more troubling than the bloody racism of the past is the hidden racism of today. The high five, “I care about you” words are empty and abandoned. As a 19-year-old man, I find racism something well hidden underneath false smiles and empty compliments.
    Most  have adopted an “I’m not racist” policy, but behind closed doors uphold the “my group is more important than the next” attitude. It will take a true evaluation and reflection of self and our hidden self-interests to end racism. Not only in matters concerning race but in all injustices – no group can be more important than the next. We must return to the first lessons of playing nice and fairly, sharing what we have and treating all with a genuine kindness that has no prejudgments – a.k.a. becoming selfless.
    Thomas J. Nash II, 19, is a sophomore studying theology at Xavier University. He is a St. Peter Claver Church in New Orleans parishioner. He can be reached at teejayii12@aol.com.

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