I don’t normally talk about controversial issues with strangers. Or with family. Or with anyone, really. It’s too much of a headache and, unless you’re dealing with a really level-headed person that truly tries to see all sides, its fairly pointless. However, I read an article earlier that I will not link to because I think it does more to cause racial divides than heal anything. In that article someone was quoted as saying he knows people that have never met a black person and only knows what they’ve heard about them through others. They’re monsters, barely human, and scary. (All of that was paraphrased as I would imagine googling a direct quote would pull the article right up.) The article, in general, was about police officers.
First, in this crazy mixed up country that is insanely diverse, how have you never met a black person? Are you homeschooled and not allowed to leave the house? Do you belong to a white only cult that lives in a compound or something? I’m genuinely curious…
Second, if you are somehow qualified to be a police officer, then surely you will have met people from all walks of life while going through whatever police academy you may have to attend. Was there really no black people there? Really?!
Third, in this day and age, are you completely incapable of going online and google whether or not all black people are monsters? I’m sure the results would be interesting, to say the least, but surely there’s at least one result on the first page that would set you straight. Or at least make you question that thought.
Another statement in that article said the people who have never met black people have no experiences like theirs and cannot put themselves in their shoes because of that. Have you never cracked open a book?!
I read. A lot. All sorts of different things. Stories online that might not be a “real” book. Fanfiction, because who doesn’t love Dramione! Classic books, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, everything! My favorite quote and likely part of my next tattoo is:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
I’ve been a dragon, a kitty, a puppy, a queen, a cyborg, an adventurer, and a pirate, among other things. I’ve been a young black girl scared of her boyfriend beating her. I’ve been a five year old boy who knows nothing of the outside world. I’ve been a man terrified of an ex-girlfriend. I’ve been a mutant hunted by society. I’ve been a sorceress yanked into an unknown world. I’ve been a pregnant child molested by family members. I’ve been a young man just discovering that he’s gay in a country that would execute him for those desires.
Not everything I read is all rainbows and sunshine. I read plenty of dark stuff. It’s occasionally depressing and it’s harder to recommend those sorts of books because they are sad and not really an escape. They don’t always end happily, but you can always learn something from them.
I can put myself in almost anyone’s shoes because I’ve been those people. Maybe not literally, but literarily. I immerse myself in my books and characters and look forward to new experiences every time. Reading isn’t a cure-all for racism, discrimination, and hate, but I think if we could get more of these close-minded people reading then we might be able to make some actual changes to their mindsets.
Granted, I don’t know how to get them reading these sorts of books, but maybe we just need to make sure that they cannot be banned from school and public libraries so that students have access to them regardless of what their parents think. Maybe we can’t change the current adult generation of haters, but we can get to their children before they’re too brainwashed.
Note: I didn’t include book titles because I don’t always remember them. Furthermore, not all of these characters that I mentioned are from books.