So, after seeing The Happening with my wife and my good friend Dale Emery, I drove home, stopping at the Colonial Heights library on Stockton Boulevard on the way. I was listening to Dreams from my Father, by Barack Obama, and feeling very proud of myself for being a liberal Democrat who supports an African American for President, and feeling very pleased that we live in a day and age when an African American finally has a shot at becoming President.
I was stopped at a red light, and I heard a shout to the left. I looked over and saw a black kid shouting and waving at someone. Then he started running into the street. Toward my car. And my first thought was, "Oh crap," and I immediately moved to lock my car doors before reason took over and I stopped myself. The kid ran across the street, and caught up with his friends.
Would I have reacted the same if it had been a white kid? I asked myself that question and I seriously thought about it, and I had to admit, to my shame, that my reaction would very likely have been different. I’m disappointed that even though I was brought up to believe that racism is wrong and went to schools where we were taught the same thing and to churches where we were taught that racism is a sin, it’s still in me. I’m glad that I have the self-consciousness to see it when it rears up, but it’s annoying that it does.
I guess overcoming racism or sexism or any other -ism just isn’t as easy as we would like it to be. Cleaning these flaws out of your character is a bit like cleaning your kitchen, I guess. Just as soon as you think you’ve got all the dishes rinsed and in the dishwasher and the counters are all wiped down, you find a glob of peanut butter spilled on the floor, or some crud baked on to the stainless steel between the burners on your cooktop. It’s a stupid analogy and it would work better if you assumed that you were suffering from OCD and trying to constantly deal with the mess in your kitchen, but you get the point.
And now I worry that I’ve perpetuated bad stereotypes against people who suffer from OCD.
The struggle never ends.