Tuesday, May 13, 2014

colored water

I can remember as a youngster being in the supermarket with my mom and seeing the drinking fountains (remember them?) labeled "white" and "colored." I had no idea this was racial - I thought the water was white or colored! Naturally I wanted to drink the colored one. A woman witnessed this and scolded my mother for letting me drink where "those people" had put their mouths. My mother explained it all later, but it was several years later before I really understood.
 
Or do I understand? Why should someone drink from a certain fountain and not from another, just because of their race? Well the answer of course is that they shouldn't. Separate drinking fountains are illegal now, but sadly, we still have racial prejudice - I even see it right here in 2014 in San Francisco, California. 
 
The whole drinking water thing apparently hit home with many.  Diane Bass, the mother of entertainer Lance Bass, wrote an essay several months ago which I just read the other day and in it she recalls her drinking fountain moment.  With her grandmother screaming at her to stop drinking from the "wrong" fountain, Bass writes "When I looked at the fountain it had the word "Colored" on it and she told me I had to drink out of another one. I was only 6 years old but I knew something was just not right about that."

Many of my friends are Asian and one time I was out with several other guys, all of whom are Asian. A group of white guys came upon us and started yelling at me "Why aren't you with your own kind?" They even chased after us, and since we were outnumbered, their senseless prejudice was not in the forefront of our minds - we simply wanted to get out of there safely.

I see the same kind of bias against lgbt people often. I've been very fortunate and haven't been the victim of individual attacks, but all the laws that ban same sex marriage or that allow prejudice against lgbt people in the workplace or anywhere else, are certainly attacks. They are saying I am not quite as good as someone else.

In all my years and will all that I have seen, the prejudicial treatment of people based on their membership - or perceived membership - in a certain group or category, just doesn't make sense to me, and yet it continues.

Is a world with true equality too much for me to hope for? Can we put aside all prejudice and discrimination? Will bigotry ever be completely erased? What do YOU think?

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