Comments: Escaping your past

When I was in high school back in 1975 I had a black (the popular word back then) friend and for awhile dated a black girl, my friends sister. By the way in 1975 that was a good way to find out who your true friends were.

Let's look at it from another side, people who were not prejudiced but could be thought to be by their words.

Well my paternal grandparents lived near me and I was very close to them. My grandparents used the word colored. When my friend and girlfriend were around them it would bother me. Then both my friend and girlfriend took me aside and said they were not offended because they understood that that was the word my grandparents had learned when young. In fact they told me their own grandparents used the word. They also told me something that made me respect my grandparents even more. They told me that they could tell by the way my grandparents treated them that my grandparents had no prejudice in them.

I realize that this is not the same as what Mel did, but it does illustrate how easily the term racist can be thrown around. My friends could have easily disregarded my grandparents actions and concentrated on the word. They did not and we all got along.

As I grow older I realize even more that it is the actions not the words. I sometimes slip into using the term black because that was the term in vogue during my formative years. Does that make me prejudice? No it just means you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

My grandparents, who grew up in a time of Jim Crow and other stupidity, were decent people who truly did judge people by their character. In a time when inter-racial dating was still nearly a taboo these people showed me what true character was and should be.

Posted by JAH at August 2, 2006 11:38 AM

My father, born in 1911, was raised by a strict German father, and was taught typical Germanic views (at that time) of "schwartz" people and Jews.

He occasionally would explain to me how he worked to overcome his father's teachings. He was a high school teacher in Chicago, and taught a lot of Jews and Blacks, so it was a constant battle.

One incite he gave me was that there always are a few people that fit the stereotype of the and I should not be mislead into believing that just because one person fits the stereotype, all are like that.

Applying that rule of the stereotype to Mel's case, I would conclude that most Hollywood actors are not hypocrits who project one personna, (with the help of agents, studios, PR spots, etc.) while actually being entirely different, unless exposed by the universal truth serum known as alcohol.

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