The Times West Virginian

April 26, 2013

Everyone must be willing to take a stand against racism

Times West Virginian

— It’s not hard to be color blind. In fact, humans are born that way.

They can see all the vibrant hues of the world — from the cool colors of blues and purples to the warm colors of reds and yellows. But when it comes to skin color, while babies and children recognize the many shades and pigments, they do not discriminate.

They do not associate stereotypes with skin tones.

They do not fear, hate or loathe because of race alone.

No, that is taught. Sadly, that is something that infects their world from outside sources. Isn’t it funny that children have to be taught ignorance?

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. told the world about a dream he had where his four children would one day be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Sadly, 50 years later, we continue to fight the battle against racism. The battle is fought in the hallways of schools. The battle is fought on playgrounds. The battle is fought in neighborhoods. The battle is fought in the workplace.

And fighting the good fight this week was the Young Women Christian Association of Marion County, more commonly known as the YWCA, which hosted a workshop to celebrate Stand Against Racism Day by promoting acceptance and inclusion, making “peace flags” and learning about diversity.

Stand Against Racism Day was established in 2007 by YWCA chapters in New Jersey and is celebrated by nearly 250,000 people each year.

“They joined forces because they wanted to bring people together from all walks of life, different economic backgrounds and cultures to focus on common concerns and beneficial opportunities that affect the quality of life in our community,” said Cecily Enos, executive director of the Marion County YWCA.

Marion County is not especially diverse, with a 95 percent white population. However, Enos said the schools are more diverse than the general population.

“The ones that recognize that racism and sexism and the  ‘-isms’ are still alive and well are the students,” she said. “Not so much the adults, because they’ll say, ‘We don’t have that,’ but the students, the ones in the schools, they recognize it.”

And it is our responsibility as adults to tell our children that it’s not OK to discriminate based on color or race. It’s our job to take a stand against racism by talking to our kids and grandchildren and reinforcing the idea that all men and women are created equal.

Hate is baggage — acceptance and love sets us free, as Dr. King said that August day 50 years ago.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”