Friday, August 14, 2009

My day in LA

Today me and some girlfriends and one husband went to the Museum of Tolerance in LA. A very good museum. We also took a 12 yr old girl and a 13.5 yr old boy.

I don't often think of myself as a minority, although because I'm a product of a white father and a Japanese mother I am a minority, or at least I LOOK like a minority. I don't really look white. I don't particularly look Japanese either btw. I just look like I could be one of many different nationalities. Mexican, middle-eastern, Asian, iIndian, Mediterranean, etc.

I was always confused as a child because I was called names but I saw myself as exactly like my blue-eyed, blonde neighbors. HA, my dad was blue-eyed and blonde (errr, when he had hair, LOL).

I have a white friend who is getting more and more vocal about her distaste about Mexicans. She makes disparaging remarks about them, about how prevalent they are where we live. I don't know what she expects, we live in Southern California! They were here first for crying out loud. Our culture here is rich in hispanic culture. She mentioned that a friend of hers came back to town after being gone for 10 years and was shocked at how many Mexicans there were here and she said to us, "...And you know she is right! I want to move because there are so many of them nowadays."

I wish she would move. She thinks they are taking our jobs, taking over our neighborhoods.

But in all that she doesn't think she is racist.

Today we listened to a man who used to be a skinhead. He's renounced his past and works at the museum, educating people about racism. As I listened to him speak I realized that fear is the motivator, fear of something different. This same woman is deathly afraid muslims will take over the US, that somehow their birth rate is going to climb so high that everyone will be forced to practice their religion. She's so afraid.

I would urge every person to look at the person, the similarities and work from there. Knowledge is the key to understanding.

However, I'm not sure I'll ever understand why my friend is so afraid and why she can't see that her fear propagates fear and racism. Listening to her makes me feel ill. I don't think I can allow those kind of comments to go unchecked anymore.

The 13.5 yr old boy asked me a bunch of questions during our tour of the museum. He's 1/2 mexican (although he looks totally white), his father looks mexican tho. I don't think he's all that aware of racism because HIS parents are in a bi-racial marriage, his friends are of all nationalities and religious beliefs and he reminds me of me: thinking himself as just himself, not as a type that has a history assigned to him because of his ethnic background. It give me hope that he and his sister (as well as my own children) can, so far, see people instead of color. I hope they can see there are inequities in life and strive to educate that despite their ethnic background they do not fear different cultures and can help educate others who find out they ARE part of a different culture but are exactly like everyone else.

After the day at the museum we went to Canters, a famous Jewish deli. Yum. A huge meal, a fun time hanging out with my friends. Oh and btw, the husband did not go on this trip, he's been 3 times and he went to the beach to partake in a music festival.


Billy Canary said...

50 older folks in Huntington Beach, which was grand, and a trip down the coast to a uke shop which has embraced the uke o' China. The root beer from up the street was good tho. The traffic home sucked!

susan m hinckley said...

I'd love to visit this museum -- I think we all have people in our lives who make those kinds of "comments", and I wish I were better at saying what I think when they do. Lots of room for improvement there for me, because I'm pretty timid about using my voice. But when I think of the way my grandparents (and even my parents, to some extent) talked, I can see that overall we're making progress. And I'm delighted to report that my children's generation seems much more readily inclined to see people as people, regardless of religious affiliation, gender orientation, nationality, etc. There's hope for this ol' country yet.