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Is It REALLY Color, or Is It Still Just Black and White?


It's the epitome of making someone unwelcome.


Yep. There's that word again. It makes us
nervous. We know it well. It's bad. It's not getting
better real fast and it's causing alot of dreadful
problems that we seem to be unable to solve. But why
do we still have racism at all? Have we never grown up
or what?

I have a theory- ( I bet you knew I would.
You're right, here it comes.) - but we need a short
field-trip first.

I love nature shows, so I have the kind of
general knowledge of wild animals that anyone with a
TV can have, if they want. I'm betting that's a whole
lot of you. The most basic thing I feel I've learned is
that all species recognize their own by sight or smell.
Some use both, but many have only one or the other.
Humans use sight. All humans are the same
configuration, so we can't tell one from another until
we see them. From a distance, a human is a human.
The closer you get, the more obvious our differences
or similarities become. Skin color just happens to be
the first incredibly obvious visible difference. Not the
only one, just the first visible. At this point those last
shameful vestages of animal instinct drag us down.

Our leftover animal sense of our own kind was
probably a useful natural feeling once. We are a global
community now, so we can see that our different races
are basically geographic origins. From an animal's
point of view, though, differences mean food or
danger. Enough of a variance is certain peril. In other
words, we came by our racism as naturally as we came
by many other of our most atrocious behaviors-
because we used to be greedy, ignorant and fearful of
the unfamiliar. ( Used to be?)

So why is it still so bad? Politics? Social
prejudice? The arts and media? Exclusionist business

( E=all of the above.)

I know, you're thinking 'how could politics or
business be racist', right? No, seriously. They're the
battleground of modern society. Sadly, fear is as strong
an emotional binder as unity. We still have lot's of
jerks cultivating power or profit by using conflict to
gain money and emotional support. And is racism one
of these tools? You bet. I believe that's why Martin
Luther King was a threat to many with power- those
who derive their power from capitalizing on racial
fears. He spoke of unity. Peace. Freedom. Equality.
Justice. Where's your average fear-monger going to
find a buck in that?

The unforgivable squelching of any voice of unity
is always a catalyst for righteously indignant and
usually extreme reactions. Those who are most
angered will probably act most agressively. We
sympathize- we fear these things ourselves- so we
encourage retribution. In this way, we insure a conflict
for the jerks to profit from. I believe King knew this,
and that is why he was stolen from us. Only those of
us who crave unity and peace could profit from his
ideas and you know what we mean to those politicians,
corporations and lobbying groups banking on the
conflict dividing us.

Right- diddly squat.

But, is that all society? Are people and communities simply racist by nature?

That's a hot one.

As I've said, I believe that we all have the ability to
feel racial prejudice in some way. Those idiotic old animal
instincts again. We're sentient beings, so we should be above
such nonsense. Again, it's those same greedy jerks- tapping
into an almost forgotten fear. How do they manage to exploit
it in so many ways?

I'm afraid it's the arts and media.

But, are the arts and media themselves racist?

There are many nowadays who would say so. The
major TV networks are under great social pressure to
include more minority members at higher levels. An
unintended consequence of this protest was the
encouragement of the public notion that racism in the
media was strictly a black/white issue. I don't think
that for a second. I think that racism is a world-wide
and all-inclusive problem.

Still, I have read and heard too many times, the
claims 'there are no black racists' and 'all whites are


To say such a thing is to throw logic off a cliff into
some craggly rocks. Racism is not exclusive to
anybody, nor is any race impervious to it. Prejudice or
it's backlash is affecting all of us to some extent. How
do we get so many widely different opinions and
perceptions? The same way our original problem was
perpetuated for 200 years.

Yep. The arts and media.

They have always been major tools to those with
hate to sow. Technology now allows someone with
ulterior motives to enflame all of us at once. By telling
a story through details that enhance one point of view,
they spread or distort information, impacting society at
will. We're suckers for a good tear-jerker or
blood-boiler. We'll accept almost any information
given to us under the right emotional circumstances.
Case in point, the Bible doesn't actually say that black
races came from anywhere unholy, no matter how
many white supremist pamphlets they print about it.
The Bible also doesn't say Christ was anything but,
well, Jewish.

These ideas are perpetuated by people who accept
them as truth out of fear. A white who's been taught
that all blacks are bad will readily believe the Bible
says so. Likewise, a black who has been taught that all
whites hate all blacks has got to love the idea that
Jesus was black. One is entirely negative and
the other is entirely positive. One brings more hatred
and the other maybe brings hope. Though neither is in
the Bible, we easily condemn a white who hates. But
who would have us condemn a black man who merely
hopes? What about the otherway 'round?

We're smart enough to overcome this. The way is
through opening our perspective and including all the
obvious facts, however unpleasant. The key to any real
solution is going to be the emotional focus. If the focus
is on diversity, there will be no resolution- ever. People
do not respond well to differences. They respond very
well to familiar things. That means focusing on
common qualities and values to assure an end to
racism. So how can we share this idea of unity with
everyone in a way that will make sense?

Um, well, yes, ARTS and MEDIA! There's a catch,

If you want to save the world from something, you
have to be able to do the math. God knows, the bad
guys do. You can't just make up your answer. You've
got to have the whole picture. So if you want to
eliminate racism, you have to admit a few realities
about it that you may not want to. For example;

- Every race on the planet has at one time
or another been racist to someone. Also,
every race has held slaves. The two are not
mutually exclusive. Everyone has enslaved
everyone else or them own by now, and sit
down now, slavery is still being practiced
today by lots of different kinds of creeps.

- The chief cause of the U.S. Civil War was
slavery. We tend to forget we're talking
about white folks, at least half of whom
(I'm sure. It's 'whom') were intent on seeing
blacks freed from their bonds. Does dying for
it sound like commitment to you? You may
recall one white guy who had something to
say about it. What was that name again?
Abe something. I'd give a fiver to remember.

There is a basic math to racial unity- the simple
logic of proportions. It starts with sheer numbers.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that we have a
population made up of 25% one kind of folks and 75%
of all the others. Wether you're selling TV shows or
Tee-shirts- to reach the top exposure or sales of the
whole market, you must sell to the whole market. For
a minority product to do this, it must also sell to the
majority. At 25% total (theoretically) we're including
all of the minority when we first look at the numbers.
Delving further, the entire 25% may not apply to a
product. A certain type of music might be aimed at one
particular age group, and maybe just over half of the
25%. A product aimed at 15% is not going to be #1
among the whole 100% unless a significant amount of
that 75% majority buys it as well. So, if we make it
black and white, that means that, basically, a black
product is not realistically going to hit #1 unless a
bunch of white folks think it's cool, too. So EVERY
white couldn't be racist. That means some progress.
Independant common values and beliefs replace
differences, forming a larger definition of a majority
(like, for example, jazz, blues or sports fans).

Unity sells big and plays long. Hate sells short.

This applies to every artist, product or idea in the
world and has nothing to do with race. It's a fact of
numbers and marketing. You can sell the majority to
the hilt without any minority sales, but the minority
just hasn't the numbers to do it without appealing to
the majority. We decide what defines the majority-
which common trait- and then pitch it to them with
each product or idea- like everyone with an infant,
or every car-owner.

But when it comes to race, we seem to be stuck
on asserting only differences. This conflict thrills those
who derive power or profit from it. Peace always lies in
understanding and that comes from perception. The
perception of common ideas and values leads to
sympathy. Percieved differences lead to anger. It's
really as simple as that. Human growth will be directly
shaped by how quickly we learn to choose to identify
similarities first. The larger irony here is that shared
emotions and experiences bring curiosity about those
very differences we so feared.

So is racism still a serious problem? You bet.
Are people racist? Many, yes, but more than you think
are not. Are the arts and media racist? Not on your
life. Are they abused by jerks advancing racist, sexist,
selfish and exclusionist agendas? Well, duh. Is there a

Absolutely. Can anyone change it alone? Not in a
million years.

The best answer is to fight fire with fire- use the
arts and media to spread some unity for a change. I
mean everyone. Toward everybody. Really. It's time
we put our seperatist dogma on a good strong leash.

Our society is slowly becoming a patchwork quilt.

We can be a melting pot again.

copyright 2000 Pegwood Arts all rights reserved

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