Racism in Illinois … a ramble …

I grew up in Illinois, where racism still has a strong hold, to this very day. Not to bandy about broad generalizations, but the state has had a long history of white suppremicists, I've known many racists personally, over the years. For the first time in a long time, I found myself frightened by the hate-filled crowds that were calling for Obama to be killed and making race a part of this presidential election.

Through the course of my life, I've seen so many things change, and one of them is racism. My father was a bigot of the worst kind. He tossed about the N-word like it was his ticket to glory. He was a cop, and I'm fairly convinced he was at least an unofficial member of the KKK when I was young. He was your typical white, angry cop with a flat-top and a Pabst.

They used to run black families out of my hometown. I remember the first black kid I ever saw. He had come to my grade school. He was only there a short time before his family moved again.

After that, I didn't know any black people until college. It was exotic, then, to have a black friend. My first black friend was from England, so that made her doubly exotic. On top of that, she was a lesbian, so I was getting mucho exotic bang for my buck. She put diversity in my face, and it opened my eyes. She was smart, funny and amazingly well-put together emotionally. I respected her and was fascinated by her. She was everything I'd been warned about throughout my entire childhood.

There's always been a thick vein of racism in Illinois. In 1999, when I went to visit my brother there, a local white suppremicist church was leaving flyers on people's lawns, looking for recruits. Fortunately, times have changed. People are smarter now. Enough people called the city and complained about the flyers that the church was ordered not to do that any more.

Judging someone based solely on the color of their skin is so out-dated. We're so far beyond that now, it seems almost ridiculous to do so. It made me very proud when I learned that Obama was a senator in Illinois. Since I no longer live there, I wasn't aware of it. To think that my state elected Obama, a black man, to represent them in the Senate, made me very hopeful for our country. Illinois, the state that produced Matt Hale, the white suppremicist leader of the World Church of the Creator with a history of violence, had pushed aside racism enough to trust a black man with their well-being.

Thank God, we grow up. Thank God, we learn. Thank God, it's never too late to change your attitude. And thank God, our children are more enlightened than we are.

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~ by angelmccoy on October 11, 2008.

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