Racism has been rearing its ugly head again lately in the U.S.A.; showing its face shamelessly and without remorse. It seems the election cycle often brings it out for whatever reason. But this goes much deeper than political mediocrity.
My oldest son proudly plays on a quite diverse soccer team for his high school. In fact, he is one of the few “white boys” on the team – which, for our family is part of the richness and value of living where we do, in Northern New Mexico.
Yesterday his team traveled to play a team in a different part of the state. There was not one Latino, Chicano, Native American, Asian American nor African American on the opposing team, which fundamentally should make no difference to the game whatsoever. Not in this case however.
Unfortunately as the game proceeded there were many racist remarks made by the fans of the opposing team towards players on my son’s team. Comments like “Hey Chihuahua, go back to Tijuana where you belong, bark, bark, bark!” shouted at one of our team’s strikers. There were other comments too. Chide remarks, a lot of “get out of America” kinds of sentiment towards boys whose families go back 300 years here, in many cases.
Racism is ignorance.
So after the game, some of the parents on my son’s team couldn’t just walk away, including me. I went up to the assistant coach and told him that – “racist remarks were made by his team’s fans, that there is absolutely no place for it and that it spoils the game for everyone”. He looked at me, waved me off and said “F-ing Liberals!”
Then the coach for my son’s team who is a very kind and respectful human being went to the head coach of the other team and told him that the racist behavior on the part of the fans and team should disqualify them from league play. The coach shrugged it off with a shirking smile, making no effort to apologize or reconcile.
In the meantime things were seriously heating up between some of our team’s parents and some of theirs. The anger was palpable.
Reacting to racism with anger and feelings of retribution only feeds it. It is being “racist” against racists.
Then our coach walked to where the fans were gathered and he said – “This is not about us losing the game, not at all. Your team won fair and square and my boys accept that with respect and dignity. They are young gentlemen. What are not acceptable are the racist slurs many of your fans, including students were shouting at my boys. When that happens…WE ALL LOSE! Do you understand? NOBODY WINS!”
We turned our backs and walked away.
Teaching tolerance begins with a fundamental feeling of genuine compassion towards all human beings regardless of ethnicity, gender, creed, age – for real! Not just in one’s words, but in one’s heart and head and behavior.
During the World Cup Soccer Tournament in South Africa this year, the banner of every participating country was “Say No to Racism”! But you cannot say “no” with hostility in your heart. No.
Stand against the ACT – not the person. People, when educated with understanding and compassion, can change! When that happens, even in one single human being – WE ALL WIN!