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When you go to bury racism, dig a lot of graves

July 24, 2010|By LLOYD "PETE" WATERS

While growing up in Dargan, we never talked much about racism.

We already knew we were better than anyone outside of Dargan, and I later discovered that most outsiders had a similar view of us.

"Must be normal thinking," I concluded. "We're not racists, are we?"

Brownie Turner, who lived in our town, was a little more dark skinned then most, but was well-liked by all the community. He was a great mechanic.

People could have treated Brownie differently because he was different in a way, but no one ever did.

Brownie died one day alongside the Dargan back road near the Shinham lime kiln.

My first encounter, I thought, with real racism, occurred during boot camp in 1966 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Some white soldiers from the South and some black soldiers from the North had a few problems with each other and created some unnecessary havoc for our entire company for a while.

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I had friends in both groups.

I watched these issues unfold, but thought the survival of the team was paramount to the survival of the mission.

That might be a serious message even for today's world.

I avoided taking sides because I believed both groups were a little stupid in their behavior against each other and both displayed racial attitudes, in my opinion.

As I read recently of the NAACP resolution that asks the Tea Party to refrain from racist comments and gestures, and the Tea Party's criticism of the resolution as "garbage," the issue took me back to the days of 1966 at Fort Bragg.

Certainly there seems something "racist" about a Tea Party member in Mason City, Iowa, displaying a billboard with a picture of President Obama situated between photos of Hitler and Lenin. The member states there is no message of racism intended. Yeah, right!

While the NAACP has been quick to label the Tea Party group as filled with raving "racists," they have been altogether silent about the behavior of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia.

You might remember that this group was alleged to have a member in military garb with a night stick stand outside a voting place in Philadelphia as a form of intimidation to voters. Some of this group's inflaming racial rhetoric and rants have also been well-documented.

If the NAACP is truly concerned about "racism," shouldn't it be equally concerned about all racism? How about a resolution that condemns racism in any form by all groups to include even the NAACP?

Or is the NAACP convinced that there is no "racism" among its members? Yeah, right!

That always seems to be a nagging problem with racism. Everyone else seems to display unacceptable racial behavior except for the group or person hurling the accusations of racism.

Hitler use to put the pictures of Jews next to pictures of rats. He saw little difference between the two. The Germans were a superior race, he concluded. He never considered himself a racist, and justified killing 6 million Jews.

The current Jewish nation, too, would like to have a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the Mideast, but some aspect of racism among that group as well is probably hindering that process.

Palestinians, although desiring a homeland to call their own, have also demonstrated racism and hatred toward Jews. It is doubtful they would acknowledge their own racism.

Racism has been cultivated in this world since the beginning of time, and it is a dangerous, self-created potion that is destructive to all mankind.

Is there a solution to the problem of racism?

I remember one time hearing a story about a conversation between God and a man. God looked down and spoke to the man: "I want you to build me a better world," God said. The man asked, "I am just one little person God, how can I build you a better world?" God responded: "I want you to build me a better you."

I guess that's a good place to start.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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