Thursday, February 11, 2010

How Could Anyone Sort It All Out?

I wish I could explain better. I can't. All I can tell you is that I have seen clear evidence of how deep some of our society's problems go and I'm feeling both sad and disheartened.

How is it that within our cities live people in neighborhoods that operate under frontier law? How can we bear the waste of millions of lives spent in exile from opportunity, both because of their own hopelessness and the fact that it's damned hard to break out?

What is it that divides these people from mainstream society? The shade of their skin color. Really, it's that simple. I try to examine all the reasons; culture, habit, education, but it boils down to color.

Imagine: a race of people with lavender skin. They come from all over the world, but in every country, their skin marks them as different. They are, as are many people, immigrants. They try to function in a society where they are minorities. But unlike other immigrants, they cannot mingle without notice, without anyone being conscious of the fact that they are "other". So they gather together, creating neighborhoods where they feel comfortable, where they aren't "other". They become "we".

A few of these lavender people, the motivated ones, the strong ones, the ones with parents who refuse to allow them to settle for anything less than their highest potential, pursue their dreams. They are fueled by the obstacles they encounter; prejudice simply adds to their motivation to prove that they can make it in a world that isn't lavender-friendly. Those few can succeed. But they are few compared to the rest who remain where it is, if not safe, familiar.

Many, perhaps most, stay safe within their neighborhoods, find ways to survive in their own world, live by their own code. The rules of the rest of the world don't apply there; they have their own code, their own rules, their own law. It is a frontier, a wild west where the strong make the rules, where defying the strong is just plain dangerous.

How is it possible that we are allowing this to exist? And for those of us who know it for the injustice that it is, how do you fix it?

Can there be any hope for the young people who have grown up in the frontier? Their rage is so deep, their hopelessness so vast, the twisted values of the frontier so ingrained that I just don't see how they can be convinced that there's any possibility of a different life.

And what of the children? What hope is there for them, when the world they know is a shadow world of us against them?

And how much poorer is our world because we're squandering the genius that undoubtedly waits to be tapped in those endless, isolated frontiers.

We hoped for change in America - how many generations will it take for change to happen where it really matters - in ourselves?

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