How Things Change, How They Stay the Same

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Last Updated on May 20, 2015 by Chef Mireille

Good Afternoon Everyone:

Although I do not usually blog about socio-political issues, they seem to be coming at me from all angles and since I have now become a blogger, I feel the need to write about them.

I may be opening a bag of worms by starting this discussion expecially with me launching a new business, but I also think it is important to speak what you believe. Some may agree and some may disagree, but at least you know I stand by my convictions.

Depending who you ask, you will get very different answers about whether racisim still exists here in America. Well, I am a person of color and it does. Now, I am not one of those ultra-sensitive individuals who believe everything is about race – from job promotions, to dates, to college admissions to service in stores. Many times it is, but sometimes it is not.

I had a somwhat sheltered childhood due to two very loving parents so racism was not an issue I had to deal with on a regular basis when I was a child. The only thing I did notice was that whenever we went to a Broadway show and many of the restaurants and cultural activities my parents took us to, we were the only people of color most of the time. Whether people thought we belonged there or not, I’ll never know. New York, being up North, and open racisim not being socially accepted here, I never felt as though I did not belong at any of these activities.
Racisim has to be very open and pretty much punching me in the face for me to be aware of it. Some may say that is a very bad thing, but since I do not notice it, I also do not spend time and energy getting upset about the ignorance of people whose minds I probably could never change. I just live my life and work hard to try to be successful doing the work I love to do and forming meaningful personal relationships with the people in my life by being a caring friend.

Open racism seems to be everywhere now. I think for a long time many people thought we were moving beyond racisim and only a small minority still held these colonial views. Now, with the press being so open and more moderate people of color being in the political arena as well as media, people have again felt the freedom to express their opinions. Also, there are so many more platforms to express opinions today – from radio and tv, to websites and blogs – we, as a a nation, are expressing our opinions on everything from the most mundane to the future of our country.

Now there is the Jena 6 and Bill O’Reilly’s complete and utter amazement that a black run dining establishment, Sylvia’s in Harlem, operated no differently than a white eating establishment. What did he expect? I am very aware of these issues at the moment because I happen to be reading Steve Biko’s biography. For those of you who might not have heard of him, he is a Black Consciousness freedom fighter who lost his life in the struggle to end apartheid in his country of South Africa, long before Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island.
And let’s not forget Don Imus.

What do we have to do to end the indoctrinated racism that still exists in our country and many parts of the world today? Even variations of skin color within the same race are not accepted in many societies. My mother just came from China visiting my cousin and his Chinese wife, who has a slight olive complexion and is considered dark and undesirable in Chinese society. Everyone there was carrying umbrellas in the sun, so afraid of getting a little color on their skin and everywhere they went, people stared at them. And the same problem exists in India. All of the Bollywood actresses are light skinned and most of the Indian people in the lower economic strata happen to be dark skinned as well.

I am beginning to lose hope in the dream that one day “we will live in a nation where… will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. We all are more than happy to accept the day off of work that some of us receive to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but I think the way to honor his legacy is to contribute in whatever way you can, by helping his dream come to fruition and ending racisim.

Chef Mireille
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