Notes on Racism

I remember the first time I was exposed to racism. I was 6 years old in 1976 (almost 7), and just beginning 2nd grade. There was a girl my age named Mai-Linh. Her Vietnamese family sought refuge in the US, having fled their war-torn country a few years before when Mai-Linh was just a toddler. At our first recess/playground time, I noticed a group of older kids surrounding her, teasing her by stretching their eyes at the corners and singing, “Chinese. Japanese. Dirty knees. Look at these.” and then pulling up their shirts… I didn’t understand exactly what was happening, but I knew Mai-Linh’s feelings were really hurt and the other kids made her cry because of how she looked. I didn’t get it because I thought she was so nice and pretty.

Thinking back on that time, I can only imagine what those 7-year and 8-year old bullies were exposed to at home (or elsewhere)… We are not born with hate and anger in our souls; that’s a learned behavior. But so many people, kids and adults alike, fear the differences, what they don’t know, instead of embracing and maybe learning something new, sharing a moment with someone different.

I’ll never forget Mai-Linh. She moved in the middle of the school year. Those same bullies made fun of my 7-year-old self in plaid pants that were a bit too short for me. They also made fun of my inability to understand basic times tables (a left-handed kid in a logical world – took me a bit). The year I turned 7 was the year I learned about meanness and ignorance, and I often wished I could go back to preschool, when kids were still kind to each other, wanting connection and play time, not caring about what the other person looked like.

I’m reminded of the 6 of Cups in the Tarot. It’s the joy and love of a child; creating those childhood memories we should all be allowed to experience, living life full of wonder and joy, as a child should. As I write this, I’m also being shown the way I see children on the other side. Those who have passed (in the womb or a few years after) show up in my mind’s eye as a perfect ball of light. They come across as being “untainted” by this earthly life, exuding the Pure Love of the Universe.

We are born full of love and wonder at the world. Although infancy is lived in relative ignorance, the fear and hate which emanate from ignorance, are learned. We are not born with a desire to kill, hurt, maim, or injure. We are born to LIVE, each and every one of us, and we should all be allowed to do that fully, no matter the color of our skin, our gender/non-binary, or our faith (as long as that faith is not injurious to others).

I’m praying for love now. Love for each other. Because when you love someone enough, all you want is for them to pursue their happiness. No. You don’t want them chasing happiness. You want them achieving it. Love means wanting others to achieve their happiness, and I pray that everyone, everywhere, receive joy and the love of their fellow human.

Please. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be joy. Be love.

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