In this country, America, most of us have heard, seen and/or experienced the pitch of the hateful siren known as Racism. For example; Some person hates some other person because they are a different skin color, maybe they possess anywhere between one to a few dozen stereotypes associated with said race, maybe they have X amount of [Insert Racial category] friends so they feel a certain amount of responsibility (?) or justification to make a generalization about an entire group of people.
Historically, just about every racial group has experienced their plight with the subject; it’s all been condensed into television specials, documentaries, or just colorful slurs that decorate mob dramas. Now, present day, the issue is still examined, still pined over by race sympathizers, still deflected by the seemingly patriotic and old-fashioned, still aggressively and hatefully debated by scholars, morons, educators, idiots, teenagers, adults, etc., and so forth. The issue of race, an important issue that is worthy of a discussion, worthy of the attention to call-to-task such a menial and ridiculous concept, worthy of at least a healthy debate, has now devolved into being a little less than a glorified talking point. And fortunately, there is a solution. There are TWO cures for racism: Natural Disasters and Terrorist Attacks. That’s right. Allow me to clarify….
Me, I live in the Rockaway section of Queens, New York, and in 2012, New York City was one of many cities obliterated by Hurricane Sandy. A notoriously Irish neighborhood, Rockaway Park, formerly and commonly nicknamed the “Irish Riviera,” due to its historically large Irish population, this area absolutely DOES have its racist undertones complete with scoffs and passive aggressive eye-rolls, Stop-and-Frisks and evidence of racial profiling even experienced by this article’s author. But when the storm hit, it hit in an unpredicted and unprecedented way. It destroyed homes and misplaced many residents, me included, and claimed lives that either fancied themselves braver than an impending storm or people who simply had no other alternative to claim refuge. This all happened at the first turn of fall temperatures.
Let’s also take the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, for example: The worst attack on US soil that claimed the lives of countless thousands both killed in the attack and the brave souls who were victims of an inadvertent biological attack due to toxic inhalation in their rescue and relief efforts. The domestic reactions were all the same: This is a national tragedy. This attack would instigate and escalate a war to be fought into the next decade and the next presidency and would claim another countless amount of lives. But in the first twinkle of fear, tragedy and hopelessness, in that first tragic glimmer of horrific television coverage and confusion amidst the chaos that formed on the scene, a strange thing happened: There was no racism.
Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, residents tried to forge a new plan of action to adjust to the loss of electricity, heat, food and shelter. These people, White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian, all huddled together under blankets in the cold dampness and traded storm stories while sharing food donated from the Red Cross. Parents of all colors watched each other’s children, assisted each other both on and off the local buses once bridge access was restored to the island and talked each other through their own psychological and physical trauma of having experienced a truly significant disaster.
11 years earlier, Manhattan, New York, the area teamed with trust and rescue as White saved and assisted Black, Black saved and assisted White, Hispanic saved and assisted the Jewish, and whatever color you belonged to in the racial rainbow was suddenly inconsequential. And from it, a funny truth amid the tragedy revealed itself: We’re all human beings helping human beings. Racism is funny like that.
I am not someone that will say that because you’re racist or think stupid things about other races that you are, indeed, a horrible person. I automatically dislike you, yes, but to say that I am not guilty of my own racial musings from time-to-time would make me and you, the reader, a hypocrite. In the end, race is just the convenient excuse that blossoms from our fear of difference to keep us conditionally and continentally divided. Yes, race does need to be discussed to bridge the racial gap, but is it really going to happen? Or, more importantly, does it even matter? In the end, the instincts of decency are still very intact in us all because no matter how racist of a scumbag you’ve been bred to become in your misunderstanding of the world, when tragedy rings, I mean when it really matters, we all answer the call.
Brandon Perkins is a Hip-hop Artist and Guitarist, creatively known as Priest.