By: Daniel Otero
To love one’s country is one of the greatest treasures in a human’s life. And as travelers or globetrotters we learn from distant-foreign lands and living how to recognize the good and bad from every place.
Doing this over and over while in China and even before coming here has been my own mental exercise and life’s work!
I’m proud of the United States. It’s one of the great countries in the world for freedom and multiculturalism. While living in China and learning from this society, I often like to compare on the social issues affecting a society. As a person it keeps me in check from all the rubbish, and it expands my mind into the reality of things.
When Marvin Gaye said, “What’s going on?” Oh man, brothers and sisters, he was so right! And what has been affecting our society in America are the four ever expanding problems that are continuously growing or declining (take your pick) since the 1980s (my generation, by the way): obesity is through the roof at 67% (by chugging down too many McDonalds and KFC), our drug war and culture, foreign policy with other nations and ‘sticking our noses’ where it doesn’t belong and last but not least, gun control and violence, topic I’m writing about today with the issues of racism.
The aggressiveness of Americans is really no big deal, most Yanks are friendly and we are the land [after all] of eternal optimism. If you work hard enough and you are from any part of the world, you can make in America. After all, we are an immigrant culture and nobody can deny, the opportunities we give to our foreigners. Those opportunities are and have been given to Yao Ming, Joan Chen, Bruce Willis, Arnold Swarchenegger and Heidi Klum. The same have been given to millions.
Anyway, enough with the philosophical gibberish; the topic for today is gun control, racism and violence. The problems miring down the over-reactive police force back in the States and ‘shooting first and asking questions later’ (with a touch of the Dirty Harry mentality); especially, when those kids are minorities and more so, when those kids are African-American. It seems we never got over the color of skin back home and still Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” resonates in my mind.
Today I talk about also the great African-African community, for those racist here in China and back in America. Yes, they are grand community and please don’t tell me when you are using your prejudices against blacks by saying, “Oh, but I have black friends!” Or for those that fear what they can’t recognize and understand, possibly a person hasn’t ‘really’ had black friends or sat with them at a dinner table or shared socially in their homes. For those that say, “I’m not prejudice!” Shame on you!
And I answer back, “What a crock!” Yes, these great people that gave us Capoiera (if you’re from Brazil), R&B, Rock and Roll and Rap. The greatness in Harriet Tubman, spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. With other things like soul food and talented men and women like, Denzel Washington or Halle Berry.
We can’t forget the Tuskegee Airmen, heroes of the Second World War or the minds of great writers, like, Maya Angelou. And who can ever forget the great journalist and actress, Oprah Winfrey (Color Purple and The Butler).
So many things given and how under appreciated they are… We still treat them as minorities, stereotype, isolate them in neighborhoods, poverty and sentence them already by the color of their skin!
And still we ask, “Why are blacks so angry?” Well, for one, the European and later American- Caucasians enslaved them for a period over 400 years, killed 30 million of their ancestors on ships across the Atlantic Ocean and that’s something not easy to get over. Later, the ‘all mighty South’ continued to segregate and marginalize them for another 100 years with Jim Crow Laws and still we ask, “Why are they so angry?” The answer is pure and simple when a young-black man gets angry, arrogant or violent against people and authorities. The answer is they are tired of being abused and stereotyped. Therefore, in anger they’ll carry their blackness like ‘chips on their shoulders’ and as a sign of pride.
Did you know that an African-American is stopped by the police eight times more than white people back in the States!
But for those that say and especially those that never travelled to the United States, “Oh, America is so dangerous and racist!”
My rapid answer is, “How do you know? If you haven’t even travelled to my country…” Especially, for those from China that love to isolate themselves into their communities, ‘point the finger’ to judge, stereotype and never come out to discover or travel the world!
The reality is far different than what it seems, especially today, 91% of America is safe. Biracial relations are better than ever, almost becoming the norm. The other 9% is what makes it dangerous and it’s only isolated incidences that the media loves to give a huge hype for their ratings! This nine percent [of gun violence] that people are so afraid of occurs usually in isolated communities, where the poor and frustrated live and the opportunities are few. And these communities can be anywhere from poor-white folk, Latino or African-Americans. Inner-city mentality that usually concentrates in few but certain areas in cities like: New York, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles. You can’t blame a minority for their behavior if you don’t give them a fair chance, with a mixture of good parenting and proper education. There are no guarantees in life, “Only death and taxes!” (Benjamin Franklin).