“Race” In Dickinson, North Dakota

Regardless of whether I like or don’t like African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Lesbians, and Gays, I try to be fair.  I don’t care who it is that is operating a cash register, a taxi, or a tractor truck as long as they are doing an O.K. job.  I understand that our backgrounds, experiences, culture, values, and beliefs are different, and we are never going to look at everything the same way.  I don’t mind that others see things differently.

Sometimes in the past, I have been able to talk to people from different countries about what things were like where they came from.  I had a friend from Germany, a couple of friends from France, Czechoslovakia, Libya, some friends from Canada.  They didn’t mind being asked about what it was like where they came from.  They enjoyed talking about their families, the food, what they liked to do.  You could say that they were proud about where they came from, and that they had had good experiences.

I had friends who were Chinese, Vietnamese, and Lebanese.  These friends would only talk a little about where they came from and what their families were like.  You could say that they seemed to be not very proud of where they came from, and to not have positive experiences that they wanted to share.  But, they weren’t indignant and hostile about it.

You could see this paragraph coming.  Being around African Americans, Hispanics, and Lesbians, when I try to have ordinary conversation about ordinary things, they are analyzing every word and trying to detect if any word could be racist.  Lately, it is difficult to have any conversation with these groups because they are so eager to leap to the conclusion that you are being discriminatory.

For instance, Hispanics protested when a talking Chihuahua was on a Taco Bell television commercial.  It’s a Chihuahua that talks, how is this racist?  Some college campuses had theme parties where students wore sombreros and mustaches, and this was protested by Hispanics.  Why are sombreros and mustaches racist?  When people dress up as cowboys, bikers, construction workers, ballerinas, mountain men, vampires, nerds, geeks, Goths, …no problem.

After the Civil War, and up to the Civil Rights Movement and the Equal Rights Movement, people wanted to be treated equally.  I think that things were headed that way, that people were paying less and less attention to race and skin color, it was beginning not to matter.  However, I think that things like Affirmative Action started to force people to pay attention to race.  People began to demand and expect preferential treatment because of their race.  I think that other legislation, such as “Hate Crimes”, began to cause even more attention to be paid to race.  Hitting someone is assault, shooting someone is murder or attempted murder, there are already penalties for these crimes, race shouldn’t make any difference.  There has been such an increase in bringing attention to race and differences in people, that I think people are getting along together much worse

Though I don’t want to be unfair with African Americans, Hispanics, and Lesbians, I have never been more uncomfortable dealing with them than I am here in Dickinson.  I have never seen these groups more eager to find fault with what I am saying than I am here in Dickinson.  Though I think that individuals in these groups think that they are going to benefit from scrutinizing what other people say, and finding something wrong, the end result is actually going to be that people don’t want to have anything to do with them.  They will find it more difficult to obtain employment and housing, not because of their race, but because they are found to be so difficult to get along with.


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