Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Racist Attitudes

This post was written yesterday.  I have no clue what my motivation was.  At one point in the day it felt right to delete what's written here.  I asked myself why it is that I reveal more and more about myself here.  Why?  But this morning it's another day and it seems like the right thing publish this.  For whatever it's worth here it is:

The title of this post got  your attention, didn't it....

Ever think about where racist attitudes originate?  It's an easy assignment:  In the home.  That's where most everything originates.  After all, children do learn what they live.  And live what they learn.

Take Bob for example.  Short story here.  Bob never knew his father.  Father split the sheets with mother before my birth.  Never met him.  Never saw him.  No contact which is probably all due to the wishes of my mother and not my father.

Six months after my second birthday Mother dated and married a soldier assigned to a Nebraska airbase.   The three of us moved to California.  When I entered school my stepfather's surname was entered as my last name on the enrollment papers.

 The relationship between stepfather and stepson was never a good one.   Never.   I was beaten with belts, hangars, sticks . . .anything the old man could get his hands on.  The old man wanted complete submission and obedience from Bob.  That's something he never got.

The last beating nearly came at age 15 when I told the old man that if he laid another hand on me that he'd get a fist coming back at him.  That was when stepfather shoved me through a closed window breaking all of its glass which fortunately did not inflict too many cuts on my body that were life threatening.  That was the end of the physical abuse.

Following my stint in the military I immediately enrolled in college and worked in stepfather's supermarket.  It wasn't long where the bad blood between the old man and I began to boil once again.  I was fired from the job and became estranged from the family all due to the wishes of stepfather.

During the estrangement one of my first thoughts was to lose the last name . . . a name that really wasn't mine to begin with as no formal proceedings were taken to change the birth name to stepfather's name.  It was then that I decided to assume my birth name.

Me:  I'm dropping the last name and taking on Watson.  That's how it should have been and that is how it's going to be.

Mom:  Why would you want to do that?  You don't really want to take on Watson, do you.  Mostly colored people have that last name.

Me:  So what?  That is so untrue and so very racist.  Lots of people of color and no color have the name Watson.

Mom:  Well, you wouldn't want to be associated with THEM would you?

Me:  If you're talking being associated with black people then hell yes.  If I had the choice I'd be black.  I hate being white.  Besides anything would be better than who I have been linked to this far.  Gee mom, how you can you say such a thing? 

Mom:  Because it's true. 

Me:  Watson is my real last name and that's how it's going to be.

And it was.

In the house that I grew up in there were more than a few racial slurs.  As I child when these words came from from mom's mouth of stepfather's I always thought how stupid and ignorant the two of them sounded.

Despite what I had heard in the home that there were always friends of color in my life during high school, in the military, college and later in life.  Once in a while one of the stupid racial things mom or stepfather used to say pops into my mind.  They just do.  I think to myself - where did that come from and then I remember all of the shit ass things my parents would say about people of color.   But the cool thing is I don't live that, subscribe to it nor has racist lingo or racist thinking been passed on to our kids or to our grandchild.  Simply put, we're breeding racism out of our family.

One day every family will be like that.


Joker_SATX said...

It scares me sometimes how your life and my life run in parallel. As opposed to a step dad..I had a real dad that behaved that way in my youth. However, my Dad came to terms with his misgivings and realized the errors of his ways. Now we are the closest of family.

This is a good story to tell Bob. I am glad to see that at least you have superior thinking to your mom and Step Dad...and that is what it is all about...how we think of others.

Good post....

La Roo said...

It is amazing what is past on through families and very empowering to see someone put a halt to it. Ignorance is such a nasty thing.
I'm so sorry you went through what you did as a child.
I think it is more common than what is spoken.
Thanks for putting it out there.

DNA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DNA said...

Good for you. You can see that we too have gotten rid of it in my family. :D

Phoenix said...

Awesome post. My father was incredibly racist (and abusive), having learned both from his father and so on and so on.

Damned if I'm gonna repeat those same patterns.

PS Found your blog through the Joker's, nice to meet you :)

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