It is sad commentary that in the year 2019, we still see examples every day of racism, bigotry and ignorance that – sometimes intended and sometimes not – hurts those offended by it and smears the character of those so willingly pervasive in sharing it.
Some of the related firestorms in recent years remain mired in emotional public debate, such as the differences of opinion centered on Confederate monuments, police shootings and immigration. No easy answers come with one-solution-fits-all applications.
Yet other examples of racism leave no excuse for misunderstanding other than pure ignorance, indifference or insecurity.
The trendy course of cultural division these days in our nation is that of so-called blackface.
If you want to know what it is like to live with black or brown skin, there are much more meaningful and sensible conduits of information and sensitivity than smearing your face with shoe polish.
Furthermore, it is bad enough if a case of blackfacing occurred years ago, but it is even less accepting today in an age of mass media and social media where there is no excuse for not understanding that such an act is offensive.
Why, some might still ask, is it offensive?
It conjures up racial stereotypes from history, memories, and insults to the black race that hearken back to the days of slavery and segregation.
Days when street shows, theater productions and later movies and television all performed entertainment acts using white actors poking fun at the plight and expense of dignity for blacks.
But the problem is not that simple. It gets more hurtful because in most cases, there are additional racist overtones with it; often blunt, inappropriate language or name-calling.
Such was the case this week when a local high school student posted a photo of herself after having applied a cosmetic mud pack to her face and then saying “Is this what being a n----- feels like?”
It garnered enough attention that the school system, admirably so, immediately released a statement declaring it was “aware of an inappropriate post on social media” by one of its students, that an investigation is under way, and that the post “does not reflect the school system’s statements of belief.”
Yet, others still sadly are proclaiming that all of this is much ado about nothing.
We have enough problems in our society today that we shouldn’t offend or be insensitive to our neighbors just because they are black, white or different.
Instead of borrowing a person’s skin color to find out what it’s like or to portray a lifestyle, perhaps instead it is their shoes that should be shared.
Metaphorically speaking, just a short walk in them might go a long way.