Racism: A Social Disease with Cure


Once more we see the ugly side of the american society when it comes to dealing with race. It has happened so many times since I moved to the US, almost twenty-five years ago, that eventually creeps on your nerves. When I moved here, quickly learned that the scale of skin colors is not really the issue, but instead it is the social background attached to each color, each complexion, each eye shape, each hair type. I was born white among browns, in a third world (approaching fourth world some say) country. In America, my Latino whiteness was not white enough to be considered a white person — I still remember the day when a co-worker told me “if you were white…” for the first time. It surprised me because my mom always referred to me as the “catire” of the family (“catire” means white skin is Spanish).

But again, the issue here in America is not the color, but the social message you display of yourself, even with the way you walk, talk, and glance at your surroundings. If you think more about this, you realize that we all discriminate. We want to be with people that we like, admire, and respect, rather than with people we dislike, criticize, or disrespect. So, we make choices every day and hang out with the first group, and avoid the second one. I would dare to call this a ‘positive’ discrimination (almost an oxymoron). However, the line is crossed when we harm –intentionally or by omission– those who we dislike, and this is what happened in the deadly shooting of Michael Brown this week. The line was, once again, crossed and have generated the response of the people in that community. This is definitely the negative discrimination we want to cure. Are they entitled to protest? Of course. Are they entitled to act with violence, break windows, damage property? Of course not. But I wouldn’t blame them for this reaction, as there have been too many Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown type cases that keep building anger silently in the black community. The president of the country, and the attorney general, both of black race have been relatively, and sadly, quiet so far.

Society needs to address this problem as a disease that has lingered in our lives for too long. We the “browns”, “blacks” and “Asians” will become majority by 2050 according to the US census projections, which means we could become an apartheid country with privileges for the minority at expense of the majority. The potential for more violent responses will increase with the number of shooting like the one that happened this week. So, the big question is how do we cure this social disease? I have two ideas, one radical and one fundamental. My radical idea is to create a mandatory two-year travel requirement for every american when they turn eighteen. It must be to another country whose people is of a race different to the traveler. It is like a mandatory military service, but instead of traveling with guns, you travel with the purpose of learning, for instance, another language, culture, trade, etc. Can you imagine the effect of this travel to every single american? Americans would become caring humans that see others as friends, respect differences, embrace languages, care for nature, and many more benefits. The second idea, more fundamental (and perhaps also radical), is to make higher education a gratuitous right to every american. Many countries around the world have this right in their laws. I personally received a full engineering career education paying the incredible amount of one dollar per semester (needed to print the ID card). As people become more educated, the field becomes flatter, opportunities increase, inequalities diminish, and racial discrimination becomes less and less predominant. Those are my two cents.

In the same line as in my previous writing, we are in the search for a better world without frontiers, religions, racism, with more humanity, and more caring for our planet.

Ciro A. Soto Aguirre©