I grew up very much like the dad in the story. I grew up in a town where twenty years AFTER the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the only doctor’s office in town still had separate entrances for whites and “coloreds”. Then I joined the Navy, traveled the world, and was forced by my experiences to unlearn my racism.

Racism doesn’t require malice. It only requires untoward assumptions about those of another race. That’s why, even if you’re the nicest person on the planet, you can still be racist.

Before I continue, understand this: ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is only the lack of knowledge of a certain fact. You are not stupid…but you certainly are ignorant, just as ignorant as I was when I joined the Navy.

In case you’re wondering why I keep pointing out the Navy, it’s because of something that Mark Twain pointed out several generations ago: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Do yourself a favor and travel. And when you do, don’t stay in the touristy areas, but out where the people really live and spend their lives. You’ll find — as I did — that while cultures and religions may be wildly different, the people are just like you and me.

But one warning — once you do that, you’ll see your response to the author in a wholly different light. That is, if you’re intelligent. And lucky.

Written by

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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