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by Ron Cruger
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I was a deprived child. I didn’t get from my parents what most kids are given by their parents. My mother and father didn’t teach me to be a racist. They didn’t even bother to teach me to be prejudiced. My mother never pushed me down the street in a pram and told me, “Watch out for those people, like the ones over there on the corner. They’re different than us. Don’t trust ‘em.”
My father didn’t take me out to the ball game and in between innings tell me, “See those guys out there. They can run, but they’ll never be as smart as us. And the women – don’t ever marry one of them.”
I grew up a failure – I’m just not a good racist and I’m a flop with prejudices. My parents taught me how to use the proper knife and fork and they made it very important that I wear clean underwear every day, just in case I had an accident and was taken to the emergency hospital. Clean underwear was the first thing the emergency room staff would look for, according to my folks.
Mom and dad taught me that it was impolite to spit and rude to talk with my mouth full, but they were very neglectful about teaching me about bigotry, intolerance or racism. So, I had to go through life not understanding how to hate a man because his skin was darker or lighter than mine. I’m woefully ignorant when it comes to disliking someone if he or she comes from a foreign land and looks different than I do.
The closest my father ever came to educating me about people who didn’t look like us was one day, when I was seven years old. We were walking up the street, on the way to the bakery, when he saw a man cross the street just ahead of us. My dad put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Son, I’ve never told you anything like this before, but you’re old enough now. See that man, who just crossed the street? Don’t ever trust a man like that. Notice how close together his eyes are. Can’t trust people with eyes like that.” That was the full extent of my bigotry education.
What brings up my lack of understanding in this area is an article I read in my newspaper’s sports page. It was about Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) team owner Arte Moreno. The article stated that Moreno is the only nonwhite controlling owner in the major leagues.
The article went on to label Moreno as a Mexican-American. I presume that means that that part of him is Mexican and part American. What’s interesting to me is that they label him (oneword) “nonwhite.” I guess, using that logic, I could be called “nonBlack” or “nonAsian.” I could also be called a “Non-Mexican-American.”
Because I have a little bit more Melanin in my flesh than some others and because I’m in the sun a lot my skin is a shade darker than other, so called, white guys. So maybe I should be called a “Kind-of-white-guy.” Should a black man who isn’t real black be called a “Not-too-black-man.”
If the idea is to use shades and colors to identify each other we really should be more accurate. Because the world has become smaller and more people of darker skin are marrying people with lighter skin and producing some children of medium tone skin we should create a new nomenclature to describe our fellow men and women.
Because most of the world enjoys a good cup of coffee I would suggest that we categorize people by how closely they resemble the color of a particular cup of coffee.
For example, the headline about Angel owner Arte Moreno would read, “Arte Moreno, mocha java shaded man, owns the Angels.”
A story about current President Bush would read, “George Bush, Latteccino colored President, gives speech.”
Reverend Jesse Jackson, who appears to be wherever trouble exists in the world, would cause headlines such as this, “Jesse Jackson, an espresso Macchiato shaded man appears at meeting.”
If we’re so interested in identifying our fellow human beings by the color of their skin we should do our best to be accurate. Thanks to firms like Starbuck’s, almost everyone knows about the various types, styles and colors of coffee. Let’s use those colors to describe each other.
Let’s get rid of the appellations that depend on race, national origin, genetic features and sexual orientation. They can be hurtful and inaccurate.
Let’s use names we identify – we all know people we could say look like “Espresso Ristretto,” “Café Amaretto,” “Black Forest Mocha,” “Café Frappucino,” or “Café Au Lait.”
Personally, I’d rather be identified by the color of my skin compared to a nice cup of coffee than have someone call me, “That guy over there with the dark skin, whose grandmother was from Poland, who has eyes too close together and looks almost nonwhite.”
I can hear them talking about me now, “Hey, there goes Ron, the ‘coffee frappe’ guy.”