Six babies are born in the U.S. on July 4, 2019. One is a blond white boy, one is a red-headed white girl, one is the daughter of undocumented Mexican parents, one is a boy of Middle-Eastern descent, one is an Native American girl and one is a gay black boy. All are healthy. The traits named above are innate and are not chooseable nor changeable.
These babies, all American citizens, if nurtured together in a pleasant bubble with pleasant parents who all like and respect each other, will accept each other as equals and will play happily together. They all have equal chances to accomplish what they want to in life.
When white people arrived in what became the United States, they began systematically to oppress, uproot, harm and kill the people who already occupied the land, Native Americans. They imported other people of color, black people, to be their slaves. They enticed other people of color, Asians, to come and build their railroads. They justified this by saying that the people of color were not really people or were inferior to them. This attitude has prevailed throughout our history in the forms of racism and prejudice. All of our six babies inherit the results of that racism and prejudice, which are often poverty, poor education, and unemployment … except, seemingly, both white babies.
The white girl born with red hair may be taunted and bullied for it by those who believe that red hair is evil. She and the other two girls inherit the entire history of humankind and the ongoing oppression and control of women by men. She will earn less money and get fewer promotions than her male peers just because she was born female. She will be considered not as smart, not as capable, not as strong as boys and men. Men may attack her sexually and blame it on her. Men will continue to try to control her reproductive system.
The daughter of undocumented Mexican parents will also live with the fear that her parents may be deported. The parents, who have lived here for a decade, can’t get a work card so that they can be normally employed. They pay taxes and work hard. They help in their kids’ classrooms. Some do work that no one else will do. The parents are not offered a path to citizenship, and their fear continues.
The boy of Middle-Eastern descent has benefits from being male, but he looks different. He is a person of color who, because of his appearance, may be labeled Muslim. Some of our countrymen have tried to make others hate Muslims, so our baby may be hated because he looks like he might believe in Islam.
The Native American girl is likely to live in poverty because white people oppressed her people and took their land. The culture and people endure but the people continue to scrabble to keep food on the table. Jobs have always been scarce. Some non-Indians admire the “concept” of the American Indian, but that hasn’t led to their rise from poverty.
Our gay black boy baby may not even get the advantages of being male because black males are killed at alarming rates. He inherits the results of slavery, mistreatment, lynchings, separate and unequal education, oppression, low-paying jobs (if any), and general dislike and disdain from some of the rest of the population. On top of all that, he’s gay, which is unacceptable to many others.
If any of our babies is born into poverty, likely for babies of color, that compounds the problems that come with their innate characteristics.
Shall we overcome the results of racism and prejudice? See next week’s column.