Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My experience with prejudice

There will be a positive impact against race and prejudice with the next President being the first black man to fill this role. My own experience with prejudice was in elementary school in the 60's. Back then your ethnic background your religious choice were what defined you. I am a mix of Polish,Dutch,and German. My mother was a rejected Catholic and my Dad a Methodist ( I thought). Turns out he was raised Lutheran but referred to himself as just spiritual. The reason I thought I was a Methodist is, my grandparents would take me to church once in a while. That church was a Methodist church at the corner of their street, so that is where I went. My family as it turns out were kind of ahead of everyone else in understanding that all the Christians were really in the same group or at least focused on the same goal! My mother was rejected from the Catholic church because she married a Lutheran. This had a huge impact on her and it carried over to the way she raised her three daughters. I was brought up to have a curiosity about all religions and view them as an outsider. My Catholic friends would take me to church. They would try to teach me their prayers. They always reminded me that "you know you are going to hell because you are not a Catholic". As a child that can really give you nightmares! Growing up in a primarily Irish/Italian Catholic neighborhood was to say the least a challenge on my self esteem. They were the majority while I was the minority. The most negative thing that I had going for me was that out of all three ethnic backgrounds somehow I was The Pollock in the neighborhood.I don't know how this happened because my name didn't end with "ski". Back then one of the first things people would ask you was what your ethnic background was, then what religion. I must of innocently answered the question to someone and it stuck. My mother was pure Polish. Whenever I would come home and tell her how the kids called me a Pollock she would say, be proud! We are good and strong people that have suffered great indignities. (sounds like the Jewish people,African Americans,Chinese ect.)Well everything changed for me in elementary school when the Italian Pope died and they elected to every ones surprise a Polish Pope. Even though I wasn't Catholic this meant so much to me. How can you pick on me for being Polish when the Pope is Polish I would say. I would say we are good people!I didn't even grow up with other Poles or speak the language and here I am speaking on their behalf. This Pope turned out to be a great leader. Thank God!! His leadership gave me self esteem and pride. My group had a place in this Society because we had one of us in a great leadership role. I wasn't less than the others or the dumb Pollack anymore. I was still going to hell but now I could do it with pride! I think about this and see Barack Obama as this same kind of leader for not only the black community, but all those that have felt less than because they aren't white. As time has gone on, my lack of religious affiliation isn't important anymore. I think Pope Paul did that too. He brought his brand of religion together with the other Christians. Most important, he also reached out to all the other religions beyond Christianity. He stood for people to be good to one another no matter what their views were.He stood for Humanity and civility. My school mates that picked on me didn't do this because they were exceptionally mean children . They did it because they didn't know any better. Raising the consciousness of how our actions have a negative impact no only on us but the people around us should be our priority. We stand for Freedom and Democracy, doesn't it begin here with simple humanitarianism! I have high hopes that Obama can do this too for our culture to make us one people as we should be. My experience is nothing of what the Black American has struggled through. They had to raise themselves from slavery over two hundred years of struggle. In 1863 when President Lincoln signed the Bill of Emancipation giving them freedom they rejoiced. Their rejoice came to an end as they were held down by lack of education,employment and the simple right to vote. I will never compare my simple ethnic and religious struggle to the plight of the Black American. This is a monumental moment for them. I do understand from my little experience with prejudice the pride that they are feeling. They have a great role model in Barack Obama along with many others like Colin Powell and Condolessa Rice. I hope this can be a new beginning in a more civilized America. With that said I will talk about being a women in a male society during to 60's and 70's another day. You can contact me at

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