I’ve been struggling with writing this post for a long time now but the more time goes by the more irresponsible I feel for not posting it.
I know racism still exists. I’m not ignorant of that fact. I remember a few years ago when I was driving up from Florida to visit my sister in Alabama who was in the military at the time when I was about to run out of gas. I pulled into a gas station and noticed a man pulling out of the same station having filled his tank. When I went in to pre-pay for my gas the attendant simply shook his head and said, “No.” I was shocked, humiliated, and scared that I would get stranded somewhere and after begging and pleading he was resolute and would not sell me any gas. I got in my car and prayed that I would make it to the next town even though my gas light was on.
I lived in Florida some time after the Cuban refugee crisis. I have no Cuban in me but yet I was called refugee all the time by other kids and some even spat on my desk. When I lived in Houston (even though I have no Mexican in me) I was called a wetback and folks assumed I spoke no English. When ignorantly asked I would always respond, “Most of the time!”
Was I upset at the time? Yes.
Am I still angry?
The reason that I’m not angry is that I know in my heart of hearts that these people did not represent what America truly is. I still believe that with honesty, integrity and hard work you can see your dreams fulfilled and move beyond the hateful rhetoric that fuels the rage which seems to be permeating the atmosphere right now.
When a heart filled with hate hears hateful words it only exacerbates the problem. Healing is pushed farther and farther away with every word of agreement until you reach the point of no return.
As a prose fiction writer and graphic novelist, I worked for 15+ years to get published. I have a file folder filled with rejection letters from agents and publishers but what is at the end of that folder is my contract with my first publisher, Markosia.
I keep that file to remind my daughter (should she ever need reminding) to never give up on her dreams. It’s been a tough road with promoting the work and getting it out there (it’s my first work after all) but I live in a country that allows me to do just that if I want to!
And speaking of those attitudes, too many of us forget the part about working hard. It’s not a handout. Please understand that by this I mean I don’t want those who genuinely need the help to get it. To the contrary, we should which is why my family and I go to the Nashville Rescue Mission. Sometimes we do need someone to get us going again. I have needed it in the past and was grateful that I got it.
Equally, you do have to work your rear off until you achieve your dream. My father once told me (it sounds better in Spanish, I have to admit) that “lazy people work twice as hard”. What that means is that you will toil in your efforts doubly if you don’t go about doing a thing the right way to begin with and with that I would add thoroughly and with passion.
In a spiritual context this can mean running from bitterness and resentment. Let those things go and follow your dreams. Don’t let yourself be blinded to what you or this country can become if you are ruled by rage. Don’t fall for the media hype stoking the fire of racism.
Where do I stand? I stand with the truth in whatever shape or form it takes. I choose to chase down the truth until I find it without prejudice. Seek it. Thirst for it. Crave the truth until you find it for yourself.
Whatever you’ve been through or what’s been handed down to you, hate doesn’t do anyone any good.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy books for all ages. For more info, please visit http://leonardoverse.com and sign up for the blog.
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