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Fair Game - All equal
Philip Fairbanks.png
Philip Fairbanks

Last week I learned that a friend of mine (I don’t want to mention names or identifying details to protect his privacy) dealt with a frightening incident of racism in town. I’m going to omit any personal details there as well. Suffice it to say, someone took offense with the color of his skin. My friend did all he could to avoid any incident or altercation, in no small part because he had his small child in tow. Luckily the situation was resolved with no blood being shed, but it is a shame that as far as we’ve come over the years and decades there are inhabitants of our county who would wish harm or death upon a person they know nothing about simply due to race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. 

It’s 2023, but next year is only the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act that decided it wasn’t enough to say all men (and women too for that matter) are created equal. Especially if some men (and women) by dint of their ethnic origin and pigmentation weren’t able to drink from the same water fountains, or use the same restrooms and restaurants. And desegregation by no means ended racism. Neither here nor abroad. Apartheid in South Africa lasted up to the 1990s. There are still oppressive second-class citizen Apartheid states functioning to this day. So I don’t expect that the problem is over and done with. What I would like to see though is for us not to fall back on all the progress up to this point.  

Even if you take race, religion, politics and anything else divisive you can imagine out of it, mutual respect makes life so much nicer. There are millions of ways for us to divide ourselves and find reasons to mistrust or mistreat each other but, in the end, it only increases the sum total of suffering for everyone. Another friend of mine once referenced what he calls “The Barbecue Rule.” If you’re at a family get-together or roasting weenies over a campfire in a mixed crowd it’s often best to leave controversial topics like religion or politics by the wayside.  

It’s kind of sad to see, honestly. I’m biracial myself and remember being called slurs occasionally mostly when I was younger and still in school but I’ve also been called names by passing cars when just walking a sidewalk in this town in the past. Especially in the last 15 years or so, the division in this country has reached a breaking point. Terms like “national divorce” have been bandied about by some referencing the idea that the cultural divide in our nation can no longer be bridged. I certainly hope this isn’t the case because it would be a massive shame to see decades of civil rights work swept away. In some ways, it seems like we’re moving backward. According to the founding documents of this nation we are theoretically created equal. Let’s start acting like it.

Standard reporter Philip Fairbanks can be reached at (931) 473-2191.