Segregated Pictures

Can we have a conversation without racial overtones, or lamenting on how racism still prevails in our multicultural world?

Most choose not to, but practise racism anyhow, even unwillingly.

Derek was fed up with crime and grime in his neighbourhood.

He blamed its degradation on immigrants and African-Americans. Nurturing his hate, he joined a neo-Nazi organisation. When a black youth broke into his home, Derek killed him violently. P

Derek crossed his Rubicon after he was raped in prison by a fellow neo-Nazi. He learned that insecure fraternization in self-loathing and hatred are destructive in the extreme. Free, Derek, used his powers of persuasion to rescue his younger brother from a similar fate.

Brandon was born as a man in a woman’s body.

Like all other boys his age, he fell in love. Her name was Lana. Brandon’s story is one of internal and external torture. Owing to the challenges of his poor background, he could never have that life-changing operation which could have freed him. He had to live a double, secretive life. When he was found out, he was brutally raped and murdered.

Mookie was an unambitious and disillusioned young black man who delivered cold pizza’s for his hard-working Italian-American boss, Salvatore.

Disillusionment also grew within Salvatore’s breast. His oldest son, Pino, was lazy, worthless and racist. Out of anger and frustration over all of his short-comings and failures as a young man, Mookie burned Salvatore’s shop. Mookie was encouraged and helped by a horde of similarly unhappy black youths. Salvatore’s sadness grew. He learned that he was no less racist than others.

Some chose to blame the hot, unseasonal heat for their actions. But in a city that never slept, there were no angels. The neo-liberal DJ, Mister Love Daddy, took no sides in the mini-racial war which was a microcosmic image of what was wrong with American society. The elderly and drunken Da Mayor and the love of his long life, Mother Sister, were looked to for guidance, but having borne worse pains in their lives, they relented and joined in a violent orgy of racial hatred.

A young, Indian lawyer finally shed his legal cloth when he could no longer bear the pain of submitting himself and his chosen family to racial oppression.

He robed himself in a simple cloth, because he was a man of peace whose heart beat for the poor and dispossessed. He became a legend when he pioneered the disciplined act of non-violent protest and civil disobedience before his oppressors.

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The burning of his pass book was an act of defiance repeated years later by Sobukwe and Mandela.

He left Natal for India, the great land of his birth, and led its divided nation to freedom and nationhood. His ideal of a united India, free of racial and religious oppression, was never realised after a sectarian man murdered him.

Walt was a stubborn, independent widower and pensioner, a war veteran, set in his old-school ways.

He resented his selfish children and strangely different Hmong neighbours. His best friend was his dog.

Fate led a young Hmong boy to try and steal his classic, custom built Ford. Through his strange customs, this boy was taken under the old man’s wing. The young boy and his family were hounded and violently hurt by a rag-tag, loathsome gang who were no match for the old man who found redemption for all of his past failures and prejudices. Before giving up his life, he had begun a heart-warming process of acculturation and understanding of people he had previously hated.

A great man became his country’s first democratically elected president.

One of his first acts of office was that of unification. He used a sport of privilege to unite a racially divided nation. This unification was achieved after an unexpected victory, but the euphoria of victory lasted only for a few days and people returned to their segregated lives.

This great reconciler followed the example of seeking unity in diversity that another great man had forged upon his millions of followers. Today, they are no longer with us, but they are remembered.

For the surviving Jews of the Holocaust and their millions of descendants, Oskar Schindler is well-known.

This likeable, genial maverick was an unlikely practitioner of the wise Talmudic words of salvation. Today’s Jews also selectively recognise Schindler as one of the righteous, and yet there were many more like him.

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After witnessing the horrors of the Nazi atrocities against the Polish Jews first hand, Schindler risked his own life to save a few. Doing that, he lost all material wealth that he had accumulated.

Scout, a girl, came to terms with racism in Maycomb, Alabama, USA.

She witnessed first-hand the blatant racism of her fellow-townsfolk, all grown-ups, towards derogatorily named negroes who, because of racism, are forced to live on the fringes of their town.

Because of racism, a black man was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Fortunately, it was left to Scout’s liberal and righteous father, Atticus Finch, an attorney with a deep conscience which tells him right from wrong, to prove the black man’s innocence against racists who have used African-Americans as scapegoats to excuse their feelings of hatred and corresponding behaviour.

Arnold was caught in his mother’s closet while he was applying her make-up to his face.

This set the tone for his life-long battle with his mother for acceptance as a gay, American man. He found acceptance with Alan, a shy school teacher who became his reluctant lover. But because they were not accepted, homophobic men cowardly and brutally beat Alan up.

Sobering thoughts.

 

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