Every country has at least one point in their history that they feel ashamed of. Germany's got Hitler, Russia's got Stalin, Japan's got Pearl Harbor, and America has...racism.
A few years ago if someone would have asked me, "If you could choose any decade to have grown up in, what would it be?" I would have probably answered the 50s and 60s (not the 70s though, haha, skip those and head right into the 80s ;)). I really love the clothes, the cars, the music from that time. But being so naive at the time (I'm not saying I'm not naive anymore...) I never realized how terrible of a time it actually was.
I mean, of course, I learned about racism in school, but what we read in school has never interested me as much as what I read in my free time (I always say that once a book becomes an assignment, and has a deadline, the fun is gone for me), so it never really clicked in my brain. I have always known how terrible racism is, but even today I can't help noticing it still being around in our world.
I live in California and being right next to the border of Mexico we have a lot of Hispanics who live here. In elementary school everyone would always play together. Ethnicity didn't matter back then. We were all friends and just wanted someone to play tag with.
However, once we hit junior high and high school things changed.
My high school was very clique oriented. I hated it! High school was living hell for me. People were changing here and there, doing drugs, talking behind your back, talking about who hooked up at this party and that party, and who was pregnant. The entire high school was separated in individual groups. There were the "stoners/skateboarders", the jocks/cheerleaders, the "troubled" kids (who were trying to rebel against their parents, the outcasts (what a lot of people would consider "geeks" and "nerds"), the music department/dance crowd. And then there were the Hispanics.
I know it sounds like something out of a bad teenage movie, but my high school actually was like this!
There usually wasn't a week where there wasn't a fight against a white person and a Hispanic person.
I had friends here and there, talked to all of them, including some the Hispanic ones, even if got me some weird stares, but I just wouldn't let something like that get to me.
Reading the novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett put things into perspective even more for me. Even though things have changed into positives in many ways, we still have many negatives that need to be fixed. And even though Racism has become much less of a problem as it was 50 years ago and before then, it's still around today.
Hearing the stories in The Help, for instance of a black man using a white persons toilet and getting beaten until he was left blind, broke my heart. And even though the book was fiction, I know that stuff like that really happened!