I have not traveled too extensively, but I have been to 46 of the upper 48 states and I’ve met people from the other two. I have had conversations with many people from many places and there are a few things I’ve learned about people in general. One of the items I have learned is that people are generally afraid of what they don’t know. The vast majority of people calling for all “illegals” to be kicked out of the US probably do not have any personal relationships with anyone with brown skin. I would be willing to bet that the people holding the “god hates fags” signs, do not live in gay friendly communities where all people are accepted. Here is a perfect example: September 11th, 2001; I saw the second tower fall, I smelled the gunpowder in the air, my neighbor from two doors down was killed, and multiple friends who witnessed flying heads and other body parts were permanently changed. I was scared. I remember not being able to fall asleep unless the television was on; if it wasn’t, I’d wake up at three or four in the morning wondering if we were again under attack. I would read articles and watch the news and see people from all over the country – all over the world even – saying “we are all New Yorkers” and it moved me. It was amazing to see hundreds of millions of people all as one, all crying for the countless lives affected by that horrible day. Then, suddenly these people turned into blood-thirsty animals, bent on revenge. They weren’t sure who did this or why, but they knew that someone had to pay for it and when they were told it was Afghanistan, all of these “New Yorkers” jumped on the bomb Afghanistan/Iraq bandwagon. Funny thing was that almost no one from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut who I spoke to felt this way. They all wanted to recover from this event, they wanted to understand why it happened, and hardly ever did I see that hateful look in the eyes of real New Yorkers.
Now it’s almost ten years later, the US is still at war with Afghanistan (along with Iraq, Pakistan and maybe Somalia), and news has surfaced that a group of Muslims would like to build a mosque a few blocks from ground zero. The people of New York were generally accepting of this proposal and it was not a big deal. Then, some churches (and very quickly after that, politicians) from not New York decided that god-hating, child-killing, devil-worshiping Moo-slims did not deserve to have a mosque anywhere near the site of the destruction that they were all involved in creating. The media, doing what they are trained to do, picked up on this story and it became national news. It’s a mid-term election year and, just like with gay marriage and torture, this mosque became a platform on which to run. There are hundreds of people throughout the country protesting the proposed mosque, but I would be willing to bet that the percentage of them who were directly affected by 9/11 is virtually nonexistent.
I guess my point here is that way too many people are ignorant, and it’s these non-thinking buffoons who scream the loudest and seem to get the most attention. The people who live or have lived in a place like NY City are some of the most accepting people in the world. The people, who, throughout the course of a regular day, hear dozens of different languages, see all sorts of skin colors, and who can walk from a Puerto Rican neighborhood to a Jewish neighborhood to a black neighborhood in minutes. New Yorkers learn to accept that the world is made up of many different people with many different views. They also understand that just because someone has a different view or worships a different god does not make them evil. I’m not saying that NYC is perfect, or that racism and the likes do not exist there (I know a lot of racist, sexist, homophobic people in the NY area), but my point is that people who know people of color are a lot less likely to be racist, as people who have a close friend or relative who is gay are generally not homophobic. I ask all these people holding signs and yelling at people who are different from them, to walk a few miles in the shoes of the people you hate. I bet that hate will slowly turn into understanding.