There has been a lot of talk about racism and The Hunger Games. The New Yorker has a blog about how often in literature we imagine characters to be white until proven black. And Jezebel.com posted a story about how many viewers of The Hunger Games movie have posted racist tweets. For those of you who don’t know, Suzanne Collins explicitly states in her trilogy characters Rue and Thresh are “dark-skinned” but somehow that escaped many readers’ notice. What’s so appalling is some viewers said the movie was “ruined” because the characters are black. And that because Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad. This is going to sound strange but I’m inspired by all this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT inspired by the racism that’s being displayed, I’m inspired by other people’s response to that racism. I’m inspired that there is outrage. I’m inspired that the twitter accounts of those who posted racist comments have been taken down. I’m inspired there’s a lot of fuss – and rightly so – about the idea being black makes a person less innocent.
It wasn’t so long ago racists were the majority in this country. It wasn’t so long ago lynchings were a common practice and newspapers advocated for mistreatment of others. The fact that now racism is so denounced, that it is so politically incorrect is an amazing thing. Seriously. I know we’re not making as much progress as we’d like, but I’d rather focus on the fact we’re making progress at all. Jim Crow laws no longer exist. The majority of people are loving, compassionate, and more open-minded than not. I think that’s been illustrated by the outrage at the comments people have been posting in regard to The Hunger Games.
I’d also like to point out racism is a belief and beliefs can be changed. It’s not a disease. It’s not something you have or you don’t. Racist people can change their minds, see the error of their ways, because more often than not it’s due to ignorance. They’re stereotyping out of fear, they’re not seeing a person as an individual but rather a category. I’ll even admit here that when I was younger I was a little bit racist. I used to stick to certain circles and not stray far from them. That all changed when I went to the National Conference for Community and Justice’s Camp Anytown. Sometimes you just don’t know better and you need to be taught. But that’s the point – open-mindedness can be taught. When you undergo exercises showing other people have experienced similar things even if they’re a different race, it builds understanding, and compassion. Racism cannot exist in those circumstances and that’s what inspires me.
I dream of a world where we continue to eradicate racism. A world where we understand all of us bleed, all of us have hopes and dreams. All of us are people. I dream of a world where we can see each other as individuals. A world where we see people for who they are. A world where we value a person’s heart over the color of their skin. A world where we come together in the spirit of unity, acknowledging we are all brothers and sisters.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.