On Feb. 21, six members of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College Republicans departed the university to head to Chicago where we would eventually fly to Washington D.C. for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). This conference is dedicated to raising more awareness about the conservative ideology as well as promoting the conservative agenda.
This was an amazing adventure and opportunity which was a great way to observe what life in Washington DC is really like from the political figures to everyday citizens. We stayed in a house, rented through Airbnb, an online travel group, off of Minnesota Ave on the northeast side of the city.
When we got off the train, one of the first encounters we had was with a few African-American women who told me that I should take off my “Make America Great Again” hat because I would be “beaten up.” This was the first negative encounter I had ever had in regards to any political apparel I own, and I own a lot.
I quickly removed my cap and continued on my way with the other members of the group. We made sure that after this encounter, no one in our group wore anything that was related to our President or the Republican Party while out in public around the house.
We continued on with our own business, like going to the conference and exploring throughout the week, not bothering anyone and staying to ourselves. It was labeled as a “quiet community” on the site, which was not too far off besides the occasional cat call or attempts to sell us illicit drugs.
We had been greeted throughout the week by “hellos” and “good mornings” by older women heading home from church, or the occasion police officer, but a real shock came on the forth night of the trip when a car slowly drove by us and stopped.
At this moment, we had seen quiet a bit and really didn’t suspect anything odd about this action. Two windows rolled down and two men popped their heads out of the car.
The first thing one said was, “are those white people?” drawing me to look at them. The next one began and said, “ya’ll are brave. You [are] going to get murdered” and then they sped off.
Up until this point it was always said that only white people can be racist. It was assumed and seen in the media that when it came to discrimination, only white people can discriminate as it is impossible for a racial minority to be racist.
This first hand account of discrimination made me start to think; why can one group be racist towards another without being called out on it or it being looked at as a problem? How can we assume privilege when we have seen time and time again that privilege is not dependent on race?
It began to make me think of why we are consistently taught by others on the left about how we, the racial majority, can only be the ones who are inherently granted powers that no one else can have. Why can’t other groups be racist or openly discriminatory?
I, having the first hand experience of having someone only generalize and stereotype me because of my race, believe that racism is not just subject to minorities, or other marginalized groups, but everyone. I am sure I hate being called “white boy,” which happened on the metro on day five, just as much as someone else would hate being called “black boy” or “Asian boy.”
Racism is racism, there is no guidelines or exceptions. We have to start calling it like it is and admitting that no form of racism is appropriate.
If the left truly cares about the wellbeing of everyone, they would start to follow the ideas of the right and treat everyone with dignity and respect. We would teach that no one is better or worse than another and that we should all be treated the same.
This idea pertains to the idea that you should treat everyone like you would the boss or CEO. We should ignore the differences of our skin, but celebrate that we are all the same, at least, on a human level.