(CBS Charlotte) — It’s hard to believe that in today’s day and age racism still exists in America — but it does. The fact that racism continues to persist in our country, is downright shameful.
Racism is an ideology — it is not based on factual information, but rather by misguided opinions and viewpoints. It’s fueled by ignorance and persists because, after centuries of slavery and oppression amongst the African-American population, it is deeply ingrained in American history.
Growing up, I attended school in the Northern part of the United States with Caucasian children and African-American children. In our early years, white children and black children were both taught about our “different” races, but we weren’t phased by our differences — for the most part, we were all friends.
As we continued on in school, I didn’t see an African-American person when I talked to one of my black friends — I saw a person. I didn’t notice their skin color, I only noticed them. The same goes for my white friends.
I hadn’t really thought about how I view race until just recently. A local news story caught my eye about a woman, Heather Edmunds, who was recently the victim of racially fueled messages on Facebook.
After I read the story, I turned to a co-worker who is African-American, and we had a conversation about it. And while I do know that my co-worker is African-American, I’ve never once seen her as “a black person.” To me, she’s a person — just like everyone else.
While it is important to celebrate our individual cultures, etc., it’s also important that as Americans, we embrace all cultures. After all, we live in the melting pot of the world. And in the end, “we all bleed red.”
I understand that we all have our own beliefs and opinions, and that hate is taught, but it’s really difficult to fathom how a Facebook user could racially and verbally attack another user — especially considering that it was unwarranted. And, it gets worse. Another website, stormfront.org, known for spreading “White Pride World Wide,” started a thread about a “Race-mixing mom starting an anti-white Facebook Group.” The Facebook Group, which Heather started after she was verbally attacked on Facebook, is called “Stop the Hate, Spread the Love.” It is not against any race, but rather the goal of the group is simply to spread love, not hate.
Heather, the victim, is a local mom in Huntersville. Heather is white, and her husband is Biracial. Together, they have a precious little boy.
Here is Heather’s story:
My name is Heather Edmunds and I am a wife to my best friend, Calvin who I have been together with for six years; married for four. I am also the mother to the most precious baby boy Braeden, who is 8 ½ months old. My family is my foundation and my strength. My husband has always pushed me to stand up for what I believe in and hold firm to my beliefs.
Recently, I was on a local yard sale page through Facebook looking for some different things to add to the new house my husband and I are building. A lady had been posting expensive pocketbooks on the page, she posted them several times and no one was biting. I simply wrote on the wall of the page to her, maybe if you lowered your prices, more people would be interested.
People come to this page looking for discounts and bargains. She replied stating it was none of my business and I had no right to bully her. I apologized and asked that if she wanted to continue the conversation that she private message me. About 10 minutes later, I received a slanderous message defaming myself, my husband, and unfortunately, even my child.
Q. Can you describe what happened in your online dispute?
A. The woman, a stranger to me sent me a message calling my husband and son names and telling me that by marrying outside my race, I am a disgrace to society.
Q. Was the woman who verbally attacked you on Facebook White or African-American?
A. The woman was white.
Q. After you received hateful/racist messages on Facebook, did you respond?
A. When I first received the message, I started shaking in disbelief that someone I did not even know would be so hateful, especially over a simple hand bag comment. I went from shock, to mad, to hurt — all in about five minutes. I called my husband right away and talked to him about it, and he of course told me to just shake it off, and that “people will say things, and you can’t fix people who think that way.”
Q. Where do you think racism comes from?
A. To me, racism comes from bottled up emotions from people who are either bitter from an incident similar to this, or someone who believes that a particular race “owes” them something. By that I mean, regardless of black or white each race has people who believe that the opposite race owes them something, when in reality we are all people, we have come so far from where we used to be and instead of moving backwards, we need to keep moving forward.
Q. Why do you think racism persists?
A. I am really not sure why racism persists. I would love to say I have this immaculate answer, but I don’t. I just know that we are not born with hate, it is learned. So if we worked harder on teaching our children to love and not hate, maybe in generations to come this issue would be resolved.
Q. If someone says something similar to your son as he gets older, what would you say to him?
A. When it comes to my son, I want him to know that insults are insults. Just because he is biracial does not give someone an open door to criticize him even more. Technically, unless you were a Native American, we all came from somewhere and are “mixed” with different cultures. My husband and I will raise him to know right from wrong, and to know when to speak up and when to hold his tongue.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish with your Facebook Group?
A. With the Facebook group, my overall goal is to bring more awareness that racism and hate in general are still a big issue today. The group is for hate in general, not just racial constraints. There have been stories posted about children being bullied, same sex relationships, religions hate issues and more. I want this group to be a place where people can say “I have a family here, if nowhere else that accepts me for me, no strings attached.” The group is up to 1361 members as of March 15th, and is constantly growing. I want to continue to get the word out and in turn, hope that people will start to spread the same love and passion that I have. When it comes to the group, I am nowhere near done yet, I have plans to organize a walk for love, and hold some other possible events to bring awareness as well.
(Upon receiving the hateful messages, Heather went to the Huntersville Police Department to file a complaint. However, she was told that there was nothing the police could do because the woman did not threaten her.)
Q. Are you frustrated that the Huntersville Police Department wouldn’t do more to help?
A. No, the Huntersville Police where just doing their job. I admire the men and women who serve our country and county. The police cannot make up the law as they go along; they gave me helpful advice, were extremely nice, and insisted if I had any more problems with this woman or if she did threaten me to please let them know.
Q. Since the incident happened, have you had any contact with the woman?
A. I have not heard from her, nor have I contacted her.
Q. Did you contact Facebook about the unsolicited messages?
A. I have not yet contacted Facebook, I did message the administrator of the yard sale group, which they declined to respond to me.
Q. If you could tell racist people one thing, what would it be?
A. My one thing is simple, life is too short. We are born and we die, sometimes too early. At the end of the day, we all bleed red. People should be viewed as people; their race, heritage, ethnicity, social status, religious preference, and even sexual preference all make that person unique, but still a person. We need to get passed all the hate, and realize we are a new generation, and instead of fighting each other we need to fight together. We can get much more accomplished together than apart.
It wasn’t really a question, but I was recently messaged and called a “racist” myself; irony, right? Regardless, the individual who I do not know stated that my actions show I am only supporting African- Americans. I somehow want to make it crystal clear; I support people who spread love not hate, regardless of race or ethnicity. I may be Caucasian, but I am fully aware that each race has good people, and bad people. The point is for everyone regardless of racial backgrounds, is to come together and stop the hate.
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes…but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.” ~MLK
-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte