Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives here. See whose face it wears.
The inability to accept or even tolerate those who are different from us . . . encourages suspicion, fear, and resentment. Thus it is an illness of the collective psyche when different cultures don’t understand one another. The history of humankind is plagued by this psychic disease that has caused much pain and disappointment in the world.
Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.
The function, the very serious function of racism, . . . is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.
One can spy multilingual store signs in New York or Los Angeles, eat food from all over the world, listen to the rhythms of every culture and time on the airwaves, but the fires of nationalism still rage, and in the cities of the United States, blacks and Koreans and Latinos and Anglos live in anything but a multicultural paradise.
I was born in Honduras; that’s where I was born. I live in California, where no matter what [I] say, [I’m] Mexican. . . . You don’t understand that, white people, because wherever you go, you’re white. You’re here, you’re white. You go to LA, you’re white. You go to Denver, you’re white. You go to Miami, you’re still white. In LA I’m a Mexican. In Florida I’m a Cuban. In New York I’m a Puerto Rican. And when I come to Canada, I find out I’m an Eskimo.
If you want to know if racism is a problem in your country, you might not want to ask white people.
If you’re an American, you’re a racist. We’re brought up from the beginning to think in generalizations. . . . We rarely look at the individual. I know I’m a racist. You know how I know? Because the other day I caught myself being racist against myself. There’s so much shit going on, I got mixed up. Forgot whose team I was on.
My house costs millions of dollars. . . . In my neighborhood there are four black people. Hundreds of houses, four black people. Who are these black people? Well, there’s me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, and Eddie Murphy. Only black people in the whole neighborhood. So let’s break it down, let’s break it down: Me, I’m a decent comedian. I’m a’ight. Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R & B singers to ever walk the earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the white man who lives next door to me does for a living? He’s a fucking dentist! He ain’t the best dentist in the world. He ain’t going to the dental hall of fame. He don’t get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He’s just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the black man gotta fly to get to something the white man can walk to.
These conversations are always so tense, so painful. People are defensive. We want to believe we are good. To face the racisms and prejudices we carry forces us to recognize the ways in which we are imperfect. We have to be willing to accept our imperfections and we have to be willing to accept the imperfections of others. Is that possible on the scale required for change?
I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.
Light came to me when I realized that I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck and that was the only way I could see them.