Racism Encounters I Have Experienced

Hilbert Morales EL OBSERVADOR RACISM, as such, will never be eliminated. The best we can hope for is to create a social environment in which it is minimized and...

Hilbert Morales


RACISM, as such, will never be eliminated. The best we can hope for is to create a social environment in which it is minimized and rendered harmless. But, racism, by its very nature is harmful, based upon ignorance, fear and a need to ‘feel superior’ or be in control. Racism is immoral, unethical, and violates several Christian dogmas.

THE SELF APPOINTED GATEKEEPER: This is the racist individual who was a V.A. administrator (1949) who asked me, when I applied for my GI Bill Education entitlements, “Are you college material?” My response was to ask him for the meaning of this query. While he was expressing his desire ‘to save the government money’, I asked him if he was an appointed university admissions officer. When he replied ‘No’, I asked him to do his job, process my GI Bill education papers which I would need at the university as evidence that I was qualified to receive GI Bill education entitlements. This individual was reported by me to his District Agency’s Director. He had ‘discouraged’ several veterans of color to not go to college…for which they had met all admissions requirements.

Gatekeepers are everywhere. When I reported to my appointment as a staff chemist, a department head approached me to ask “Are you a Mexican?”…Yes, was my reply. “Well then, you should know that it is our firm’s policy not to hire Mexicans.” Fortunately, the person who had hired me came up the corridor where this brief conversation was occurring. So, I introduced my “gate-keeper” questioner to the individual who was my appointment authority while briefly relating what had transpired. My boss asked me to leave…and then proceeded to reprimand this ‘gatekeeper’. Again, that gatekeeper was discharged shortly thereafter for being incompetent. In his fear, he had tried to limit his job competition to caucasian competitors.

Racism, bias, prejudice and nationalism will always exist. However, in our American society, where our founding governance documents proclaims that ‘men are all equal’ (under the law) and each of us has the right to pursue ‘live and liberty’, it is essential that our society identify ‘racial gatekeepers’. They do exist in professional organizations (unions, schools, companies). They can be and must be identified and neutralized. That may only happen if the recipient of ‘racist remarks’ has some degree of personal emotional knee-jerk reaction control, and in his/her mind, accurately records what transpired and reports the incident to the appropriate authority…today that could be the corporate official in charge of achievement of ‘labor force diversity’.

If the gatekeeper is not identified through submittal of credible comments (specify date, time, place, and content accurately), then that ‘gatekeeper’ stays in place where he/she holds back the development of an accepting and receptive society.

It is not enough to experience and report racism incidents. One has to look inward into oneself to remove the tendency to use racist terms which do exist and today are very subtle. I never confront a suspected racist…rather I have learned to ask “Is it possible for us to have a fair & honest relationship?” Racists will invariably deny being racists.

Racism need not be confused with ‘not liking’ a person…or not wanting to socialize or associate with an individual. Each of us has our own ‘likes and dislikes’…mine is ignorance; an unwillingness to share essential information already in the public domaine. Racism is abrasive and requires a level of alertness and awareness to locate or identify. In this Silicon Valley community, certain firms and organizations find ways to keep professional persons of color from full achievements in their profession…and that is very wrong or even destructive. If you are a racist, learn to be tolerant; to keep your racists thoughts to yourself; and to allow others to rise to professional achievement levels based on their knowledge, experience, and merit. It is the least a racist may do. Learn to be considerate, kind, and ‘let us live and let live’…I am not asking anyone to ‘like me’…just do not feel that you (the racist) has a right to control, define, and assign me my role in this meritorious society.