This morning, while doing my daily catch up on the news around the Internet, I came across an article entitled White Applicants Blast FDNY After Being Denied Entry To Preparation Class. The article basically told about a training class that was being conducted to help prepare people who had applied for employment in the New York Fire Department. The class was being conducted by the “Vulcan Society,” which is a group of African American firefighters. Unfortunately, the course was not open to white applicants. Based on the article, I am not sure if the class was open to all applicants except for whites, or if it was only open to black applicants. Perhaps Hispanics, Asians and others were accepted, the article does not really say.
I am a bit conflicted in my feelings about this article, and the training session in general. Generally, I am opposed to any kind of racism, and this was indeed racism. The fact that eligibility for the class was based on a person’s race could be nothing but racism. I have only one other thought, though, and it is based on this quote from the article:
Joseph Basile was one of those who didn’t get in.
“It wasn’t a good feeling. It felt like it was discrimination,” Basile said.
In some ways, I feel that it is a valuable experience for white people (like myself) to experience racism themselves, because it is a real learning experience.
Why would I say such a harsh thing? I know that this statement will be controversial among those reading it. But, you see, I have experienced racism. It was a valuable experience for me, and it helped me learn what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my race.
How was I discriminated against?
Well, as many of my readers know, I am an American, a white person, but I’ve lived in the Philippines for about 12 years now. Basically, there are very few white people here (or blacks for that matter). We are a very, very small minority of the population. As such, there are times that I am treated in some way only because of my race. When I first moved to the Philippines, it took a while to realize that this was happening, but when I did, it made me feel really bad.
While I have never been a racist before, I would say that we all have some, hopefully minor, racist thoughts or tendencies from time to time. There was a time when I was a teenager that I lived in an area that was still very racist, and through peer pressure there were times when I said or did things that were racist, albeit minor things, nothing too bad. And, I am not blaming my peers for what I said or did, but only giving that information as a point of reference. I never really thought about it, though… until I was treated in a racist way a few times in the Philippines.
Looking back at my past, when I did racist things to a small extent, and then was treated in a racist way, it really opened my eyes. Even though things I have said in the past were very minor, I am sure that the people I said those things to many years ago were hurt deeply. Or, maybe they are just used to hearing such things, because they get it so often. But, being on the receiving end of racism opened my eyes and my heart to realize and accept that I did wrong in the past.
So, when Joseph Basile in the article, whom I presume must be white, since he was denied entry to the firefighters class, says that “it felt like discrimination,” I feel that in some ways it is an educational experience for Mr. Basile, due to the reasons I gave in the previous paragraph.
But, as I said at the beginning of this article, overall I think that the class was a very bad thing since it was closed to people of certain races. Racism is never a good thing, and we should all strive for equality in our thinking and our actions.