Like a thermostat, racism has been on the rise this summer. Or at least the media has been reporting more incidents of it. It’s been brought to the forefront of our attention spans and seemed to with begin with the drama surrounding Sotomayor, then moved to the kids in New England that were banned from the pool, and now our President and the Ivy League professor. As a twenty-something, I don’t get it. Even though we briefly studied racism in America in high school and college, I don’t understand why it still exists today. I hate racism, slander, supremacy, or any word or action that puts someone else down. I love ethnicity because it’s fun, it challenges us, and it gives us perspective. If we were all alike, life wouldn’t be enjoyable. We need all 32 Baskin Robins flavors, because not everyone likes, vanilla, chocolate, or bubble gum! When I worked at Macaroni Grill, I had to take over tables from an African American on two occasions, because of the guest’s complaint to the manager. One of them even went home afterwards and sent an email to the corporate headquarters writing, “we do not come here to be served by ‘those kind of people.’” I was shocked! For a while she and I didn’t get along that well because of personality differences, even though she always had the most happiest and cheerful dispositions. On those two occasions though, I remember watching the happiness and the cheerfulness disappear from her disposition like the fading of a rainbow. I could tell that it wasn’t the first time and that it wouldn’t be the last. After those occasions, I made a conscious change and decision on my part to get along and befriend her. At times it was really a challenge for me; and not because of race, but whenever our personalities clashed, I had to remind myself what her face looked like when I had to take over her tables. That single reminder helped me understand that while we’ve all come a long way, we still have a far way to go, and we all have a part to play I was in a small little town in the bush of Madagascar and I walked into what I can only equate to being the general store. I stood there patiently in line to give them my order, even though the locals kept jumping ahead of me, and especially starring at me. It was quite the experience. After a while though, I just pushed my way forward and asked for a bar of soap in the native language. They gave it to me and hurriedly too! I later found out that they were all afraid of me! I couldn’t believe it…I was the only white guy in a room full of Africans; they outnumbered me by 10 to 1. It was such a weird experience to be on the receiving end of racism. But a lot of my ignorance on the subject was removed… I leave you with these two thoughts. The first is from Yoda, “Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering.” The second is from 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I wonder how many of our actions whether they have the best of intentions or not are based in fear. Maybe Sotomayor lived in fear all of her life, maybe the pool supervisors acted in fear. This summer though doesn’t have to remain one burdened with racism, let’s operate in love and not let fear lead to suffering for anyone.