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Conference: Making the Peace: Eliminating Racism
The following transcript was recorded on

Wednesday 19th November, 1997

with Hugh Vasquez of The Todos Institute
(find out more about Hugh Vasquez and the Todos Institute in our Solutions in Sight story here)



©1997-2017 Electric Eggplant




Log file opened at: 11/19/97 6:03:44 PM

LilyCCC: ***************************************

LilyCCC: Welcome the TheInSite!

LilyCCC: Our Topic: "Making the Peace: Eliminating Racism"

LilyCCC: Our Guest: Hugh Vasquez of The Todos Institute

LilyCCC: Welcome Hugh!!!

LilyCCC: ****************************************

LilyCCC: We are talking about eliminating racism

LilyCCC: with our guest, Hugh Vasquez!

LilyCCC: If you have a question or comment for Hugh

LilyCCC: please type in a ? and we will add you to the question

LilyCCC: list. We will get to everyone in order so please be

LilyCCC: patient! Again! Welcome!

LilyCCC: *****************************************

LilyCCC: Hey there Hugh and welcome!

LilyCCC: Hugh..what would you like to say to open?

Hugh: Hello everyone, I'm going to start with a few comments about racism. then I will stop and let the chat room comment. Here we go.

Hugh: I want to say a little about racism and this time of year. This is a time when I get a little depressed because we have had Columbus Day, and we are now going into Thanksgiving. It is a sad time because it is a time when native people welcomed strangers and ended up getting a lot of mistreatment.

Hugh: I have two young children who bring a lot of stuff home from school about the colonists and the indians. But the truth is rarely told about what happened.

Hugh: So I want to remind everyone that there is a legacy we all have of racism, but we also have tried really hard to stop it. We have to get the poison out of our culture and heal those who have been hurt by racism and then I think we can learn to live well together. Amen!

LilyCCC: Yay Hugh!

Hugh: OK, any comments? What are you experiencing today about racism? What are you doing to change things? ga

BluesCCC: Well said, Hugh

AnnieFox: I was just listening to the radio on my way home. There was a report about the refugees in the former Yugoslavia trying to return home now that the overt fighting is over, and I couldn't help but think how pervasive the divisions between peoples are. It makes me sad to think of all the work that needs to be done- overwhelming!

AnnieFox: But not undo-able!

LilyCCC: Annie....very true. Having to fight to return home...

LilyCCC: Right Annie!

AnnieFox: And what are they facing when they get there? Other people have taken over their homes, and they are still not welcome.

Hugh: There is a lot of work to be done, and I also know that people are working really hard to change the face of racism. ga

LilyCCC: Hugh..what is the true story behind Thanksgiving...was it as we all learned? The shared feast? Great question, Lily!

tiskTISk: yes...very interesting

Hugh: Well, I can't say I know the true story completely because I got the same stuff everyone else got; but, I do know that the sadness about this holiday is not so much about what happened on Thanksgiving, but what happened later -- taking over land, destroying tribes, and all that stuff. So, this holiday is a reminder to native people of the destruction.

Hugh: I thing I mostly want people to realize that as many of us celebrate this holiday, many others are feeling hurt by the reminder.

femmenino: I'm an expert on racism, but I've never chatted before

LilyCCC: Hugh....I have never seen this holiday as the insult it is to natives. It makes me feel funny celebrating it now. Actually femmenino said that he/she is an expert on racism.. I wanted to hear the comment from him/her.

Jessica: well I am glad to say that I am not racist

AnnieFox: Hugh, I know that Todos has been doing this kind of work for about 15 years. That's a lofty goal, and I'm wondering if you have seen positive changes amongst the young people you work with.

Hugh: I see young people fighting for justice every day. Not just racism, but for fair treatment of everyone. I am really inspired by young people. And at the same time, I hear young people asking for help. What help do you all need in order to end racism where you live? Great question!

BluesCCC: Excellent..

AnnieFox: Sometimes they need help making their parents understand, that it's all right to have friends of different nationalities!

Hugh: I am interested to know if any of you see racism happening around you today? ga

Hugh: Femmenino, you said you are an expert. What do you think we ought to be doing about racism? I spoke to high school students last week who really did not believe they had racism in their school.

femmenino: racism is an inherent human trait. You cannot eliminate it, only intellectualize it.

Hugh: The interesting thing is that the youth of color in the room saw things very differently. Hugh, did you see femmenino's comment?

LilyCCC: Oh my.....

silentbOb^: no, prejudice is inherent, racism is not. It is the brutal manifestation of over-zealous prejudice- and its bad

LilyCCC: silent..I agree.... I don't think either is inherent... both are learned and can be unlearned.

LilyCCC: To be born with hate? No...we are not.....

cameo: Prejudice is an environmental trait not a genetic trait...

Hugh: Well, I think racism is not inherent, that is, we are not born racist, but we learn it from the society around us.

BluesCCC: agree totally, Lily

Hugh: Femmenino, do you think you came into the world already prejudiced?

femmenino: we are born genetic nationalists.

cameo: we are born, then we are taught nationalisms

Hugh: Femmenino, that's an interesting comment. Could you say more about genetic nationalists? What do you mean?

LilyCCC: femminino? Would you like to comment more?

LilyCCC: Hugh,we spoke last week of this medium,

LilyCCC: and the ability it gives us to chat..without caring about color or nationality...

LilyCCC: Do you think this medium can be used to help kids end racism??

femmenino: You are born with a drive to advance your genetic/racial heritage. This will be at the expense of all others- realize this, and then grow to more noble deeds

cameo: to be born ...is to be totally innocent ....there is nothing in the brain chemistry that has anything to do with nationality...color or any thing else

Hugh: First to Femmenino, I want to thank you before I forget, for your honest thoughts. Now, I think that nationalism, race and all that is a social construct. That means it is all made up anyway. We are all of the human race aren't we? And racism, nationalism just makes us forget that we are all humans. ga Good point, Hugh!

LilyCCC: Yay Hugh!

tiskTISk: Going back to Hugh's question....In my community we need a little more of a culture mix

webs22: you can never totally eliminate racism I'd love to hear Hugh's response.

Hugh: webs22, I do not think we can eliminate racism right away, but I do think we can for the future -- and, I think that the survival of our planet is dependent upon ending

webs22: we can't erase hate

Hugh: oppression in general. There was a time, a long long time ago when racism did not exist.

webs22: especially racism

lowrider-o: We can't erase hate, so we try to erase race.

Hugh: I would disagree that we can not erase hate, because I have seen very hateful people become very loving

webs22: I have many white friends

Hugh: after they see the truth about what they are doing. For example, I worked with a young man who was a white supremacist, who was raised to be a white supremacist, but changed his ways to the point where he started working to end racism. He ended his hatred of people of color.

AnnieFox: That's wonderful, Hugh! I love to hear stuff like that.

cameo: I have two brothers that are Latin. I was accused of being racist until I told the person of their heritage...and that my other brother is married to a very sweet lady of color. After that I was treated with contempt. It's funny but to me racism is just another way of people trying to have control over others.

magger: I have many black friends including my husband. and we live in a small town.

Azrael: It's not a matter of whether a person is willing to change or not, because if there isn't someone there to alter another's opinion, it doesn't matter

cameo: There is no excuse for racism....none....it's just something to take away from time that should be spent building friendships.

webs22: but this girl in school hits me if I listen to "white music" because she thinks "I'm one of them"

tiskTISk: ack I agree, cameo... 100%

magger: I think there is more racially prejudiced people in small towns than in large ones!

LilyCCC: cameo..very true.... Yes!

cameo: I didn't see a person of color until I was 13, even then I didn't see any difference between them and me

Hugh: cameo, that's the beauty of youth -- that you didn't see a difference is wonderful, any ideas on how we could make that keep inside of you forever?

lowrider-o: Darker colored races look meaner, I mean, you know, tougher.

cameo: I wish I knew Hugh, but my children see racism as a personal fault....not something that just is

Rik: racism IS a personal fault

Azrael: I haven't been following the comments too closely, but I think that racism is simply a matter of influence. A person who was taught to hate can learn to love, and vice versa, but not everyone is offered the opportunity to change.

LilyCCC: Azreal..very well said!! Excellent point, Azrael.

magger: I agree too

Hugh: Azreal, I think you are right. and I have a question for you. What helps people to change? Has anything every helped you change?

AnnieFox: Hugh, to answer your question, I've had a change in feelings about people when I've had an opportunity to get to know them.

AnnieFox: What do you say to a teen who is having difficulty with parents... who don't like the idea of inter-racial dating?

Hugh: I must say it is a little close to home because I tried to do inter-racial dating in high school but was told by a white family that they did not date Mexicans. And did you pursue the relationship anyway? Of course!

Hugh: This was very hurtful to me and I walked around hurt, but not showing it to anyone. My advice to youth -- Let someone you know, someone you trust, know what happened to you. Ok, I always ask this question towards the end of the conference -- What can you do this week to help end racism? Hugh... what would you have said to your parents, if they objected to the girl you were dating based on color?

magger: I married a black man 3 years ago. Since then I have never been treated so badly from the public. It's very hard for me not to throw remarks back at people. They are so cruel. And my husband is very well known in this town. We have really seen a lot of changes in our so called friends. See people as people... not part of a "group"

LilyCCC: Hugh.....I can try to help my kids see what happened to the Natives after Thanksgiving..that the story didn't end there...

Hugh: If I had good communication with my parents I would say that it is not right to believe that and ask them where they learned that junk. Ha! From the mouths of babes! I like that. Because it is junk!

BluesCCC: Annie... when we want REAL honesty... ask the kids!!! Sure, Blues.

LilyCCC: Right on, Blues.... true.

Hugh: magger, sorry to hear that, I know the feeling cause I've been there too. Thanks so much for hanging in there on this conference. Every little bit helps to end racism Peace.

BluesCCC: Hugh .... another one well done..... and very nice to see you again....

LilyCCC: Thanks Hugh..so very much!

magger: it's not the families with the racial problems, it's the public!

LilyCCC: maggers...families are society..... Thanks for your time, and your wisdom, Hugh. Good bye everyone... Bye! Spread the light!

magger: thanks Hugh

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