I recently typed "why is Louisiana" into the Google search bar, and the first suggestion that popped up was "Why is Louisiana poor?".

I clicked that suggestion, and it linked me to a Quora.com question/answer page.

Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. A vast amount of the knowledge that would be valuable to many people is currently only available to a few — either locked in people’s heads, or only accessible to select groups. We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world. - Quora

So Quora lets you ask questions, and then people who know more than I do about most subjects try to answer the questions to the best of their abilities/knowledge.

What were some of the answers to "Why is Louisiana poor?"?

  1. Poor leadership.
  2. Poor education.
  3. Gender wage gap
  4. Lingering effects of slavery
  5. Arrest/incarceration rates
  6. Racism

It's that last one that gets me. The rest of the "reasons" listed will take years to correct, but that last one can be fixed if we have a serious conversation with ourselves.

I love my home state of Louisiana, but I think that I have been giving it (or the people who live here) a "pass" for too long. Racism is rampant here, and I'm aware that it's not always a conscience effort: there are some parents who are blatant about their racism but others are teaching it to their kids passively: avoiding the black cashier's line, commenting on a black person's vehicle accessories, criticizing music genres, using blanket statements when talking about people of color. Kids pick up on those things and will learn to say the same, act the same, and pre-judge the same.

I have friends who claim that they aren't racist, but will spout the "N" word when talking about ne'er-do-goods. When I bring up the fact that they've used the word, they reply with "well, there's white "N"s, too!". When talking about political candidates who aren't well known, they will talk about their qualifications, and then say "but that one guy is black, so...". When I ask "so, what?", they say "oh, nothing, I was just saying that he's black, so I probably won't vote for him/her".  And that's an "Oh, nothing"??

This mindset didn't start yesterday. It started with our ancestors, and has become a tradition to pass down to our kids as much as anything else. We've come a long way since slavery (not quickly enough, though) but, until we can honestly look at our fellow man and judge him the way we'd like to be judged, we'll continue to be last, or close to it, and the laughing stock of the world.

You can be the start of faster change. Be mindful of what we show our children. In the words of Shawn Mullins:

He's born to shimmer
He's born to shine
He's born to radiate
He's born to live
He's born to love
But we will teach him how to hate - Shawn Mullins, Shimmer

We need to stop teaching them how to hate.

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