Actually, it was more like January 1987, five years after the floods that I mentioned last week. Actually, both the weather and the date are irrelevant. It was a long time ago, but at the time, it was the present. We lived in it. We had some minor plans for our futures and careers, but not much more. We were more concerned with enjoying our next few years at college.
At that time, my experience with racism was limited mostly to the animosity of a few of the older generation for the Vietnamese refugees whom I grew up with. Observing comparably limited but similarly barbaric behavior directed at my colleague because of his African American ancestry was like a different flavor of the same old hooey.
Our parents raised us better than that because of the time that they lived through. My colleague’s father graduated from law school and eventually became a Los Angeles County Judge through the Civil Rights Movement. Our parents did not want racism to be as difficult for us as it was for them. It was not. However, a few older people within our Community were still quite comfortable with their outdated racism.
Sexism was a completely new concept to both of us. Women’s liberation started about the time we were born, and had evolved significantly by the time we were in the third or fourth grade. However, we attended a college that had been an exclusively men’s school only three decades earlier. A few of our oldest professors were students there prior to that, and resented the admission of women.
Both racism and sexism have improved over the years, although racism fluctuates significantly more, and made a resurgence in recent years. However, about a decade ago, discrimination against the impoverished and unhoused became much more prevalent. It is as if those who hate must hate someone, or a group of someones. If they can not attach their innate hatred to race or gender, they direct it to a particular social class.
Fortunately, this sort of discrimination is declining much more readily than other forms of discrimination. After only a decade, it is beginning to become vilified like racism and sexism should have been a very long time ago.