Bigotry 101

Racial tension looms in the air,

Attacking students like the humidity

On a hot, sticky Georgia day.

Walking without the shelter

Of your own insulated world—

Realizing that you are a part

Of this microcosm of America

Called a university—

The heat of racism

Beats down upon your skin

And slowly boils,

Making the resentment and hatred

Gradually ooze from your pores.

The faster you try and wipe

The perspiration of prejudice away,

The faster the drips of discrimination

Fall from your brow.

After a while,

The stench of ignorance

Inevitably permeates the air.

And with no place to run for cover—

Or salvage even the slightest bit of comfort—

You receive your first lesson in futility.

But still,

You run—

Hour upon hour—

Attempting to escape

The bigotry based upon bogus foundations.

In your final moments,

You realize that you had the power

To prevail over the ill-founded injustice.

In this bastion of knowledge

You could have opened your narrow mind

And your hardened heart.

But now,

You fall…

You lie

With closed eyes.

by Phillip McCullough Jr.

I wrote this poem back in the late 1980s while at the University of Georgia. Higher educational institutions are hotbeds of ideas, feelings and emotions.  Sometimes college is a mental crossroads where young minds must confront, hold dear, or reject the values that they learned as children.  This is true for people who victimize, and people who are victims.  Sometimes these people may be one and the same.

Leave a Reply