Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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Forrest Gump is my kind of guy
“Forrest Gump” is my favorite movie of all time. Not because of Tom Hanks (though he showed great acting here!); not
because of the comedic scenes and dialogues; not because of the technical genius of the special effects director who was
able to insert Tom Hanks’ character into some historic episodes; and not even because of the beautiful Feather Theme
music by Alan Silvestri (though it’s one of my favorite piano pieces). It’s my favorite movie because it focused on a White
person from the South (Alabama) whose ancestor was a Ku Klux Clan leader, yet didn’t have any racist gene in his bones, nor
hatred in his heart against anyone whose skin is different from his. His best friend in the army turned out to be Bubba, a Black
guy, whose mother “served”  White families, just like her ancestors in days past. Bubba and Forrest had plans to jointly own a
shrimping boat after leaving the military, a plan that never happened as Bubba was killed during the Vietnam War. But Forrest
fulfilled the plan as he promised Bubba, and in the end helped “free” Bubba’s mother (and family) from the modern form of
slavery they were in.

This particular point in the storyline truly made a big impact on me. It served as my ideal, a realization of what Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. had wanted all along -- a society where Blacks and Whites live harmoniously and peacefully, with equal rights, equal
opportunities, as well as, of course, equal responsibilities. Due to centuries of being treated as non-equals, however, it has
been very very difficult for Black people to really be on equal footing with the White folks in our country. Thus, people like
Forrest Gump, if there’s any, could speed up the needed change through their own actions.

Forrest was “blessed” and his rewards came in many forms, despite his intellectual disability. His blessed character seemed
to reflect a lot of White folks’ career tracks; the major difference, however, is that Forrest had a good heart and no tinge of
racism in it. Which was not real; it was made in Hollywood.

Reality is much different and reality hurts a lot of people of color, not only Blacks. With Trump’s victory and his actions and
pronouncements that “segregate” and separate “others” such as the Muslims, the refugees, the Mexicans, and people from
countries suspected of coddling terrorists, the ugly head of racism is back (or, it never went away, it was just on hibernation).
White supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the Ku-Klux Clan come out openly and courageously, believing that Trump is with them.

The Charlottsville saga stemmed from the refusal of the White nationalists and Ku Klux Clan members to remove the statue
of Confederate General Robert Lee in the city’s Emancipation Square. They have held demonstrations earlier this year to
protest the city council’s vote to remove the statue, a symbol of what the South fought for during the Civil War -- keeping the
institution of slavery, the workhorse of the South's plantations that kept slave owners wealthy.

The most recent demonstration of hatred became deadly as three lost their lives: one, when a car rammed through the
demonstrators, and two police officers in a helicopter that crashed near the demonstration site. Hundreds were also injured
as counter-protesters showed up as well.

Violence has been erupting in America due to this open display of racism, bigotry, and hatred from the far right, the Whites
who strongly believe their superiority over all others, and who want to recreate their past glory in history and forcefully put
people of color to places they once belonged.

If Forrest Gump were a real person witnessing all these, his simple question would probably be:  “What is wrong?”  I would
answer him this way:

Almost everything is wrong, Forrest. Our society has become anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Latino, anti-Asian, anti-immigration,
anti-poor, anti-women, anti-old retirees, anti-social services, etc. etc.  You are such a blessed soul. You’re not worried about
anything bad happening to you. Blessings come your way without you asking for them. You're such a privileged citizen! You
are blessed, Forrest, simply because you’re White. The oddest thing is... you don’t even know it!

And I know how you'd react to me. You'd simply say: “Oh?” And perhaps you'd offer me a box of chocolates, quoting your late
mom's words, “Life is like a box of chocolates;  you'd never know what you'd get!”

Unfortunately for people of color like me, I do know what I'd get in America...and I got it all right. Fortunately for me, I have a
place to go back to. And there I can have a full box of chocolates all for myself, too!