Rodney Dale Firefighter Yes
Rodney Dale
My name is Rodney Dale, and I was born and raised in Elkhart. Although it’s a small city, I truly love it here.

I work for the Elkhart Fire Department and have since 1996. My current position is Division Chief, which puts me in charge of all purchasing and training. My wife, Tanisha, and I met when we were 15 years old and had a son by the time we were 17. He is a college graduate now living in Chicago and teaching 3rd grade. We also have a 14-year-old daughter.

Writing has been my passion since I was a little boy, and I believe it will be until the day I die. My mom died of cancer when I was 9 years old and my dad had some issues at the time, so I was raised by my grandmother. The experiences I had growing up, being around diverse crowds and mentoring boys are the sources of most things I will write about. During my free time, I attend my daughter’s athletic activities, coach at the Tolson Center, mentor in local elementary schools, do lots of yard work and spend time with my beautiful wife.

If we’re being honest, prejudice and racism are in us all

Prejudice and racism are still problems in this country, whether we want to believe it or not. However, we can each challenge ourselves to recognize the issue and do something positive to change it. 

Posted on Aug. 5, 2014 at 4:09 p.m.

By definition, prejudice is a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience” or a “dislike, hostility or unjust behavior formed on such a basis.” Racism is defined, in part, as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” 

Rodney Dale is a firefighter for the Elkhart Fire Department and is a native of the town. In his community blog for The Elkhart Truth, Dale will share his musings on issues affecting the community.

I think that if we look at those two definitions and are being honest, everybody has practiced or is practicing what’s described. But when these issues are brought up, that “deer in the headlights” look appears on our faces as if we are surprised and confused that this is a problem America.

Whether it’s an African-American man assuming all elderly white men hate him; a white person assuming all African-Americans are academically slow or violent; someone assuming a Latino person is here illegally; or someone assuming people of other races are out to get him, it’s clear prejudice and racism are both still alive and well here. In a lot of cases it might be a subconscious thing, but I believe that how we perceive a person before we communicate with him or her will affect how well or poorly that communication goes.

Let’s challenge ourselves this week to openly admit the racial issues we all have and do something out of the ordinary to help eliminate them. Don’t be fearful if an African-American man with sagging jeans walks by – in fact, say a polite hello and smile. If you see an older white man, don’t immediately think he doesn’t like you – instead, ask him how his day is going and spark up a conversation. Employers, if you know your workplace isn’t ethnically diverse, hire someone you normally wouldn’t because of their race, open your arms and make sure he or she feels welcome.

Each individual should fight his or her own prejudices and give everybody an equal chance to do well, mess up and make amends. Life is too short for hate – and you might be missing out on a wonderful new friendship.

Would you like to become a community blogger for The Elkhart Truth? Get in touch with community manager Ann Elise Taylor at ataylor@elkharttruth.com.

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