Friday, April 13, 2007

I'm A Recovering Racist

This race thing is tough to tackle. Are you a racist? Are you prejudice? Are you ashamed of your race?

Do we ever answer these questions honestly and thoughtfully?

My feelings on the issue of race are varied and confused. To answer the question, am I a racist. The definition of racist is as follows; a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. I don't think that the race of people derived from African decent (Black) are superior to other races. In theory - I don't. However, when I consider the treatment of Non-Whites by Europeans, and people of European decent (White), I conclude that there is something different and bad about a people who could, did, and continue to do such things. Which in essence makes me a racist.

That is how I view White people as a whole. Which makes me also prejudice. The definition of prejudice is, bias, a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation. I am partial and I am biased. But, how could I not be partial and biased.

When I look at the trees and not the forest, I see something different. Something not so cut and dry. I have a co-worker with whom I'm very close. She is white. We laugh and talk all day long. We share our problems and deep secrets. We are supportive of each other and even pray together. I feel genuine concern for her and her family, and I think the feeling is reciprocated. Here's the thing. She does not think people should date interracially. Specifically, Black and white people. When I questioned her about the grounds for her thinking, she says, she was raised to believe people should marry within their own race. Her father was a blatant racist and spouted negative rhetoric about Blacks. This woman is in her 40's. She has lived long enough to learn that everything she was raised to believe is not necessarily true. When we discussed it further she went on to say she knows she is prejudiced, and she wishes she could be different.

It's very hard for me to marry the concept of my friendship with this woman and her not thinking I'm good enough to date a white man. She has even said that I'm different. I asked her how am I different? She said, "you don't talk black, and you don't act the way I expect a Black person to act." If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I am proud of who I am - and I don't pull punches because of the particular company I'm in. I laughed at her perception of me as "different." (I guess different does not mean equal.) I explained to her that "people" are different. White people are not all the same and Black people are not all the same. Then I felt very sad. That was a sad conversation to have with someone you consider a friend.

I have hope for a different kind of world. But, I think it's "a silly- just not ready to give up" hope. I'd like to see White people differently and for them to see Black people differently, I just don't expect it.

Again, race is a tough thing to tackle.


West said...

This is an amazingly perceptive, candid, and very real post.

Miz JJ said...

I came here via West. Great post. Thought provoking. I guess everyone has their own baggage to carry.

B. Good said...

I also came here on West's recommendation. I agree that this is a very open post, and incredibly honest.

I've had similar conversations with my non-black friends who were amazed at how "different" I am from other black people. And I have to remind them that people are different in general, and I'm no exception to any rule in regards to black people, because there are no rules.

Prayerfully, over time, these deep-seated racial lines (and gender lines, and cultural lines) will begin to blur, and people can just be people. I believe it will happen, eventually, in someones lifetime. Just might not be ours.

Angie said...

West- Thanks. This is a subject I've been grappling with for sometime now.

miz jj - I've been reading you for a while. You're on my blog roll. I think I found you through West too. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for stopping by.

b.good - I, like you was in amazement about being "different." I wanted to be insulted, but I couldn't because I know she didn't mean it with malice. Also, I give her props for being open and honest enough to talk with me frankly. I know that she trusts me enough to share her feelings. Even if they are not PC. Thanks for stopping in. Come back again soon.

Tibias said...

Angie; You and your co-worker are, IMHO, staring at the same ugly weed from opposite sides of the yard. In fact, this weed is a central part of this yard that we all live in. We all have to deal with it to one degree or another.

I think, however, the important thing to grasp is that you and your co-worker are not the weed itself, but are rather the ones to determine the fate of the weed.

You both have been dealing with the cultural and experiential effects of your upbringings, and, it seems to me, that both of you are equally troubled by the deeply ingrained stains that you find extremely difficult to remove.

I commend both of you for your willingness to discuss these issues in a reasonable and cordial manner. It is my impression that both of you deem each other as equals, evidenced by the fact that you have aired your own difficulties with such openness and grace.

We all have our prejudices to overcome, and it starts by learning to deal with the individual as an individual and not as a generality. Stereotyping is the greatest fallacy we can commit when it comes to race relations. MLK had it right; we should be judged by the content of our individual character, not the color of our skin, or origin of our race. Evil is multi-hued. Fortunately, however, so is good. The choice is ours.

Angie said...

Thanks for your comment Tibias, and welcome!

Mandi's Candies said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been wondering about my children's outlook on race. They are very young (9 & 5) and have been transplanted to a more diverse enviroment, one in which they are not used to. Now that they have a minor exposure to other cultures and race, I often wonder what they think. I would love for them to participate in a focus group that would expose their outlook on race. I want to know how they feel about themselves and others who don't look like them. I want to truly know as a parent, in what ways have I influenced my kid's perspective of other races and what needs a little more tweeking or a lot more help. It really is a fine line because I want them to be aware that everyone will not like them because of their skin color, but it doesn't mean that everyone in the world is like that either.