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Stretching the Mind about Racism

2017/01/22

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A friend sent me this image and honestly wanted to know if I considered this racist, and why. My brain went down the rabbit hole, and this is what I came up with as an answer.

The old saying about perception determining your reality is never more true than when it comes to race relations. So, when someone reads that tweet who has no conscious bias themselves, it becomes hard to see the harm in it, but someone who has lived in that bias recognizes immediately where it’s coming from and where it’s headed. The problem starts with a lie, and ends with condemning all black people for the actions of a single person. It’s propaganda being used to justify racism, and we all know where that can lead when enough people buy in to the party line.

I guess the best way for me to explain where I’m coming from originates in my moving from 15 minutes outside the D.C. line, and growing up as a minority, to living in Colorado where it was still seriously segregated, and in the 6 years I was in school here, I went to school with a grand total of 7 black people (one of which was an exchange student). It was a massive culture shock, and I learned for the first time that the stereotypes we all laughed about at home, were taken as absolute gospel to these new people I was surrounded by. Plus they had a whole new set of stereotypes for the “Mexicans.” My only respite from this new world I found myself in was my Spanish teacher, who grew up in a mixed race family (in Iowa, where that shit was super rare in the 50s/60s), and my friend Joiey with the hippie parents. They were the only people I was able to share my frustrations with during that time, and the only ones who understood why it all bothered me so much. My friends, before moving to Colorado, could have been the cast of a 90s sitcom, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, White Trash, Jewish, Black, and both rich and poor in a mixture. My 6th grade teacher used to call our group the United Nations, “What has the United Nations decided on for today’s topic?” I can still hear her voice and see her impossibly raised eyebrow. The rest of our class would congregate in their race groups. When we asked Mrs. Jackson why that always seemed to happen she told us that most people find comfort in what they know, and fear the unknown, and that’s why it was important for those of us who weren’t afraid to give everyone a good example of what happens when we let go of that fear.

From this culture shock, I learned that there are different types of racism; the blatant in-your-face kind, silent, and subtle. Having a racist blatantly spewing hate for hate’s sake is easier to deal with, because you know who hates you and how to deal with them. Silent racism is fucking devastating. Silent racism keeps you from renting an apartment, it denies you a home loan, it keeps you from getting a job, it makes sure the schools in your neighborhood don’t get the good textbooks, and it doesn’t let you know who your enemies really are in this world. Subtle racism is just as bad, because you can see it, but you can’t confirm it, and it makes you feel like you’re being paranoid, like maybe you’re the problem, and that’s how other people treat you when you bring it up. None of these things are right, but knowing that there is more than just the worst of it out there helps all of us to understand the problem better.

Accepting the racism of others is also a problem. And that’s true for any form hatred takes. When you turn a blind eye to anything that you know is wrong, you are giving your silent permission for the wrong to continue. The subtle stuff is the hardest thing to work against, because they can always say they didn’t mean it that way. But simply by challenging it, forcing them to make that excuse, tells them that you are seeing it. Laws and rules are not in place to punish the guilty, they are there to keep honest people honest. Criminals and degenerates will always break the laws and rules, but having that guide in place shows the average person where to draw the line. It also allows us the ability to hold others to that line when they start to stray. The problem is that when we allow them to push the line, eventually, we can’t even see where the line is anymore.

So, maybe different people will read that tweet with a different perception, but if you stop to take the time to see it through the eyes of someone else it could change your whole perspective, and it might just help you to understand a little more about the world we live in.

 

Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.  –Obi-Wan Kenobi

Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.   -Oliver Wendell Holmes

One comment

  1. despite all that irrelevant stuff, people cant tell the difference between someone pointing out that racism exists (which is what trump is doing in that post) and people being racist themselves.

    if hed said “because obama did a poor job, i wont vote for another black candidate for decades” that would be racist for sure. if he says “because obama did a poor job, people wont elect another black candidate for decades [because people actually are racist]” —

    whats the revelation there? if hes wrong, its only because public opinion has more plasticity than generally expected.

    or was it the part about how obama didnt do a good job? because hes gone now– i know that some people played the race card any time someone tried to critique his administration, but that old trick is wearing thin.



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