On Racism

A couple of weeks ago, a class discussion led to the topic of racism. It was an emotionally charged situation where everyone was defensive about their experiences and views on racism.

The reason why it was so emotionally charged was because no one was listening to one another. I feel that people seemed threatened when people offer a different view/experience with racism because it calls into question the validity of their own – for example, two black people having completely different experiences or a white person saying that they have experienced racism as well (in the form of reverse racism). So when we start sharing our experiences with racism it becomes a forum where everyone wants to inform/educate everyone else without listening to anyone else.

I know this seems like a hard pill to swallow. Even with my own politics it seems hard because if I give time to a perspective that I think is false, I justify it. But consider perceptions. Perceptions are just as if not more important than reality and they play a big role in how we experience race in this country.

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10 responses to “On Racism”

  1. Claire says :

    Keep in mind also that effectively, race=perception. Race itself is a human construct–we have attributed a number of traits that make up a stereotype that we associate with a “race”, which we mean as a skin color.

    Not that it really changes anything about the discussion regarding talking/listening. Just an interesting bit to think about.

  2. vmidcalf says :

    Be sure to visit my website: http://www.drmidcalf.com
    for a view of a new book that I have pinned titled:

    All Eyes on Me: Racism is Alive and Well in America.

    From your comments I know that you will enjoy this book. It is fresh and informative; through the eyes of a conscious driven woman acting to make this a better world. Check it out and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Dr. Midcalf

  3. connormedbery says :

    I agree with all that you’re saying! i think the second that someone feels like their being attacked they go on total defense mode and worry about how they can protect them self as opposed to listening to the other points of the people around them. It seems like the more personal the issue is the more likely it is to explode with emotion. I think this is a major reason as for why racism is so hard to free from. Its such a sensitive topic that people either don’t even want to discuss it or some people play way to into their emotions things come out wrong and change is hard to find! If people would just focus on what each other is saying I think it would allow for growth all around and help to fight this battle of racism. However, this isn’t to say that people who are racist are just going off emotion. Part of this is true but most of it is ignorance. But that is beside the point, I think until discussions of racism calm down and emotion is put on the back burner progress is going to be hard to come by.

  4. Nien says :

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m notoriously bad at responding to comments because I forget about the blog for periods at a time.

    I’m glad we share the same perspective. Your comment reminded me of a time in college when I took some Asian American studies courses and did the whole activism thing. The focus of those activities was around spreading awareness and educating people. At least it was at the school I went to. It’s not a bad thing because the world needs it. But it shifts the focus on talking and projecting your beliefs instead of listening – which is where you reveal opportunities to change things.

    I look a look at Dr. Midcalf’s website for the book she mentioned. You should take a peek too. Just from the synopsis, it’s yet another instance of someone spreading awareness and educating people without any emphasis on listening. Again, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but how productive is it in changing the conversation about race in America?

  5. thewaterwheel says :

    I really appreciate you bringing up the importance of perspective when discussing race. This is a very nuanced issue. When does perspective equal reality? When does it not? I feel that, for a given person, perspective is THEIR reality, and that is important in any conversation on race. However, one’s perspective is not necessarily THE reality, which is also important to remember when we share our perspective and experience. If interested, check out my recent post about my perspective of 21st century racism at http://thewaterwheel.wordpress.com/.

  6. vanderjohn says :

    My opinion on racism is…that it’s okay to hate groups of people for whatever reason, imaginary or real. But it’s not okay to hate individuals just based on their membership in that group.

    Also, in many of the day-to-day conversations and “forums” where racism seems to be a problem, there is no real desire in either party to get to the bottom of an issue. Racism is merely and most commonly a conversational tool. Do not focus on eliminating racism, but the things that cause the need for it.

  7. vmidcalf says :

    You mention the things that cause racism should be the focus and not eliminating racism. If we focus on eliminating the things that cause racism, then racism will be eliminated. My opinion of course. Please share any of the things that you think cause racism and we can start the ball to rolling in trying to get to the bottom of this thing called racism. One suggestion that I have is: respect. Learn to have respect for all races, no matter the color. If we show respect and support to the race, I believe that positive behaviors will follow. Dr. Verta Midcalf

  8. vanderjohn says :

    I think some people just like to hate people. I don’t know what psychological or social reasons there are for this, but most of the racist people I’ve met don’t just hate certain races; they find reasons to hate A LOT of different people.

    • Jing says :

      I believe racism come from the attackers IGNORANCE and INSECURIES about himself. We live in such a diverse multicultured nation that their shouldn’t be hate going on. If only these attackers/racists are willing to be open-minded i believe its then they they can stop. Just my 2 cent. 🙂

  9. JeanPaul Badjo says :

    Racism is learned. But can be overthrown through example and goes much deeper than just black and white. Read my article if you want a better understanding.

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