Friday, October 19, 2007

On Race...

Need I mention that the whole concept of "races" is really quite illogical? The term itself, races, implies a special separation that simply doesn't exist! And while various groups of humans sub-evolved and adapted to their climates, the DNA itself that we all share is 100% the same--superficial distinctions like the amount of melanin in one's skin, the shape of one's eyes, or the texture of one's hair are simply like the various colors a Great Dane comes in. Nothing more.

That said, knowing that what we all are, despite our various superficial variations, why is race such a primal motivator for much of our country's--dare I say, much of the worlds?--issues and problems?

Being that human beings are illogical and irrational even on our best of days, I am reminded of a cover on a magazine one year... I wish I could remember the magazine, or find a copy of the cover, but, in essence, it showed over fifty squares that just showed patches of skin, and asked in bold letters, CAN YOU IDENTIFY WHICH RACE EACH SKIN BELONGS TO?, or something to that effect...

Of course, I couldn't. One shade led gradually to another shade which led gradually to another shade, showing the myriad of colors present in each and every "color" of human skin, much like paint chip samples in WalMart.

It was eye opening...

Sometimes you feel the racist inside, screaming at the people of color on your television speaking of the unfair system, the unfair balance, and how inequality isn't there, and it screams, "Get off your lazy asses and get a job!!" Or, "It's all in your head! Reverse racism!!" My mind knows this is a lie, a lie of comfort that says, "It's their fault." Or, "It's them, not us--full of excuses." A lie meant to sooth the primal part of me that fears difference, that fears anything remotely unfamiliar.

In these times, I am so ashamed of myself...

Anyone who says racism isn't alive and well also hasn't been watching their television. What one stupid white kid in the town of Jena did in a moment of heated fear, by hanging a noose from a tree where one black student had expressed an interest in sitting with his fellow human beings, has started a chain reaction: a Home Depot in Illinois, Colombia University in New York, the University of Maryland, a police station in NY, two Coast Guard locker rooms, in a North Carolina high school, a South Carolina high school... The list could go on... And who knows how many person's of color haven't reported finding nooses, fearing for their safety...

I have to wonder, how many more empty nooses will we find?

We Yankees like to think we're above all that--or, at least, most of us do. I'm sure there are a few who openly wear their racism like a Boy Scout badge... I am related to at least one that I know of. But when we hear of racism, we automatically think of the South. After all, we reason, they're the ones we had to fight to free the slaves in the first place. But the truth is, where the South was quite open in their hostility for blacks, we Yankees just hid it better, and blamed them afterward for being unable to make a living like we could--in our country, in our culture, in our lives and at our behest...

I have no idea what it feels like to walk into a room and count how many other whites are present. I just assume they'll be more like me there. It never even crosses my mind to think I may be a minority, until it is night time, I am in the city, and I think I may be lost. Cliche? Part racism, part reality. And the reality was created, for the most part, by inherent racism.

I know I personally like to think, perhaps wrongly as Journey Woman hinted at, that this whole "racism" thing is in the past--an original sin that, while there are some ramifications, it's nothing of consequence and mostly atoned for, and everyone just needs to get over it... This is the racist in me.

I don't know what it's like to worry about finding a noose on my front door, except from what I fear from mostly my fellow whites in regards to my sexuality--and, while there are parallels, isn't the same at the core... (I can hear the right-wingers now, yelling, "See? We told you it wasn't the same, but you insisted! No marriage for you!"--I'll take care of y'all later...)

I challenge all of you to take a quiz: A quiz that pits what you think you know about skin color, and what it means about a person. At PBS, there are twenty-five people, and five "race" categories--you have to match the person to the race with which they identify. I got five right--and none of which I expected to be right about... The quiz is here.

I don't know if it will be as eye opening for you as that magazine cover from the forgotten past was for me, but I remember that being the moment that I stopped swallowing the easy answers that both my mind and society came up with for why people of color still suffer in our country...

And started looking for the truth as to why they DO still suffer inequality...

I don't have all the answers. I know I still have a racist in me that screams to come through--we all do, no matter what color or creed we may be--that's the ironic thing about racism--it's color blind in the opposite way in which it effects all of us...

Perhaps Journey is right, and speaking about her anger and my fear and guilt as a society is part of the healing process--or maybe it prolongs the suffering--who's to say?

What do you say?

6 comments:

Bruno said...

"Get off your lazy asses and get a job!!" Or, "It's all in your head! Reverse racism!!"

I don't agree with your use of the expression "reverse racism". I think it's more appropriate to talk about "anti-white racism". the "reverse racism" expression actually promotes racist stereotypes against white people. Saying "reverse racism" implies there is a "norm" in racism (white people's racism toward other racial groups) and that racism is, somehow, a "white thing", which is wrong and prejudiced.

Please see my page : reverse racism Vs anti-white racism

Sylvia said...

Hey Ja-
Well, I have much to say on this matter. Well, maybe not much, but I do have my opinion - if it were...
My family - meaning, my family of 3 here in D'ville - well, we've dealt ALOT with the Hispanic/Latino and Black community. Primarily, it was when we were so piss poor, we didn't have a pot to piss in - quite literally. We needed help bad, because of a "bad deck of cards" that we as a whole were dealt. So, we ended up at the Dept. of Public Welfare, time and time again. And if you or anybody else would like to see the racial divide, please walk into a room. THERE, I felt like a minority. I have actually felt like we may have been shot, stabbed, or something to that effect. The second the whitest of white people walked through the doors, EVERYTHING seemed to stop. I mean, in reality, it didn't really happen. But, alot of people in there, specifically speaking - the blacks and hispanics in the room - stopped to stare at us....I felt like grabbing my husband by the arm and throwing my daughter over my shoulder and just bolting out of there.
Of course, after 10 minutes or so, we just minded our own business and eventually we were called in to file some paperwork. Everything turned out to be just fine....But, for a brief period of time, I felt as though maybe my own thoughts of racism really do exist and that I really do have them. Perhaps you're right, perhaps everyone has a racist thought every now and again. I mean, why not....??? Who really hears our thoughts? God does....But, does He punish us for those thoughts? I don't know....maybe He should. I know that some of the stuff that runs through my head during a normal day ain't pretty. It's not ALL racism either...sometimes it's "Nobody would even notice if I took this candy bar/pack of gum/etc..." or sometimes it's "Wow, look at him. If I wasn't a married woman...."
So, anyway, maybe I'm rambling, I don't know. But we've seen it first hand. Racism....we've even thought about it....
But, I should go...it's time for my medicine, and my hands are starting to feel all this "rambling". Need to save these hands...ya know...work and all.
LOL
Love ya Ja
Sylvia

FCSuper said...

I tried the race test on that website. It is well intentioned, but once I saw the results, I was left thinking that it was a bit ridiculous in execution. It asked for the user to identify one's race based on tiny pictures. But it become apparent how misguided the game was when reading the descriptions of each person after the test. Race is a silly distinction, but the test made talking about preception of race seem even sillier.

Here I am, having heritage spanning three continents (Europe, North America and Asia). I don't claim a "race" on the census. I state my origins as "American". Yes, I've written this answer on the census reply card in the past two censuses. If I say "White, Non-hispanic", it's a lie; if I say "Asian", it's a lie; if I say "American Indian", it's a lie; if I say "hispanic", it's kinda a lie (Hispanic is a confusing term, but by some descriptions, part of my race make-up would best be described as "hispanic of asian origins"). I'm all of these, yet, I have the whitest of the white skin one will ever see on anybody.

Things aren't all pie in the sky in our world though. However, one thing that would go far to resolving many "race" issues if everyone learn how to take responsbility for themselves and their own actions in stead of trying to blaming a group of people or a system for their plight. Statements like, "The man is holding us down" or "Those people are taking jobs away from us" are a sure sign of racism by those speaking these words.

mom said...

hello jason! i took that quiz and its kind of hard to place them in the boxes since they kind of all looked alike to me. i only got like 5 right. i really think you can't do that quiz right with small little pictures like that. i don't think the race problem ever will go away all together. i know i had race issues myself but its part of the sin problem we have in us. we have this at any get togethers even if we have all the same race in the room. you don't sit with the person who maybe looks too fat or too dirty or has pink hair. we all have to learn how to treat others with respect know matter who they are. right now i have issues with people from india. so far i have not found a friendly one except this one little boy that i shard a smile and hi with. i have hope that maybe a big india person will actually smile and say hi to me. i will not allow myself to go down a bad road even if it will make me feel better since i know that God loves them every bit as much as He does me. the race problem boils down to hate against any one that is just different. we all need a lesson on how not to be rude and maybe some of us should not have our feelings sticking out so much. just because we have one bad thing happen to us does not mean we should think the whole world is this way. i always say i am a mixed breed, i have all kinds of race in me and i don't care. just like my dog. and mixed breeds are always the best! :) well, better go. let us all try to think we all live in one big bowl of vegtable soup! :) love and prayers ps i have no more letters to type! GREAT! :)

mom said...

hello jason! i took that quiz and its kind of hard to place them in the boxes since they kind of all looked alike to me. i only got like 5 right. i really think you can't do that quiz right with small little pictures like that. i don't think the race problem ever will go away all together. i know i had race issues myself but its part of the sin problem we have in us. we have this at any get togethers even if we have all the same race in the room. you don't sit with the person who maybe looks too fat or too dirty or has pink hair. we all have to learn how to treat others with respect know matter who they are. right now i have issues with people from india. so far i have not found a friendly one except this one little boy that i shard a smile and hi with. i have hope that maybe a big india person will actually smile and say hi to me. i will not allow myself to go down a bad road even if it will make me feel better since i know that God loves them every bit as much as He does me. the race problem boils down to hate against any one that is just different. we all need a lesson on how not to be rude and maybe some of us should not have our feelings sticking out so much. just because we have one bad thing happen to us does not mean we should think the whole world is this way. i always say i am a mixed breed, i have all kinds of race in me and i don't care. just like my dog. and mixed breeds are always the best! :) well, better go. let us all try to think we all live in one big bowl of vegtable soup! :) love and prayers ps i have no more letters to type! GREAT! :)

Sylvia said...

Hey Ja-
Well, I have much to say on this matter. Well, maybe not much, but I do have my opinion - if it were...
My family - meaning, my family of 3 here in D'ville - well, we've dealt ALOT with the Hispanic/Latino and Black community. Primarily, it was when we were so piss poor, we didn't have a pot to piss in - quite literally. We needed help bad, because of a "bad deck of cards" that we as a whole were dealt. So, we ended up at the Dept. of Public Welfare, time and time again. And if you or anybody else would like to see the racial divide, please walk into a room. THERE, I felt like a minority. I have actually felt like we may have been shot, stabbed, or something to that effect. The second the whitest of white people walked through the doors, EVERYTHING seemed to stop. I mean, in reality, it didn't really happen. But, alot of people in there, specifically speaking - the blacks and hispanics in the room - stopped to stare at us....I felt like grabbing my husband by the arm and throwing my daughter over my shoulder and just bolting out of there.
Of course, after 10 minutes or so, we just minded our own business and eventually we were called in to file some paperwork. Everything turned out to be just fine....But, for a brief period of time, I felt as though maybe my own thoughts of racism really do exist and that I really do have them. Perhaps you're right, perhaps everyone has a racist thought every now and again. I mean, why not....??? Who really hears our thoughts? God does....But, does He punish us for those thoughts? I don't know....maybe He should. I know that some of the stuff that runs through my head during a normal day ain't pretty. It's not ALL racism either...sometimes it's "Nobody would even notice if I took this candy bar/pack of gum/etc..." or sometimes it's "Wow, look at him. If I wasn't a married woman...."
So, anyway, maybe I'm rambling, I don't know. But we've seen it first hand. Racism....we've even thought about it....
But, I should go...it's time for my medicine, and my hands are starting to feel all this "rambling". Need to save these hands...ya know...work and all.
LOL
Love ya Ja
Sylvia