Thursday, February 12, 2009

Everyone's a little bit racist.

No, really. It's a song. But be careful - it's from Avenue Q. I take no responsibility for your sensibilities being offended if you read or listen to it.

Racism oftentimes falls into that same category that I talked about in my last post. Shawndra and Sarah have never met, never once spoken words to each other. But Shawndra thinks that because Sarah has a different colored skin than she, Sarah has already judged her for her color without getting to know her. She’s already judged Sarah for judging her, based on Sarah’s race.

… right. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for racists who complain about racism.

If I were to say I’m not romantically attracted to Asian men, I would sound racist. But if I say I don’t like fat men, it’s read as a personal preference and you think nothing of it. So my personal preference is Caucasian. Is that really as wrong as I’ve been conditioned to believe?

And when I’m out in public, I shy away from folks of ANY race who dress like they’re in a gang. I make judgments on their lifestyles based on what they wear. (Just like most people would make a judgment on my lifestyle if I wore skimpy clothes all the time, or really dark make-up with all-black attire.) I'm pretty sure that's kind of an unavoidable part of being human - one of those primal instincts sorts of things. Unfortunately, most of the guys who have the appearance of being in a gang are African American. Am I being racist or trying to stay away from a potentially dangerous situation?

You can’t do anything about your racial background, but how you dress, how you carry yourself, how you treat other people, and your decision to judge people for judging you (whether you have any reason to believe they have or not) are all choices you have to make.

I went to a salon a week ago to get a haircut. Two good looking, well dressed, white men had come to the office and sold me a package deal for a price I couldn’t refuse (back when I had a job) and this was my first visit to the place. It’s very… ethnic. The building was once a large home and is still decorated like one – large African-style wooden sculptures, stylized drawings on the walls of African women dancing, race-generic metal sculptures of jazz players on the table. I was the only white person in the place. And I judged them because I thought they were judging me. What was I doing there? I didn’t fit in. That’s not my culture. I don’t think I could dance like that if I tried. But they were kind enough to treat me like one of their own, blond hair and all. They even talked about bringing me on the team as a massage therapist (haven’t heard back… definitely need to follow up on that).

And maybe my experience here was more one of “I shy away from you because we’re just too different” in the same way that it’s easy to treat the poor or the old or the crippled or the profoundly home-schooled. It’s natural to gravitate toward those who have things in common with us. If there were a person of a different skin color from mine who seemed like a decent person and was in my drawing class and we struck up a conversation because I recognized the music she was listening to as one of my favorite artists, we’ve got all the ingredients for a potential friendship, regardless of race. On the other hand, I was fascinated by the decorations in the salon, but I didn’t LIKE them. I wasn’t much for the music they played either. These preferences were something I had a hard time appreciating because it seems indicative of racial pride. “I’m proud of my heritage – see how I’ve decorated my work space?” I can’t relate to that because I don’t have any sort of racial pride whatsoever. I’m just your average white mutt. My decorations in my home are race-neutral. In fact, I think I have more pictures of cats than of people on my walls. -_-

I’m rambling. But you know how I roll – I had bouncy thoughts and I was finally ready to ramble. (rumble?) I’m composing this in a Word doc and it’s over a page long, single spaced. I’m so sorry! But in closing... everyone's a little bit racist. And I think we'd all do well to quit trying to figure out how we're being judged, take the time to appreciate the differences (and there ARE differences. you start spouting some nonsense about how blacks and whites and men and women are all the same... you've gotta be crazy), and just Be a little.

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