Racist Confession: Part 2

So, with the move, and trying to build house here it’s been an interesting process. But, I still think the discussion must continue. And part of that ideas spurned by comments to the original post, both on the blog and to the link posted at Facebook. (And I have not yet figured out the “upload”; it only gives me titles with blanks… help?)

But the most interesting point to me was that none really felt optimistic about the opportunity presented as one that could change. Lots of ‘perfect world’ and people are unable to discuss. But everyone felt that a change was necessary to the success of the country and its people.

And then, there are the issues with the definitions

Racism: noun
1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and thus has the right to rule others.
2. A policy, system of government or business that is based on fostering the doctrine as described above.
3. Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races

Bigotry: noun
1. The stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own
2. The actions, beliefs, prejudices that describe the behaviour of a bigot.

Those are two taken directly from the dictionary – and while simplistic in their definitions, it is my belief that the two are simple to differentiate. Racism is against a person or a group and encompasses all facets of your thought process. Bigotry is perhaps fueled by racism, but it is a far more ‘idea based’ prejudice, that has its roots directly tied to the inability of the holder to process a complex thought.

I see rampant bigotry presented by the many different levels of evangelists – no matter what their religious affiliation. They are incapable of hearing a point that could question their investment in their own particular holy tome, and will go as far as sticking fingers in ears and screeching “La la la la la” to avoid having to face questions or ideas that contradict the world as they choose to see it.

And that becomes a problem. If you are so tied to one idea of the world, your faith, your image, you are completely and utterly incapable of allowing a divergent thought. Those are most often met with a defensive and over the top reaction against the person who brought forth the idea.

What I had to learn to do, to fully accept the fact that I have a bias, and that it does make me ‘notice’ the differences in people I encounter, is to just simply do it. To realize that I can notice, but do not need to throw it forward in my description of, thoughts of or even discussions with people of other races. Unless I need to describe someone for you, a total stranger, to meet at the airport – I don’t need to tell you that they are Asian, Black, or Purple-spotted.

The line, made famous by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It is what I strive to do each day: to take each person as an individual. To process the sum total of their words, their actions and their behaviour toward each they encounter as a whole, and to decide if they are worth my time and energy. I cut no one “more slack” because they are ___, I am horrible at tolerating rudeness that is intended, or stupidity that is wilful. You can’t sort out the ostrich with a head in the sand unless you are willing to dig it away. So there has to be effort on both sides.

But how do I make that effort? I research, I read. I listen to both sides of the arguments. I find the facts, and I do it calmly. I don’t yell. It’s not in me to do. Being calm in the face of someone losing their shit because they are screaming mad and defensive is difficult. It is unpleasant. But that calm, assertive energy (thank you Cesar Milan) works with people as well as dogs.

I don’t know that I’ve ‘overcome’ my racist bias. I do know that I have accepted it as a fact. And I also know that I don’t make any major decisions about ‘who’ I think someone is, or whether they are invited in to my ‘circle’, without a ton of thought. Most of all, I stay open: to ideas, to people, to customs.

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4 thoughts on “Racist Confession: Part 2

  1. Staying open to every possibility is always a healthy thing to do. I know you’re a avid researcher of things whereas i am lazy and live by the concept of would 9 out of 10 people given no background on who think what happened makes sense. Simple logic to me overrides customs, beliefs, and built in prejudices revolved around personal biases for whatever reason. That when you ask where they stand most will fall logically in the 9 out of 10 . When you make them aware with more info they may actually consider things differently at least for a short while and hopefully it plants a seed that will eventually amount to better things. Problem is doing that before someone else twists their minds away from common decent logic first.

    • I’ve learned more about myself and others just by being willing to hear a side… sure, the first instinct of “this is a total moron” has been correct more than once – but there were some where a little time and some concerted paying attention showed me the error of my ways.

      I can jump to a conclusion as quickly as the next person, and I can change my mind even more rapidly when given better information. What makes that so different is not the changing – but my willingness to say I was wrong.. and this is why.

      As for what 9 out of 10 would derive as a logical conclusion ..since logic is the one thing I see missing more than any other character trait just below polite – I don’t know that I agree. But I also know that you are an avid processor of people and their tendencies – so it works for you. I’ve taken your “advice under advisement more than once, and it has never steered me wrong. I just don’t process the same – even if our ultimate conclusions are the same.

  2. Let me tell you what it’s like to be biracial…you hear nonsense from people who might otherwise keep it to themselves. Isn’t that a shame? I like people a lot but I don’t like bad behavior and that transcends race. I’ve lived in a lot of places around the country and I’ve seen that people make decisions that are based on superficial way too often.

    In many ways, we’re all so much alike, you know? We want to raise our kids, have good jobs, enjoy life but we let things we can’t change, like color, decide who we spend time with. When I was growing up, I was one of a few kids who looked like me – now I see so many mixed marriages and it reminds me that we’re changing as a country, and we’re still babies when it comes to our place in history. Geez, I sound like I have faith. WTF.

    • I wish it were different. I wish it were different for everyone. Because just being who I am- I have heard some of the craziest nonsense uttered in that “I’m being your friend here, no judgement from me” way – that is anything but friendly or non-judgmental.

      I just think that I want people to realize that similarities are far more numerous than differences – and the wasted energy on disliking someone or working toward denying another person something simply because they look different from you is the world’s most colossal waste. Can you even imagine if people actually put the petty crap aside and then went on to work together against the things that are wrong and matter TO EVERYONE?
      Yep… hope. It gets me by surprise every time

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