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
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
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.