A blog about our shared experience…

A Little More on Race

Greetings all,
I’m normally reluctant to approach a loaded topic that easily becomes divisive, but I do want to open this space up to explore on it…

I will say up front that no conversation on race(among MANY other topics) is complete, and would be poorly served to be concluded with shallow and superficial treatments on what the deeper roots and causes are of the funny part of our collective experience that we call race.

Here’s a small bit from a conversation I had with a friend, where he asked me a pointed question about my experience with race:

Below are a couple of video posts from Jay Smooth which speak very well to some of the nuances around race that we should reflect on:

13 responses

  1. sneezypb

    In the last video, the philosophical conundrum, “What are you?” is quite familiar. (Melungeon)

    February 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

  2. Nice snippet. It was nice to hear such honest and candid commentary on racial stereotyping. Bringing up the views presented to you as a child was a brave move on your part. I applaud you. Despite what one may see on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt, the horrible truth is, that for many people, hate is, indeed, a family value. I was reared in a culture of hate, and it took many years to break those chains. I hope that more and more people can see these videos, look inside themselves, and make a change. Especially, within their own families.

    February 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    • Indeed, brother!
      It seems to me that the more candid and open we can be on how these behaviors work on us, the better equipped we can be to really heal ourselves and others.

      Your journey figuring that stuff out is an interesting one. Care to share more about that and what external influences contributed to your change in thought?

      February 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm

  3. The problem with “race” discussions, is that it’s incorrect. The issue isn’t about race. It’s about the human drive to be superior to another group of people. Even within similar races, their are people always fighting to show that they’re superior; take the Cryps and Bloods, for example. Or the take the Chinese and Japanese, or the Scottish and British. Even in the same home where culture and race may be there same, sexism may still exist.

    Humans just have a natural inclination to feel superior to someone else. It just so happens that race is an easy difference to recognize; therefore, race has been used an excuse to excercise prejudice more than any other physical difference, except for gender. So the issue isn’t “Why are people racist,” it’s “Why do people want to feel superior to others?”

    February 29, 2012 at 8:12 am

    • I agree with you about race not being the real issue, which is what makes me so hesitant to talk about it in those terms.

      I would argue that it is more about a combination of: perception of “not enough” resources on the planet; a race to control those resources and the power dynamics and deficit mentalities that develop; and a lack of spiritual guidance to temper the sometimes cold and calculating thought processes that can allow us to come to rational, but unhealthy conclusions about how to behave.

      Many arguments state that “race” is a made-up differentiation, and has no real existence. The challenge we face is that we’ve been raised with this made-up differentiation being treated as real, and there’s a lot of dialogue and healing to be had to heal the cycles of violence that have been thrust upon all peoples over this striving to acquire more resources and power…

      Seriously, good stuff, D!

      February 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm

  4. Even if there was just one race on the planet, there would still be division in some some form; because that’s just how human beings are.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:23 am

    • You know that I’m not going to let you off the hook with that “That’s just how human beings are”…give us more on what you mean by that.

      February 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      • Well, I meant to add that to my previous post, where I mentioned that humans are inclined to try to be superior to one another. What I mean, is that even if race didn’t exist, people would still find a way to be prejudice, and separate themselves from others.

        For example, italians look down on Sicilians, even though Scilians are still Italian. In Black culture, there’s constant fighting between gangs like the Cryps and Bloods, and lots of Black-on-Black violence. In predominantly white schools, located in predominantly white areas, there’s still bullying, and the “cool crowd”, the “geeks”, etc. This can be found in urban schools as well.

        And then, of course, there’s sexism. This is usually found in the form the belief that men are superior to women. This is cross-cultural; every race, religion and nationality has a history of tthis to some extent.

        So this is what I mean by “That’s just how human beings are.” Even if we were all one race, humans would still find a way to divide themselves from others, and think themselves “superior”. Race isn’t the issue: it’s the human drive to be superior to others.

        February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      • sneezypb

        How about this for a straw men:

        Human teeth are designed for consumption of fruit not ripping meat. This is why fire was a critical invention to get past a human “That’s just how human beings are” limitation.

        Seriously, though. The way we are is the way we choose to behave. We can choose not to behave that way and make the world a better place. As Jay Smooth pointed out, we can choose to call out people for behaving poorly. Perhaps in understanding that others are affected and that third parties notice, respond to our poor behavior we can develop better habits.

        March 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

  5. I will agree with you, that’s it has much to do with how we’re raised. It has has to do with education and exposure to other cultures. That’s one advantage the internet generation has, which is constant exposure to many different types of people. I think the internet will be a key factor in tolerance.

    February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

  6. I have so much to say about this that I can’t even get my thoughts in order, so forgive me if I ramble. First, I’m so sorry to hear that somewhere in your family you were told to not trust people, especially as I have always seen from you such a caring, loving, trusting, giving person with such a gentle beautiful soul. I know as a child my father was extremely racist…I think it had something to do with fighting in the South Pacific in WW2…he wouldn’t eat rice (that’s what those Japs eat) etc etc. It influenced me, of course, but in a different way. I found it so distasteful, from the earliest memories that I can recall. I’d like to think it was good for me, because it made me have an awareness of “differences” and a desire to be open to differences that I may or may not have had being raised in a little white town.

    It’s extraordinarily perceptive of you to discuss the race issue from your own personal perspective, so I’d like to offer mine. I think it’s unfortunate that, as a white person, I can’t say…it’s the black girl that works in the inventory dept….when I can say…it’s the bald guy that works in etc, or the guy with the long dreads behind the camera, or the lady with the bleached blonde hair, or the tall skinny guy in IT…or whatever. “Black” as a descriptive is unacceptable – if you’re white. I’ve had a friend tell me that they were honoring Black History Month at their work, and that the black people in his office were upset that the white people were wanting to be involved in the process of whatever they were doing. Why? Am I being obtuse?
    We are all different, whether it’s skin color, size, age, or hairstyle, and we are always going to be judged by it. There’s so much more than racial hatred – there’s weight hatred…particularly against women. Personally I’ve heard more slurs “that fat bitch, that skinny bitch” than I have ever heard that were racially directed. I am in television, I am in my 40’s, I am a woman. Therefore, I am past my prime. Is it fair? No. Is it where we live? Yes. I’m choosing to be proud of the fact that I am lucky enough to have survived to this point, and I haven’t chosen to botox the life off my face, but rather to be proud of it. It is however, socially unacceptable of me. Imagine if a woman in her 30’s-40’s let her hair go gray. Gasp! The horror! Do we judge someone by how they are dressed? Yes. Do we judge a woman that chooses to NOT wear makeup? Yes. (dyke man hating bitch)

    You and I and everyone else will be judged upon our appearances, from skin color to hair color and style. You are an imposing man with a gorgeous (yet some would say radical) head of hair. Combined that would frighten me in a lonely parking garage if I didn’t know you. Then you would disarm my fear with your lovely kind smile. Does that make me racist? Does that make me wrong? As a woman shouldn’t I have a healthy fear in certain situations from imposing men that could easily overpower me? What about if they’re in a group and wolf whistling or otherwise taking notice of me. Does the color of their skin change my reaction. No. And before anyone reacts negatively, and thinks “oh she’s lying, she’d be afraid if they were black and not if they were white”…let me explain why. A group of young men – regardless of race – do NOT take notice of a 40+ woman – and Oak, I’m not putting myself down – I’m a gorgeous 40+ woman, but I’m still over 40. Anyway, I am off the radar of a group of younger men, I am invisible – unless – unless they have some other motive with me.

    As you know, I spend much of my life in Asia, as a minority, and sometimes I admit I have to chuckle because being “white” means I am fair game to be insulted right directly to my face. “Oh, Miss Rebecca – you get big” Hello? Really? Since when is it ok to say to someone’s face – hey, you gained weight! And then, followed with..”but you American, so it ok” Again? What? Do I also drive a Cadillac and carry a gun? Huh?

    I also find it disturbing, being a huge history buff, that there is so much emphasis in this country STILL about slavery. Was it a horrible moment in our history? Of course. But it was also a tiny blip in the history of slavery. Slavery still exists in many parts of the world, it does not here. If a person wants to spend energy on slavery, wouldn’t it be better spent to eradicate it where it still exists than to complain about where it no longer does. Why have we forgotten that slavery exists within races, and that it wasn’t or isn’t just enslaving those of other races. This is still going on in India, China, and yes, Africa. At one point in history people chose to become slaves as an means to improve their lives. I do not want to downplay the horror that took place here in this country by any means, but I also can get a little weary of it as some sort of excuse to blame “me” for someone else’s choices in life.

    I would love the world to be color blind, I would love for us all to have the same level of opportunity. I would love “all men are created equal”. But it’s not true. We are not created equal. We certainly could improve the area of being created equal under the law, and we should, but we are not equal. You have talents I do not have, I have talents you do not have. Society will continue to judge us all, based on whatever random trend that is happening at the time. I will look forward to the day when, my handsome, thoughtful, kind and caring black friend, that it will be OK for me to call you my handsome black friend, and not be considered a racist comment because I’m white. I look forward to the day when I’m invited into the home of one of my black friends, who have been to my home on many occasions. I’ve yet to be extended a reciprocal invitation.

    Wow, talk about rambling. And I haven’t even scratched the surface. This skinny white bitch talks too much! Love you Oak!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    • sneezypb

      Rebecca: As you said, “You and I and everyone else will be judged upon our appearances, from skin color to hair color and style.” Unfortunately, Oak and I are judged as guilty of a crime until we prove ourselves innocent. The Trayvon Martin case is exactly what my father feared for me. All too often I have been detained by police, security guards, etc. because I was black in the wrong place.

      Official slavery ended with the Civil War, yes. In the decades after, laws were enacted to disenfranchise those former slaves so they could be imprisoned for nothing, not eligible to vote, and end up barely subsisting by working for their former masters. Let’s not forget Oak or I making eye contact with you during this time was appropriate grounds for us to be killed and no one would arrest our killers. The Federal government did not get rid of those laws until almost a hundred years after the Civil War. We as a society have a long way to go before Oak and I are considered as human.

      My very European mother also hoped to get reciprocal invitations into the homes of her black friends even in the neighborhood. Her very African sister-in-law explained once this was not likely to happen easily. The home is the safe place from the constant barrage about being inferior, so why should someone bring into their home someone who represents the superiority? Part of it will require understanding them from their point of view and then helping them understand you from your point of view.

      I do have European friends who call me “black” without causing me to be upset. Of course, I am more angered with the terms specifically used in a harmful way against me by people I could not retaliate against.

      March 23, 2012 at 1:48 am

  7. kloipy

    Loving your blog man. Very important stuff here and this series of videos are very important. Great job

    April 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm

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