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When I created this blog, I never expected to write about race and ethnicity as much as I have. However, like I say in my blog summary, being a black person in America, my “race” has an undeniable impact on my life. I’m not going to wake up one magical morning and discover that I can change shade when I walk out in the world. Cloak myself in a different skin color, so I can experience what it’s like to walk through this world free from all the invisible pressures of the expectations of blackness.
Never was it my goal to become a spokesperson or activist for the fight against racism. It’s an uphill battle that requires a lot of strength of character and resilience.
It takes courage to lay your thoughts bare, opening yourself up to public scrutiny and commentary. In today’s America where just mentioning someone’s race makes you “racist” in the eyes of some, there is risk of being misinterpreted or having your words misconstrued into negativity.
In moments where I feel so overwhelmed by the continued prejudice and racial strife I read about or experience day after day, I wonder sometimes why I even bother. Will things ever get better?
Below is a fairly recent conversation between me and my friend Sam, who like me, often posts articles or discussion starters about race and ethnicity. Unlike me, he is a Korean-American male, so his perspective is different from mine. Often, I feel starved for genuine, productive conversation about racism and prejudice in the United States. Too many people seem happy to remain apathetic, or they’re afraid to discuss it for fear of seeming racist or ignorant, or they hope if they ignore the problems they will go away. Well, they won’t and it frustrates me how seemingly content some are to leave things at status quo. My friend, is not one to shrink from difficult or uncomfortable discussions and I value our conversations.
Have you heard about the movie “Dear White People“?
Yes. Want to see it.
Its “outraging” some people.
“It’s so racist!”
“If this movie was called ‘Dear Black People’ THEY would freak out.”
“We’re never going to move past racism if we keep talking about it. Stop blaming white people for your problems!” etc. etc.
Yeah expected as much. In a climate where being empathetic to Muslims is antisemitic, favoritism abounds
This is true. The misguided outrage mimics the past in so many ways and people just cannot see it.
Its based on class I believe. Richer minorities are preferred. Abe Lincoln said he was empathetic to blacks (African-Americans) because he was poor. Their race implies their class as he put it.
Yeah, there’s truth to that.
Sadly to many, when black or dark skin represents aspirations, their views will change. It’s still tied to idea that working class are dark because they work outside
I don’t expect to live long enough to see dark skin represent aspiration.
Noooooo! People like us can change the world in small ways.
It’s just exhausting sometimes, feels like a never-ending battle, one that I never volunteered for. I just can’t keep my mouth shut when I feel things are wrong. But, you’re right, I know. Which is why I am happy that people like you exist.
As we get older we want to make the battle for the next gen easier.
True and I’ll remind myself of that.
Seems like you can’t help yourself anymore. You’re a citizen activist!
valerietaglinedesignOctober 13, 2014
Hi Keisha- Your conversation with Sam is refreshing. For the last couple of years, I’ve worked and taken walks in a neighborhood that is still mostly African-American (Longfellow, Oakland). A lot of young white families are moving in. Watching the neighborhood change really makes me think about race and class and my own ideas about it.
For example: I was thinking the neighborhood was vibrant because it’s diverse. After considering it a little bit more, I decided that it’s full of energy, in part, because the black neighbors spend more time outside socialiing than what I’m used to in a white neighborhood. Longfellow is becoming more diverse but it’s probably not becoming more vibrant.
Thanks for the thoughtful post-Valerie
The Girl Next Door is BlackOctober 14, 2014
Hi Valerie! Thanks for sharing your experience in Oakland. It’s changing so much there I hear. It’s natural for cities to change in demographics, but it can be so tough on the people who live in them.