Archive | March, 2013

Is it true? Can it be? Am I a racist? Does racism even exist?

19 Mar

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      The seminar titled “Refashioning Blackness Conference” featured Mrs. Claudia, a powerful woman who spoke in Portuguese about the racism experienced by people who live in Columbia. To my surprise, Columbians consider themselves to be black and the struggles they have and continue to endure in their part of the world is similar to the African American struggle in America in many ways.

      The portion of her lecture that struck me most was the fact that many people were unaware that racism existed and that they took part in it on a daily basis. She stated white people living in Columbia were completely unaware of their participation in racism because they had never been exposed to a culture that was comprised of so many black people. Their only exposure came from the narrow minded portrayal of us on television or through other media outlets. She also mentioned, that the existence of racism never entered the mind of the Columbians who had grown up in neighborhoods made up solely of people who looked like them, which explains why they were unaware of racism’s existence until they removed themselves from these areas.

      This brought to mind a situation I was faced with my freshman year in the Introduction to African American Culture, a class taught by Dr. Joni Jones. A white female classmate stated in tears that she was unaware that she was a racist because she grew up with people who looked like her and the only information she had access to about races different from hers came from the media. We discussed daily how African Americans were discriminated against through racist remarks, racially charged jokes, and are forced to face and combat the stereotypes the media places on them. I believe it was then that she realized the part she played in continuing racism.

      She grew up in a small suburban town that was made up predominately of whites and her opinions of African Americans came from what trickled down through the media, family, and friends. She began to realize how asking every African American male who looked 6 feet tall and taller if he was a basketball player only perpetuated the stereotype that the only way African American males can be successful was through sports. She was completely unaware that the unconscious reaction to clutch her purse closer when she encountered an African American was also racist. However, this is how she learned to behave based on the portrayals from media and the behaviors of her parents and friends.

      Taking this girl’s experiences into account, Mrs. Claudia’s assertion that racism exists not only in the US but in Columbia as well makes perfect sense. The reason for this unconscious racism stems from their lack of interaction and experiences with black people. Because of this, individuals form their opinions about others from what they see on television and the exposure those races receive from the media. It is for these reasons that individuals are ignorant to the fact that they have and continue to commit racist acts or do not even realize that it exist.

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/racism-101/

https://www.stcloudstate.edu/affirmativeaction/resources/insights/pdf/28ToolsChange.pdf

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