I am going to enjoy life after 50 if it kills me!

On Being Racist

I am a racist.  Yes, it’s true.

I’m not an intentional racist.  In fact, my family knows never, ever to make comments, even as a joke, that could be construed as racist.  It’s a form of ignorance and I don’t tolerate it in my family, in my home, and certainly not in my classroom.

But…

If I am in a store parking lot at night alone and see a young man walking across the lot towards me, I clutch my purse.  If he’s black or Hispanic, I might clutch my purse tighter.  I don’t do it on purpose, I don’t want to do it, but I do it just the same.  And I know I am not alone in this subconscious act.

When I receive a new Latino student who has just come from another country, I make assumptions.  Her parents are “looking for a better life here”.  Her parents are probably uneducated themselves.  They’ve had a tough time of it.  The assumptions are based on a stereotype, which may be true of a majority or minority, but that’s where racism comes from.

When a student comes to me from an Asian family, I assume they have a great work ethic and will be good students.  Even if it’s positive, it’s still a stereotype.

None of us are without bias.  And all of us have been touched in our lives by individuals who have perpetuated racial stereotypes and thus reinforced whatever biases we may have.

But no one wants to admit their racism.

It’s there.

I hear it in the comments by black coworkers that they don’t trust the white cops.

I see it in the way my white colleagues look at their minority students with that “you know how they are” look.

I witness it when a parent curses at our Mexican registrar and calls her a racist because he doesn’t get his way.

It amazes me that the President of the United States has had his nationality and religion so vehemently disputed by white citizens who, despite overwhelming evidence, refuse to believe that a black man named Barack Hussein Obama is actually their President.

It amazes me that Bill Cosby can chastise African-American youth and call on African-American men to step up and be there for their families, and yet he has been vilified by some in the African-American community.

It amazes me that when Morgan Freeman asserts that the Tea Party is racist, he is slammed with racial slurs by those who support the Tea Party.

And legislation in Arizona on any given day leaves my head spinning.

We haven’t come as far as we think.

 

PS – I will not tolerate racial slurs and hatred in my home or in my classroom, and I won’t tolerate them in my comments.  Just so you know.

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