*WARNING: Today’s post is a heavy topic, and probably not everyone’s cup of tea. But please stick with me! It starts out heavy, but it gets better, I promise!
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve recently gone back to school to earn another degree. I’m majoring in Sociology and have been LOVING it (I’ve always been fascinated by people). But there’s one topic that keeps coming up, and it’s always handled in the same way-
dun dun dun…
It’s always presented strictly in the realm of “whites against African Americans (and the occasional Hispanic).” And it’s presented in such a way that makes “white” sound like a dirty word. Recently in one of my classes, we had to write a reaction paper about an article by a sociologist that did a study on racism, focusing ONLY on “whites against blacks.” (I keep putting that in quotes because, like I said, they always make them sound like dirty words). Her “conclusion”- racism exists on a sliding scale vs absolutes, and EVERY “white” person is, to some degree, racist. Needless to say, her research was spotty at best.
*Note: I’ve been sitting on this for awhile because I was waiting for my paper to be run through the plagiarism software, and now that my grade has been posted, I feel safe in writing this!
Don’t get me wrong, I know racism is still going strong across this amazing country, and frankly, around the globe. I have several problems with this topic though…
A) I love sociology, but it drives me crazy too because the goal of a sociologist is to study what is actually happening in society. It’s not meant to be a “solutions-based” discipline. I have an inherent need to fix things, so this bothers me.
B) I agree with the idea that racism exists on a continuum, but I have a serious problem with singling out any race against any other race. I feel like racism is a very individual thing, even as it’s a societal problem.
C) I hate how our country chooses to tackle the topic of racism. Those that are “race aware” are so afraid of potentially offending someone, that we as a society have somehow decided that being “color-blind” is the solution.
I grew up in an atmosphere of diversity and curiosity. My parents, especially my mom, always encouraged my sister and me to have an open curiosity about pretty much anything (except why the rules of the house were, in fact, the rules of the house. She didn’t appreciate our curiosity about that).
I grew up in a culturally and economically diverse area, and never saw myself as DIFFERENT than others, even knowing we were different. My mom worked for an extremely diverse company, and later, I worked for an extremely diverse company. I had friends that were, yes, black, white, hispanic, and asian, but more than that, they were (are) Haitian, Filipino, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Morroccan, Guyanese, Wisconsian… I could sit around a table with my peeps and appreciate that we were so diverse, without sitting there thinking “wow. I’m sitting at a table with …”
I was taught to be curious about cultures. I have always had an inherent curiosity about people and their heritage.
I truly believe that the only way out of ignorance and racism is through curiosity and education.
I truly believe that there are a lot of us out there who have this healthy curiosity.
I truly believe that most people want to be curious, but have been told by society that somehow asking questions shines a spotlight on differences, and that is bad.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I have a catch phrase that I adopted from my past workplace:
I LIVE this phrase- every single day.
I think recognizing differences is a good thing.
Knowing where you came from and how you came to be, is an amazing adventure and personal story. Why shouldn’t every single person appreciate and celebrate that??
Why have we been taught that we should be color-blind, when our colors tell a story of who we are, and contribute to the beauty that we each inherently possess?
Why can’t we see color, appreciate it for the evolutionary and biological miracle that it is (read up on how pigmentation evolved- it’s truly fascinating!), and live, knowing we are surrounded by so much diversity and exquisiteness?
Why can’t we be fascinated by each person’s histories, and our own?
How can we learn anything at all, and move forward as a species, when we don’t learn anything from and about the awesome differences around us?
People are truly amazing. Personally, I think every high schooler should be required to take a year of geneology, learn their history and heritage, and teach their classes about where they came from. How amazing would that be??
In sociology, it’s called “Social Contact Hypothesis.” It essentially states that increasing interaction with other groups and working toward common goals, helps to eliminate prejudices towards those “out-groups.” I just call it “CELEBRATE DIVERSITY!”
Now go! Learn things! (That’s my nod to NCIS: New Orleans) 😉
QOTD: What are your thoughts on this hot button issue?