I consider myself an open-minded person. First to listen and then speak about new ideas and to consider all points of view. However, one area I feel like the more I learn the less I know is racism.
Are we allowed to talk about this? I mean, I’m getting all angsty just writing about it. Plus, I just want to have an open and thoughtful dialogue that doesn’t end with table flipping, Real Housewives-style.
As a person who seeks to understand, my eyes have been opened in the last few years to some everyday racism I never even knew existed. Things I just accepted as normal in my white bread world. Shows like Blackish (which is also sooo funny!) have opened my eyes to a great many other issues as well. Events like Juneteenth. I never even heard of it before their episode and I’m sad it’s not a thing! It recognizes the official end of slavery – two and a half years after it was legally abolished. Which is so beyond.
I’m also listening to Phoebe Robinson’s “You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have To Explain” book. It’s a comedic look at race, gender and pop culture. She’s hilarious and I’m truly enjoying her insights and quips.
But here’s where I start to get confused about racism. She started speaking about microaggression – brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group.
The specific example she gave involved her being ignored in the framing section of Michaels. She said there were no other customers and two employees who kept whizzing past her. She said two other white people came in and they were helped immediately. When she was finally helped, she asked why she was the first one in the department and the last one helped and was greeted with a generic answer about being busy.
When Has Racism Occurred?
She viewed this as a microaggression against her because she’s black. I’m not doubting microaggressions happen daily and to all sorts of marginalized individuals. I also understand given the plight of blacks in history, people who are so frequently oppressed, they tend to expect it, but that same type of thing has happened to me before. I also realize this was just one example out of many, but why did she assume this situation was racially motivated? When has racism actually occurred?
Okay, are we still okay? No one is getting upset, right? I’m asking a serious question with hopes of gaining thoughtful knowledge into the subject of racism.
I guess what I’m saying is it’s all the nuances about racism that confuse me. I truly believe I am not racist and only judge stupidity which can encompass all races and creeds. However, learning about all the ways a person is made to feel less than in our world makes me wonder if we can ever really eradicate racism for good when it will be found in every single thing.
This is a topic explored frequently on Blackish as well. Dre tends to find it easily while Bow tends to believe he exaggerates things. It appears this is an issue within the black community as well.
Help me out. Help the world out. Let’s live in a kinder, more accepting world where we can be free to be you and me (but maybe in a less kumbaya and holding hands in a circle sorta way). What’s the answer? How can we stop racism?