I was reading I Owe You Nothing’s blog about racism, and it brought up something that I have noticed. The stereotype is that white people are racist, as the Yahoo question they referred to implies. This assumption is in itself racist. As I Owe You Nothing points out, people are racist, no matter the color or creed.
I grew up in a town that is mostly white. Madrid was very unusual for New Mexico in this way. As such, there may be racism there that I am unaware of, but as far as I can tell, Madroids have a very “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you” attitude. Because the town was so small, I went to school in Santa Fe, which is more diverse, just because of the higher numbers of people. It is predominantly Hispanic. I was always a little out of place, but I never really got that it was because of my ethnicity. I am weird, and that scares people.
I have spent a lot of time in different cities across the states and, maybe I was sheltered in some way, but I never really had an experience where people really seemed prejudiced. (That said, going to London during the Bush administration meant apologizing a lot.) Some people do make ethnic jokes, but recognize that it is racist and do not treat people differently.
I always knew that racism is still an issue in many places. I know people who have not been promoted and attributed that to a racial prejudice, which is quite possibly the case. The first time when I have ever really noticed that people actually believe racial stereotypes is the town where I now live. Ironically, it is the most diverse place I have ever been. Periodically I have people at the front desk ask me if someone that they have not seen is of a specific race or not based on the person’s actions. I refuse to answer these questions. I do not believe that it matters. The person always gives me some excuse about how they are not being racist, they are just going off of their experience or what someone told them. The people who make these statements are not all of one race, but many different races.
I choose not to try to figure out what my experience means. When I am confronted with this type of issue I try to deal with it in the best way I can. Usually I just get confused, and the person gets defensive. I just hope that when they leave they think about it and realize that their judgment can be at the least offensive, and possibly cause larger issues.
I totally realize that a white girl talking about racism and especially about not having seen it will result in a lot of “White Privilege” talk. I recognize that I may have been sheltered, and am thankful for it. I am thankful that I did not grow up hearing hate speech and fighting my way through the ranks. I believe that not being exposed to racism ideas makes it so that I recognize it better. I believe that living without that negative impact is a good thing, and I will continue to try to bring that to others.
All that said, in reference to my previous post, Feminism, about how a fight for equality can be pushed too far, I do have to say that although minorities are underrepresented in the mainstream media, fixing that would be better than creating different channels for everyone. The Black Entertainment Channel is a perfect example. If we were to create a White Entertainment Channel there would be boycotts. How about instead of re-instituting segregation, we continue the fight for equality?
Update – The area where I work is not the greatest place, there are a lot of hotels on this street, and there are many undesirable activities and people here too. Since I have been working here I have been criticized by my bosses for letting bad people stay. I have taken the re-active action of creating a list of people not to rent to – people who have caused problems in the past. However this does nothing to prevent problems in the first place, and I am constantly encouraged to ‘use my own judgement’ about who to rent to. If we don’t really want someone here, we boost the rate, and add a deposit. Officially we require it of everyone, but in reality it would drive all of our customers away, so it is a judgement call. I hate doing this, and I do count on my gut instincts. I try very hard to make sure that those judgements are not directly related to race, but I am sure that is how it may seem to some, and I feel terrible about it. I feel like this place is making me a person that I do not want to be.