National Blog Posting Month – September 2014 – Healing
Prompt – Why do you think it is so difficult for people to talk about race?
Race can be easy to ignore, when you live somewhere where you are a member of the dominant race. For example, I was raised in Utah. Everyone in my school was white. (Or Tongan, which is another story.) There were token Aftrican-Americans, and the occasional Hispanic, but we were pretty much all white. And the other races were fully assimilated. We all acted white. We were all the same.
It wasn’t until I moved to Florida that I realized that this had even happened. Up to that point I was adamantly not racist. Of course not. I had several friends who weren’t white. Some were even Native American. I was quite pleased with my open-mindedness.
Until I walked into that fast food restaurant and realized I was the only white person there. Then all these hidden prejudices crept out. I got my food and bolted. I ran not as much because I was afraid something would happen, but because I was totally embarrassed and humiliated by my own reaction (even though I doubt anyone even noticed).
Four years living in Florida, I mostly got beyond that bias – that horrible prejudice – but I know it still is there. And I know it’s undeserved. I’m still embarrassed.
The only reason why I know about my prejudice is because it was thrown in my face. And the only reason why I might be able to move beyond it is because I know it’s foolish and I make a conscious effort to not be that way. I model for my child an unprejudiced person so he will grow up not feeling it himself (though no doubt he will at some level). It takes work, sometimes hard work.
So why don’t we like to talk about race? It’s easy to ignore, especially in a sheltered community where almost everyone is the same race. So it’s not a problem. Right?
Only it is. But to fix it we have to step outside of our comfort zone. We have to accept that we aren’t perfect. We have to recognize and admit our prejudices. And we have to do something about it. We have to act. We have to take a risk. Stick our necks out. That’s no fun.
Let’s not talk about that.