So, here in the United States there are some people who believe we live in a “post racist” society. Apparently some of these people are even my friends on Facebook, based on some of the posts I see on their walls. Interesting… It always amazes me when I see comments such as “I am not racist, but…” That “but” says a lot about how you really feel inside, whether you know it or not. While explicit racism is not as common as it once was, implicit racism is rampant.
You may be wondering, “what is implicit racism?” Well, good thing for you I wrote a paper and did extensive research for my Research Methods class last semester on implicit racism, explicit racism and and how those things make us value (or not) diversity. So explicit racism is overt, obvious……using the N word, talking openly about people who are not white, or Christian, or middle class being “less than” or not as good as the person who is doing the speaking. It is easy to see and hear their racist beliefs and we can choose to avoid them, if we don’t want to be exposed to that nonsense..
Implicit racism is harder to see, and is usually a set of thoughts or stereotypes or biases we believe and act on, whether we are aware of it or not. Such as crossing the street if we see a black man walking on our side of the street, clutching our purse a little tighter, thinking poor people are “lazy”, or just don’t try “hard enough” to get themselves out of poverty.
But I think we are dealing with another form of implicit racism these days. People who want so much not to be looked at as racist or biased that they go to great lengths to publicly state their “non bias”. They say things like, “I don’t see color when I look at people.” Ok, at the risk of getting yelled at, I am going to publicly say I think that is a ridiculous statement.
*ducking to avoid tomatoes*
Okay, now before you get your undies in a bunch, I DO understand what they mean, but I think by saying they don’t “see color” they are actually devaluing diversity and cultural differences. There are cultural differences (in my humble opinion) between races. They may be small, but they are there. I think these differences should be celebrated, not done away with. Cultural diversity (in fact ALL diversity) makes the tapestry of humanity more colorful and vibrant, it doesn’t detract from that. Why would we want everyone to be the same??? What an incredibly boring world that would be!!
So I am going to say I DO see color when I see people. I see all the beautiful shades of skin tone, and hair color and hair texture. I see eye color, and body size, and fully-abled or less-abled bodies. I see gender, whether male, or female or ambiguous. I see age, and sometimes I can see wealth or poverty. I see all of those things when I look at people. That doesn’t make me a racist. It makes me observant.
In my opinion, the problem is not in seeing our differences, but in assigning stereotypes and biases to the people we see based on what we see. To assume when we see a black person that the color of their skin somehow tells us something about their character is the problem. To see an Asian person and assume they are good at math is the problem. To see a brown person and assume they are not hard working is the problem. To place stereotypes and bias on a person merely by looking at them IS THE PROBLEM!! This does not just apply to the color or “hue” of someone’s skin, but also their gender, their physical bodies, their mental abilities.
Think about it, we can’t even assume that a person with darker pigmented skin is “african”. They may be of Caribbean, or African, or Middle Eastern, or indigenous heritage. They may be biracial, or multiracial. We can assume very little about someone based on external appearances. Assumptions and assigning stereotypes is the enemy, NOT seeing their “color”.
I think if we do want to truly become a post racist society we really need to think about this, and start valuing all humans for their differences, not try to make all humans the same. Do you “see color” when you look at people?
Go ahead and “see” a person’s color, and celebrate it! Move past bias and stereotypes and get to know the person, no matter what they look like on the outside. Find something of value in them, and remove the stereotype! THEN maybe we can become the post racist society I dream of us becoming!
I believe with all my heart that we can overcome bias and stereotypes that cause so many people difficulty. Join me in this effort!
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