The End of Racism – Maybe not yet

African Americans There are all kinds of Ism’s – racism, sexism, ageism, and their presence varies across state and regional boundaries. Having grown up in the United States, I was baptized in the waters of racism against African Americans. When faced with that situation, one can choose to respond in several ways including ignoring, reacting, and avoiding, but the choices made at an early age become embedded in ones psyche for life.

Being the only African American in my elementary school (I’m the chocolate drop in the backrow on the left of the school picture), I chose to ignore the taunts and expectations by excelling. Therefore, as an adult, I literally do not see any of the ism’s and even when they are St charles 1st communion restore pointed out… I ignore them as someone else’s problem. If Dr. Phil were to ask “how’s that working for you”, I would say it works very well, because I don’t have to get caught up in someone else’s dysfunction.

 At a recent dinner party, I was explaining experiences I am having with my college students in the UAE and found that my experiences were diametrically different from those of the “majority” instructor. With further probing discussion, I was asked by the “majority” faculty member if I thought I was experiencing racism. That question was like having a glass of ice water thrown in my face, because that was the furthest thing from my mind. It literally never occurred to me. (Note the other “majority” faculty members at the dinner party were generally silent on this topic.)

A week later, unprompted by me, a faculty member from India made the statement that the students do not respect him. This again was totally different from the comment of the “majority” faculty member. I don’t want to believe it and two data points from two brown-skin people are not enough to clearly say that racism is at play here, and if it is, what do I do with that information.

I suppose that as long as humans walk this earth, there will be some kind of ism. It seems to be part of humanism.

Stay tuned

One thought on “The End of Racism – Maybe not yet

  1. I am responding to the statement “I don’t want to believe it”. I gently offer these words, “believe it”. Racism, “colorism”, prejudice, or whatever we want to call it is very real and it exists around the world. I believe your majority colleague was correct and the Indian colleague called it correctly as well. Many who look like us have learned well how to ignore color based negativity and we have developed a skill set that has allowed us to move forward in life in spite of the attitudes and low expectations of others. This is a good coping mechanism, however, the coping mechanism does not mitigate the reality of racism.

    While race is a construct, racism or colorism is not, it is the lived reality of people with dark skin. Even though the concept of “dark skin” varies by hue around the world, there is a line that is drawn and it separates “them” from “us”. This is an important life lesson for all people of color to remember. To remember is not to suggest that we wrap ourselves up with fear and/or excuses about the treatment we receive from others, but rather the knowing has protective qualities that can only come from forewarned knowledge.

    This knowledge simply allows us to remember that the techniques we use to protect us from negative energy does not eliminate the presence of that energy. Our coping mechanisms help to protect us from the damage these “isms” might have on our psyche, but to proceed further and believe that the micro-aggressions of racism, unconscious or conscious do not exist, is like moving behind enemy lines without an awareness of the dangers inherent of being there.

    After reading your blog, I began to wonder if perhaps the comments from the two faculty colleagues were placed in your path for a reason. . . . .

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