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 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.