Racism has been a raging topic in the United States lately. From the police shootings to the white supremacist rallies, there are so many issues that have to be addressed in regard to racial inequality. Racism is a huge issue and there are large measures that need to be taken to deal with it. Yet there are little things that you can do to minimize racism where you are. Here are four things that you should stop saying if you want to make any progress.
“I don’t see color.”
This is actually a thing. When Obama became president a group of little friends surrounded me. They were terrified. They explained how America was going to become an abomination.
“He is going to make all the white people into slaves!” they cried in alarm.
“Would we make you into slaves?” I asked shocked referring to myself and my two siblings.
“No,” they responded confused.
Their eyes widened as they realized that I was indeed black! They weren’t sure how to respond. I assured them that black people had no intention of making white people slaves.
Please, stop this nonsense of “not seeing color.” I want you to notice that I am black. Notice it. Celebrate it. Learn about it. Get to know me as a person and see how that plays in.
“That was so ignorant.”
Why should that sentence be coming out of your mouth? Don’t shame the person. Educate the person before they have any time to put their walls up. They will be better for it. It won’t hurt you to explain that what you are wearing on your head is your natural hair and not a weave. If you are brave, let them touch your hair if they ask nicely.
“We need to treat everyone the same.”
What a piece of nonsense. Some people are misled to believe that equality means the same. There is more to it than that. Let’s just feed everyone baby food because we can’t be treating the baby’s special. Seriously?
Three people were cooking in the kitchen. There was a small child who could not reach the counter because he was too short. Do I need to bring them all step stools so they can all be equal? No. I just need to bring the child a step stool. In the same way if a black person needs a little more help to climb up the ladder to success, then help him! Now, that’s equality.
All lives matter. Yes, they do and black people know this; however, that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about racial inequality towards black especially in the area of police violence. If you want to join the conversation, then help find solutions. If not, go do something else useful or shut up.
My Chinese American friend, Rachel, was showing me her binder. She had drawn little symbols of things that made up her identity –her violin, her piano. Then, I spotted a bowl of rice and a small red flag.
“What is that?” I asked.
“I am Chinese.”
I pulled up the corners of my eyes with my thumbs. I could become a Chinese too!
“Who do I look like?” I asked.
“Yourself,” she responded flatly.
Apparently, I couldn’t become Chinese by stretching out my eyelids. I understood that it was not appropriate to mock her in that way. Her gentle rebuke was enough. I didn’t stop being racist right away, but I learned a little bit more.
I think it’s unnecessary to assume someone is a racist because they treat you poorly and it’s useless to tell them such a thing to their face. Why? The people who actually care may become overly defensive. It will be a waste of breath on those who don’t care. Likely said behavior is fundamentally wrong so say so and explain why it hurts or offends you. If applicable, ask for what you need. This gives the person the opportunity to make changes. If the behavior isn’t fundamentally wrong, wisely call them out or let it go.
When we encounter racism or a rude white person, my immediate family and I assume that the racist simply treats everyone in his life with such a despicable attitude. We don’t tend to assume their treatment is connected to the color of our skin. They are probably just a douche bag in general.
The fact of the matter is that everybody is probably a little racist in a sense. Everybody is more comfortable with their kind. Often it is more key to gently help them out of their comfort zone. For those of us who are racist we just need be aware of how our racism can harm others and activity work to minimize the damage. For now, start by being okay with being racist.