I'm racially prejudiced and I'm not (that) afraid to admit it.
After this week's brouhaha over Obama's pastor and Obama's speech on race and Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person," I feel like beginning to talk about race, prejudice and our society.
Normally I don't have that much trouble writing posts. Usually it is keeping blog topics short and to the point that is my struggle. But writing about race is so painful and touchy that it has taken me days to get around to starting this.
Prejudiced, yeah, that's what I said. I don't mean I think my race is superior or that I deserve to be treated better than others. I just know that when I see someone, their race is one of the first things that I notice about them and that I make certain unspoken assumptions about people based on their ethnic heritage.
I was surprised to find out that some people took offense to Obama saying that a typical white person would be a little afraid when a black man passed her on the street. It seemed so normal to me. Yeah, more afraid of black men than men of other ethnicities, of course, isn't everyone?
Examining the evidence, I have no real reason to feel that way. I have lived in overwhelmingly white communities my whole life. A 5 percent black population would be high for places I have lived. No black man has ever menaced me in any way.
But because I live and breathe in this society at this time, I "know" black men are dangerous and I can't ever remember a time when that wasn't so. I would venture to say that it is almost impossible to grow up outside of black culture and see black men as whole, rounded human beings instead of caricatures.
It is to my detriment that I have not worked harder to root out my prejudices. Part of the problem is that race is such a charged issue that it is easier to keep smiling and pretending that everything is okay than it is to wade into the muck wrestle down those misconceptions. I'm also afraid that, no matter how hard I work or how much I learn, that there will still be those deeply buried subconscious bits.
I am awkward about -isms. I am eager not to offend and sometimes tie my tongue in knots trying not to say or do the wrong thing.
My hope is that, no matter what my deep-seated, hair-trigger emotions are, I can treat everyone I meet with the dignity and respect they deserve.