I'm a racist (and chances are you are too)
Hello, my name is Robin and I’m a racist, profiling, judgmental, puter of people in boxes. As a white woman who was born and raised in the south, I have encountered my fair share of racism. I’ve given and received it in equal measures. I’ve had African American people judge me and call me cracker. On more than one occasion, I’ve used the N word to describe a person of color. I’ve had terrifying experiences where I was sexually or physically harassed by a person of color, and then used that to profile someone else based on that past experience. (You know, because the actions of five different people are indicative of the other one million). But sadly, my prejudices don’t stop there; I’ve also judged many other people due to their outside appearances. After 9-11, I heard and probably participated in racial slurring of Middle Eastern people. I’ve made fun of mentally handicaped people. I’ve assumed someone who is overweight is lazy. I’ve believed if you’re from New York, you’re a loud-mouthed jerk, if you are from Miami, you’re a drug dealer. I’ve assumed _____ because I saw the color of your skin, heard your accent, or heard you were from some far away land. These are all sad but true realities. But I think acknowledging these truths is the only real way to change.
The recent events of the death of George Flyod have brought to surface a deep wound that has been permeating our psyche for some time. Forced segregation was stopped some time ago but on many levels, we continue to impose it upon ourselves. We may refuse to date, love, interact, or accept people of different colors, nationalities, political views, religious beliefs, genders, and sexual preferences. In an instant, we profile and sort a person based on some randomly assigned physical attribute they were assigned in the genetic lottery. We sort into categories of good, bad, worthy or unworthy of our time, attention and respect. By doing this, we completely miss the opportunity to know someone on a deeper level.
As human beings, when we see the ugly side of our nature, we want to persecute and condemn those who have been outwardly vocal or visible with their hatred. In this weird way, I think it allows the rest of us to go about our judgement in this safe, closed off environment. We don’t have to own up to our own prejudices because we can point the finger at the “bad guy”. It allows us to ignore the fact that every single one of us has judged someone based on some factor that is really out of their control. Or, we have the complete opposite side of the coin, those who are virtually blind to the inherent racism of our country. It is a part of their belief system, culture, their heritage and their everyday life to belief that certain groups of people are lazy, stupid, ignorant or just all around no good.
How did we get here? A country that is supposed to be a melting pot of cultures and races. Accepting of everyone, regardless of skin color or nationality. One little four-letter word is driving the bus - Fear. Fear is always at the helm of our deepest, darkest wounds. It makes us think we need to put others down. It makes us feel like we need to condemn an entire race because of the actions of a few. So, how do we, as a nation begin to heal this deep wound of mistrust and hatred between the races? I am a firm believer that any lasting, real change has to start internally with me. I have to start asking myself some hard-hitting questions. What is it about my internal landscape that causes me to put someone in a box because of the color of their skin? Why would I not consider seriously dating people of certain ethnicities? Preference or something much deeper and insidious? Why do I believe this about this group of people? Is it true? Is this harmful or helpful?
For us to shift this, change has to happen every single day. In the way I treat others, in the way I talk about them (in front of and behind their backs). I have to start being accountable for my words, actions and judgments. If I make a mistake (and God knows I will), I have to fess up to it. I need to pray about it. When able to, I need to reach out to the person I harmed and apologize. If I was talking to a friend about someone, I could have another conversation with my loved one and explain to them how I’m trying to change and how I am rethinking my judgments. Change of this magnitude is going to require patience, love, compassion and acceptance for one another – even, especially, in our imperfections. We have ALL said or done something in our past we are not proud of. We have all judged others because of the color of their skin, their country of origin or their physical appearance. But we have ALL loved, we have been loved and this same love can be extended to groups of people we currently think is impossible. Be open to having a real conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. Be open to seeing someone in a different light. See the similarities instead of the differences. See the pure soul that each and every one of us possesses, the inter-connectedness we all share. See only love.
To those of color (or any other category I have profiled) who might be reading this, I sincerely apologize. I apologize for my current and past ignorance. I apologize for my inherent white privilege. I apologize for assuming you were anything less than the perfection that you are. I apologize for seeing you as anything other than a child of God, my equal, my counterpart. I send you much love and light during this difficult time. I send you love and light for your daily struggle to be seen as equal. I love you and am here as a beacon of light. Let's anchor in what we want - love, acceptance, peace, equality and understanding.
I love ya'll :)