Everyone Sees Race: Pretending You Don’t Is Ridiculous

erase race, make us all shades of gray
Is the key to erasing racism just erasing race? Erasing acknowledgment of the differences that make us unique? Would the world be better in shades of gray?

I hate when people say they don’t notice race. Of course you do. You’re not blind. Not only can you see the tone of someone’s skin, you can see the differences in their facial features, eye colours, hair textures, heights, and weights. You can hear the differences in tone of voice, accent, inflection, and word choice. You can look at 2 different people with generally the same skin coloring and guess that one is from East Asia, and one is from The Caribbean. There are cues and indications of race written all over us.

Why is it that some people think that saying “I don’t even see race”, or “I don’t even notice the colour of someone’s skin” is somehow complimentary, and is an indication of their lack of racist thoughts? I generally despise when people say that everyone is the same to them. Like somehow, any differences in people’s ancestry or cultural beliefs and values no longer exist. Are you so desperate to be seen as not racist, and so confused on what the definition of racism is, that you’d prefer for the concept of race and/or culture to just be eliminated all-together? Not only is that silly and naïve, but it’s downright insulting.

Race exists. And whether you want to condemn someone based on their race, or make their race disappear because acknowledging it makes you uncomfortable, you’re still expressing prejudice. What is your problem with acknowledging that someone is different from you in some ways? Does the fact that they are different in some ways make them lesser? Is it that, in your brain, you feel as though you just happen to be the standard, the ideal of what makes someone a human being, so anybody who differs slightly from you doesn’t quite measure up on your scale? Or is it some type of projected reverse ethnocentrism, where you feel as though people in other races/cultures think that they don’t measure up to yours, so you kindly negate the differences for them, so they don’t have to feel inferior to you (the poor things)?

Ethnocentrism

eth·no·cen·trism [eth-noh-sen-triz-uhm] noun:               1.Sociology . the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s ownethnic group or culture.     2.a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspectiveof one’s own.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ethnocentrism

Reverse Ethnocentrism:
a type of ethnocentrism in which the home culture [or ones own culture] is regarded as inferior to a foreign culture.

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Lets face it bitch. You're jealous of me and you hate me because you know I'm so much better than you.
Source: Rottenecards.com
Narcissist, delusional, wishful thinker, or perceptive? You decide

Last week I was reading a blog post, which is what sparked this rant in my mind. You can see the post that originally brought this to my attention here, or take a look at the commentary that sparked that post here, and the article written by the white woman here. Now, while I have tended to side with both blog writers, and the outraged commenters, what rang so loud and true in my head as I read this woman’s ridiculous article was not necessarily all of the generally veiled racism she didn’t seem to understand she was spouting with a vengeance. It was the fact that this white woman with her perfect little white-woman body began to create this scenario in her mind where she is being resented and is causing so much distress to the fat black woman for two reasons. First, it was the fact that this poor black woman made the unfortunate mistake of setting up her mat behind this delusional woman, and second, because she was projecting her reverse ethnocentrism onto said woman.

How could this woman assume that her blond hair, white skin, and tiny little body was what was the ideal in the other woman’s mind, and therefore something that could cause resentment and envy to fester? See, this is what happens when you try to erase racial and cultural differences. Lady, while I am sure that there are in fact black women who wish they could be just like you, from my experience, most black women do not aspire to be a skinny, blond, white woman when they grow up. They want curves, some booty, some jiggle to their thighs. They know that an all blond ‘do would look ridiculous with their skin tone, and they are in LOVE with their skin tone! Who are you to decide that this woman wants to be you, and hates you cause she can’t be? And because your ignorant self would never start a conversation with her, because you would just be mortified if you woke up one day fat and black (which really could be the kinda curvy a lot of black women like, for all we know…she never really specified) and would just want to disappear into a hole in the ground, doesn’t mean that anybody but you feels that way.

our differences make us beautiful
What makes us special are the things that make us unique. Culture, race, religion, personality, character, interests, experiences- they combine together to make us who we are…why would we want to lose any piece of that?

So that lady illustrated two important points: the first being that, acknowledging differences in culture and race can be prejudiced and/or racist, and that ethnocentrism is for morons. But honestly, I would rather that lady come speak to me than some delusional “the colour of your skin is invisible to me” idiot. I mean, really? Do you not see how that could be equally terrible? To ignore all of the things that make me special, to just wipe them away and never acknowledge them…how does that make us equal? Isn’t equality the fact that, given all of my differences and similarities, I am still JUST as special and awesome and as privileged as you are? I get all of those same rights, regardless of the differences that go skin deep?

I went to school with primarily white people all the way until high school. There was maybe a handful of children from other races until middle school, but I never felt as though I was some freak, or that there was something wrong with being black. Nor did I feel like it didn’t matter, like nobody noticed. Sure, I was black…where was I from? My background is Jamaican…cool! They would ask questions, I would answer. How the hell else do you learn about things you don’t know unless you ask, right? Then, when we were in high school, and the questions had long ago been exhausted, the new dialogues that would happen still acknowledged my background, while not making it something that made us from different planets. So, something along the lines of:

“OMG Sarah, I LOVE your hair that colour!”

“Ugh, I know, but I hate my man shoulders! Ugh, Ruby, you are SO lucky you don’t get freckles!”

“Ummmmm yes I do, on my nose!”

“Yeah, but at least you don’t get them all over your body..I feel like the speckled monster!”

“Yeah, but your lashes are sooooo dark next to your pale skin girl! You don’t even need mascara, you look hot when you roll out of bed!”

And so on. The point is, they saw my race. They saw my difference in skin colour. Was it some big issue? No. But should they have pretended that I looked just like them, and that perming my hair every 2 months had the same stresses and challenges as having naturally straight hair? Of course not. I’m proud of everything that makes me..whether it makes me the same or different from you is kind of irrelevant. But I want all of me acknowledged, and all of me to be accepted and embraced, not just the parts of me that you can relate to or stomach.

grinds gears on raceAnd finally, to that little white woman who think she’s the envy of the world. I want a black booty. In fact, I would do terrible things to obtain one. I think a full figure with lots of curves is sexy. In fact, the other day I was complaining you could see my ribs and how desperately I wanted not to be underweight (which is not a choice – its due to my health issues)…and the person I was speaking to said, “do you know how many white girls would kill for that?!!?!” Well, I personally know one. And I don’t understand her, to idealize seeing your ribs is just… *shudders*…but to me, it makes me look as sick as I feel, and I want to look young and healthy and vibrant…which to me, means some meat on your bones and junk in the trunk.

I don’t particularly like blond hair on anyone, but definitely not on me. And when I was a little kid, like most kids, I wanted the things I didn’t get to have, like glasses and braces and, the one that is relevant to this post, someone else’s hair type. Was it your hair I was coveting, Miss Thang? Hell no! I wanted that wavy Trini hair, or for my hair to be naturally like Scary Spice, in the Spice Girls. Just saying.

Just my two cents on the situation. Do you agree? Disagree? If you’re one of those people that claim not to see race, and therefore never acknowledge race, why? Are you for real, or do you think that it’s really just the PC thing to do?

Browsing YouTube I actually came across this video that fits perfectly within this post. Y’all need to check this out, and go like the post on YouTube. I was basically cheering by the end of her vid. Not at all what I was expecting, but boy was I pleasantly surprised!

See, it was amazing, right? Don’t you just wanna give her a standing ovation? Especially considering that she knew off the bat she was going to catch a lot of flack and opposition.

Anyway, a nice lil rant to start off your wonderful first week in February 20-14, and the first week in Black History Month!

Happy Monday y’all!

Cheers

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40 Comments

  1. This piece was great. I’m glad you brought this up for the attention of those like myself who did not come across this article in their dealings. And this ethnocentrism, I was not aware of the term before this so I learned a great deal from you today.

    I agree with all that you have said. I find it offensive when persons assume that all black people are either African or Jamaican, or call all Asians Chinese or all brown people Indian. If it is wrong to assume all people that are black are from Africa because you don’t see any difference or recognize any difference – just because they are black they must all be the same, it is wrong to ignore all the differences between people in general and say that you don’t see their race differences.

    Being different from one another is not bad or wrong, rather our perception of what those differences mean that can have that bad or wrong potential.

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    1. And I agree about the video as well. I liked it and shared the video and this post on my Facebook and Twitter. Very great and entertaining and informative. Well done, you have gained a follower in me. I am very happy to have come across your blog on Twitter. Thanks again and looking forward to your future posts

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      1. Thank you for the shares, for both of us… I definitely appreciate it, and I’m sure she will too… And if common sense was a person, he or she would be high-fiving you in appreciation as well!

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    2. Thanks for your comments they are much appreciated! And I’m glad you learned something from my post, I always try to share what I know with you all.

      And I too agree with all that you have said. It is truly offensive to call all Asian people Chinese, etc… And there is actually a psychological reason behind that, to some extent (other than those who say it cause they’re being ignorant) so stay tuned cause I’ll be covering that term in a future post *wink wink*

      Yes, I think the point I was trying to get at is exactly that… That the only reason you would want to negate the differences that you see is because you think there is something wrong with those differences, or with the pride who are different from you.

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  2. Let me see if I can say this as a white male without getting into too much trouble. First of all, I am really color blind. Do I see color? Yes, but not the same way someone else might. I think the reason steer away from discussing color or ignoring color is because they don’t want their words judged or to feel prejudiced. I would hate to blame stereotyping as the culprit for people’s reactions to someone who is not their own skin color, but sometimes that is exactly what is boils down to.

    Beyond our skin color we are all different, but we are all the same, because before one can be anything else we are held together with one strong common bond, we are all human beings. After that “man” takes over and lets our differences become “problems” within society and culture. You are correct, a person who says he/she doesn’t see color is an idiot.

    Each of us looks at another person and judge them either based on ourselves or what we have learned in our life. We see every detail, we know what a person looks like but rarely get to know the person because of whatever screwed up reason that could apply. I have both types in my family, the racist and the no color seeing fools. I get to see both sides of the fence. Trying to explain that we are all just human beings is a hard stretch for someone who will not let go of what they have been taught or what they have learned.

    Good post. Way to get people to think about how they treat people. Sometime “indifference” is more harmful than speaking one’s mind.

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    1. @ScorpionSting

      While you start off by saying you are colorblind, you follow up by explaining what you mean – and your follow up explanation makes a lot of sens and is kind of where I’m going with all of this. You’re not colorblind, you see the color of someone’s skin and can probably take a pretty accurate guess at their race. What I take from what you’ve said is that those differences in skin tone and race don’t really matter to you in a way that would cause you to treat someone differently or judge them, because of those differences. Because underneath it all, we are all the same species and those differences are really only on the surface. Character and personality traits are what lie within, and are not attributable to any one race – so trying to assign some trait, negative or positive, to anyone who has that skin tone is ridiculous… And excluding certain basic human traits and things from them, such as goodness and equality, is equally asinine.

      And I love the point you’ve brought up about having the racist and the “race-blind” extremes within your family, because I have a guess that the latter condition is formed trying to battle against the former. If you are conditioned growing up to be racist, and in your heart don’t believe those racist values to be true, then when you are able to run your own life, you’re going to choose to follow your heart. But nobody has ever taught you how to value racial or cultural differences, to see them as a wonderful thing… And so your main focus is to get the point across that you don’t think those differences make someone lesser than, or somehow terrible… Which I think creates this race-blindness phenomena… it is easier to just not acknowledge what you see with your own two eyes for fear deep inside you are racist, rather than to just embrace all the wonderful differences that humanity has to offer.

      I think in these cases, it’s always far better to just open your mouth and ask the questions, figure it out. Don’t hide worrying and wondering, and always afraid. People often react badly when they feel discriminated against… But of course, who could blame them? But, in my opinion, honest questions that come from an open and sincere place are not a racial attack, and generally won’t be met with hostility or anger.

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      1. You may have misunderstood when I said I was actually physically color blind. My color blindness is medically documented. I wasn’t saying it metaphorically to make a point. However, even though we see “color” differently my point remains the same. People make the judgments based on color for whatever reason they have.

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        1. @Scorpion Sting

          No. Actually I entirely missed the fact that you meant literally color blindness lol. My bad, OK now that makes so much more sense given everything else you said. Which type of color blindness do you suffer from? And if you don’t mind my asking, how does that impact your view of the differences in skin tone?

          For example, if you had to view just people’s arms lined up side by side, can you see the differences in skin tone between, say, a lighter-skinned black person and a very tanned white person? Or the differences between an Asian or Spanish skin tone versus white. Etc.

          For all of my studies in psychology, and learning about colorblindness, I cannot believe this question had yet to come up in my texts! If the question is too awkward I understand, just thought I’d put the question out there, since you offer a unique perspective most of us can only really imagine!

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          1. I don’t think I have been asked this before. I think the only way to answer would be that the “shade” is darker or lighter depending on race. But, and this is a big but, as I am white but very tan which makes me look Hispanic which throws people off because I am 6’8″ tall. Call that twisted or stereotypical because one usually doesn’t see a tall Hispanic man, its a rarity.

            I work with a unique set of people from around the globe. The people I work with are from Africa (a white man), South Africa (a black man), UK (both black and white), India, most of Europe, and of course from the United States (all of which are of Latin decent with the exception of me) but, to everyone there I am not white, to them I am Texan or American. I found similar things to be true while I was in the Air Force being stationed around the world.

            I have never done a side by side arm test, I would think that would employ looking for the stereotypical traits of different races which would rule out just seeing tone or shade. It would be an interesting experiment but being color blind is deeper than that. Here is a funny for you, I always wear black from head to toe? Do you know why? Because I never have to worry about not matching. When I get out black then my wife guides me.

            I think in the end, before I totally drive this off topic, I must say that it has been my personal experience that only in the United States do we see race as the problem. Yes, other countries deal with race relations as well but it has become deeply engrained into our culture and society. A persons color wouldn’t matter if the people of that color didn’t make such a big deal about being a certain color which applies to all races.

            Hey, sorry for the long reply.

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            1. @Scorpion Sting

              I asked about the side by side arm test because, not being able to see all shades of color in the visible spectrum, I imagine that some tell tale signs of ethnic decent based on skin tone would be lost on you… Like, if you can’t see yellows and reds, or greens and blues, then looking at two people who have the exact same skin tone except one has a reddish undertone and one has a yellow undertone, or one has an olive undertone and one doesn’t, I’m thinking you wouldn’t be able to see the difference at all? Or maybe you can, it would just sitar differently to you.

              Working as a beauty consultant, I’m a master at skin tone and undertone, and it makes a huge difference when trying to match foundation colors that you pick up on that hint of undertone. But here’s a question for you: I assume that people have told you that you look Hispanic based on your skin tone – when you see Hispanic people, do you see the resemblance in skin tone?

              And I agree to some extent that it’s only in north America that race is the big deal that it is… But only to some extent. I’ll be doing some posts later on in the month that cover some of the sigma and bias that goes with race, and skin tone in other countries as well, although I think the major difference between some other countries and here is what the underlying factors to that discrimination are. Because really, at the end of the day, discrimination based on the color of someone’s skin is not an image response, it’s a societal construct. You work with people from all over the world- have you seen or heard of any differences in race relations in other countries from them?

              And no worries, I love the long replies… Having one of my posts spark comments and discussion always makes me feel all warm and mushy inside lol.

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              1. This conversation has sparked some thoughts for me. I think I’m going do a post because I think this needs to be explored a bit more.

                I will shoot you a link when I’m done. Is it okay with you if I reference this post?

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                  1. I’m not comfortable dropping a link here, so I will just let you know that you know where to look to find my blog to find the post I did related to this subject. I look forward to your comments.

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  3. When it comes to skintone I acknowledge it but I don’t if that makes sense. I’m not constantly thinking she’s Asian or he’s Mexican when I’m talking to someone. I’m black and my step father is Polish, Hawaiian, and Japanese. As a kid, it sure as Hell didn’t go unnoticed because people would STARE. That was the one time I had wished people didn’t recognize skin tone. It bothers me a little when people say that because going to the grocery store in the 90’s was not fun, my dad picking me up from a summer camp I went to that was predominantly black was not fun…I got to see racism from both white and black.

    When I say I don’t see skin tone, it usually Stims from me knowing the person after a long period of time not when I first meet the person. I usually ask questions about their heritage and once I know, I acknowledge and continue on….but the problem arises when people can’t get pass your race. People who every other minute have a black joke, or say something and it follows with, “It’s because you’re black” sure I’m all good with a black jokes and what not but their needs to be a limit, same goes for me, a White joke, Mexican joke, Asian joke here and there, maybe noticing something I may not care for in a certain race is one of those things that should be minimum not stressed.

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    1. @Dean Martin

      As a child who, on one side of my family I am the only person with two black parents, having a white Jamaican grandmother, and a half sister who came out white as snow, I feel your distress at being the object of the nosy busybody’s and looky-loos’ scrutiny. And especially while growing up, when we’re all prone to feeling very awkward and self conscious, and are so desperate to fit it… or at least not stick out like a sore, diseased thumb.

      I find it interesting that you stop noticing race the longer you’ve known someone, because I suppose I am the opposite. At first glance, I notice a general race/skin tone. As I get to know you more I’ll find out your cultural background. And then the deeper or relationship gets, I’ll tend to notice little things about you, like the length or color of your eyelashes, the texture and flow of your hair, the shape and fullness of your lips… The body hair you have on your exposed skin, etc. And me being me, and therefore honest to a fault, the second I observe something and have a question, you get asked the question lol.

      I need to know everything. I want to know if it’s a family trait, or a racial trait… If it’s something that is valued our looked down on or not a factor in your culture. I really want to understand you and your experience as a whole person, not just those things we share in common, like our major in school or favorite books, but those things that make us different, and not just what they’re like from my perspective, but what they’re like from your perspective… Who knows, maybe in your culture, belly hair is sexy and means you’re loaded … or maybe in your culture large breasts are just hideous and THAT’S why you wear baggy shirts every day… Know what I mean?

      I’m not one for low brow humor in general, so to me race jokes just generally aren’t funny. The fact that they tend to perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes in the minds of the people who tell them and laugh at them isn’t cute either. And they’re like a gateway racism… First you’re joking, then just joking not really, then you’re saying it and meaning it

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      1. @Ruby…I guess I should say I don’t notice color after I get to a know a person because when I was about 17, I moved to a city called El Monte. El Monte is about 10 minutes from Pasadena (where the Rose parade happens every New Year’s day) and we were about 15-20 minutes from Los Angeles, depending on traffic. The area is predominantly Latino and Asian. The first people I met over here were all Latino. My friend turtle was Puerto Rican. His family was heavily mixed like my family, but I think there pot was more so then ours. My mom’s side is Black but there is some creole and other race’s mixed in there. My birth dad, he’s black but his family has Spanish, Native American and some Irish decent if I’m correct. The two together created me. I look black but depending on what area I’m in LA, and how I wear my hair, I can either be part Samoan or I could be Puerto Rican. When I use to wear my hair long, most people thought I was Samoan, now that’s it’s short, most think I’m either Dominican, Puerto Rican, or some race from Central America.

        I said all that to say, me and my friend turtle, were the same exact skin tone. However, me and him had different culture’s. We were both brown skin, both had tight curly hair but if brushed or comb, it could get a tad wavy, we were the same size…our facial features were a little different. Like I have more of a black nose but my lips are not as African, he didn’t have a African nose, his nose was a combination of European and African, I have almond shaped eyes, a small slant, and his eyes were more rounded, but they slanted towards the end. We really could’ve been brothers and we use to tell people, “Oh Dean, that’s my brother.” Oh turtle, that’s my brother.”

        Now when you looked at both of our mom’s, it was like how did that happen? His mom looks Spaniard. My mom looks like a light skin black woman. I guess that’s why after I get to know a person, I don’t see race; especially in that scenario…there’s some other things that factor in but this post is already longer than I intended. lol

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        1. Lol no worries, I love the long posts, especially the ones that share a story 😉 I hear you, I think in a scenario where someone has several ethnic backgrounds mixed together, it wouldn’t be entirely plausible to try and label them as only one… Especially if one of those races isn’t the majority by a landslide. Like, if you’re 1/4 of for different races, say, black, white, Mexican, and native American, then it’s sort of a dice roll which features you will receive, and therefore what others will look at you and guess your race to be.

          That being said, even if you don’t personally identify as a certain race, it won’t stop peopke identifying you as such and, in the case of racism, stereotyping you and treating you according to that stereotype. My post today that is coming out sort of had that moral of the story: in societies eyes, you are what you look like. In fact, in the case of racism, I have heard that, if you have one drop of the blood that they are racist against, even if you don’t look it, that’s what you are, and that’s their basis for hating you more and treating you like you’re inferior. Crazy, right?

          Culturally, is there something you identify more so with? Perhaps it would have to do with your upbringing and what cultural values and customs your mother raised you with, or what she most closely identified with?

          Either way though I assume that since you said “once you get to know someone you don’t see race” that initially you do. Do you ask people what their background is, knowing that your ethnic ancestry isnt so black and white?

          And if you don’t see race, what about cultural values and customs? I mean, you get close to someone and their Jewish, for example, they only eat kosher… do you acknowledge that in advance, or do you have to be reminded? Or like, with a white friend with pale skin, do you remind her more frequently than you would your other friends that it’s extra sunny and hot out, so she should take care to not get burned during your day trip to the beach? Just a couple minor examples, but you get the point. You know, a black girl+her hair+ rain= panic.

          There are racial differences that appear in day to day life. How do you deal with those when you don’t see race? I think part of seeing and acknowledging race is to acknowledge some of the unique challenges or circumstances that are common to those within their race, so that you can be inclusive by being cognizant and considerate of everyone’s needs and wants, not trying to make everyone got into the same generalized cookie cutter.

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  4. I liked this piece. Comprehensive, well thought out, I wanted to clap at the end. I read the article about the “Yoga Incident” and tried but couldn’t imagine what was really going on in that girl’s head even as she tried to explain it. I wanted so desperately to think that maybe she was just a little self centered, but couldn’t get there.

    And as far as the don’t see race thing, I find it insulting. With a mere phrase you discount all the reprehensible parts of history that got us here and all the current realities that exist in the world which still hinder so many because of the other people who DO see race.

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    1. @M,

      Wow, thank you so much! I put a lot of heart and soul into this one, so I am just tickled pink it has gotten such a great reception.

      You see, I too tried to put myself in her shoes and then twist and turn and manipulate the world in such a way that her thought process and her ultimate reaction was where I ended up… It was a no-go. But what’s worse, far worse in my opinion, is that she was so deluded and blinded to her own biases and implied racism that she felt justified.. No, compelled! To write that article like her delusions were in fact gospel.

      It’s incredible what people grow to believe over time, without realizing it. She really does see the world from the vantage point that “white is right, and the best, and everybody in the whole world thinks So, because they all know they are inferior and don’t belong in the high society that is whiteness”, so even when she spews this ethnocentric, egocentric crap and reads it back to herself, she really doesn’t see anything wrong with what she’s said. I bet she’s sitting at home devastated, scratching her head and wondering why everyone is so mad and why she’s so misunderstood. *sighs*

      “And as far as the don’t see race thing, I find it insulting. With a mere phrase you discount all the reprehensible parts of history that got us here and all the current realities that exist in the world which still hinder so many because of the other people who DO see race” … that is brilliance. Just sheer brilliance. Is it OK that I’m jealous you made my point better than I did? Lol

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  5. I’m an anesthesiologist. I work in the OR, and I see people from inside out. It’s a totally no-nonsense environment. I can say without a doubt that underneath it all, culture/race/ethnicity/what-have-you are meaningless: our only distinguishing feature is that of being human.

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    1. @ Helena Fortissima

      I agree 100%, we are all from the same species, and despite physiological surface differences, like eye, skin, and hair color, and psychological distances like personality and character, we are underneath it all the same. Why it is that people can use such minute, meaningless differences between culture and races to hate, put-down, write off and disassociate themselves from one another, I’ll never know.

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  6. Great post! I actually think I notice color more than others. I didn’t move to the states till I was 20 so I’m not used to the interracial culture and though I love it, it still stands out to me. I even feel that I treat people based on their race until I know them better and can give them a personalized treatment. For example, I always feel super comfortable with black and latino people. I can warm up within seconds. But with white and asian people I’m super polite at first till I know where the limits are… it’s a defense mechanism.

    I don’t know how people say they don’t see race, but like you said, it’s probably an attempt to get as far away from the term racist as possible. But in a way I can’t blame them, being accused of racism can come at any moment. A few years ago, even some of my own friends would say to me that I’m racist but they love me anyway…which to me is ridiculous. The reason for this came out after a conversation about dating preferences. I said I was attracted to white guys. When we spoke about asian guys, I said I could never see myself with an Asian boyfriend and shortly after that I got asked out by a black guy. I said no and got the racist stamp. I wonder if they even considered that maybe I just didn’t feel attracted to the guy, which was the first reason I said no. Now years has passed and I’m dating a black guy. He asked me for my number within the first 5 minutes when we met and I knew I liked him so I said yes. We’ve been happy for 3 years now and people think that I’ve changed even though that’s not the case at all. I would never turn down a guy I’m attracted to for the sake of his race…

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    1. @melody kia

      It probably is a defense mechanism, i think it’s an automatic response to ultimately feel a bond with some people over others… There’s actually a lot of research that has been done on things like trust that vs a lot, which I’ll be covering later in the month. But what makes us a higher evolved species is our cerebral cortex, which has the parts of our brain that allow us to reason, and to override animal instinct when it won’t serve us well, or will be counterproductive to our social growth or development.

      If you give yourself the time and the chance to really get to know and be close with people in the ethnic backgrounds you’re not as close to, you’ll start to see that that response will become more generalized to traits that have nothing to do with race, like personality.

      We can’t help who we are attracted to, and I think everyone has a type: sometimes that type has to do with what you’re physically attracted to, sometimes it’s IQ or interests, sometimes it’s a certain style or attitude. As long as your type had nothing to do with avoiding a certain race based on beliefs or stereotypes, I don’t see that as racist at all. I am generally attracted to dark-skinned black men with bald heads and that mustache/goatee look… Kinda like Tupac, but darker skinned. But I would do terrible, terrible things on command, in public places, to Eminem and Channing Tatum. Terrible, unspeakable, shaming things.

      Of course, there’s also the reverse, where people only date outside their race based on negative stereotypes within their race, or positive stereotypes within the race they are dating (such as Jewish prime have money, or black men are… Ummm… well-hung lol), which I think is equally terrible. We should be dating based on emotions, and judging people based on their character and on the way they treat us, and looking for someone based on what we need mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

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  7. I really liked your point. But I’m not sure about myself. Because I have seen people around me who frequently comment on my fairness, but honestly I had friends with all complexion which did not matter to me, and I never particularly noticed their color or weight. Yes, I do notice height of people ( because I’m not much tall haha), but if by this post you mean that there lies a racist in all of us, then I will disagree here. What matters to me is the nature of a human being. I judge people by there nature, not race.

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    1. @ princessblog24

      No, I didn’t mean in any level that within each one of us lies a racist. What I’m saying is that our physical attributes are an obvious thing, and are the first things that anybody can notice about us. And to pretend otherwise is ridiculous, in my opinion. Noticing race does not make someone a racist – but if you have to pretend everyone is exactly the same in order to treat them equally, isn’t there something wrong with that?

      The whole point is, I am proud of all of the things that make me me, my ethnic background included. And I would never, nor would I want anyone else telling me that they, want to pretend that me living in this melting pot culture means that my cultural heritage and background and history are no longer significant. I want you to notice my race: I just want you to think it’s a beautiful thing, and to not make any judgments about me, negative or positive, based on my race.

      I have friends, and family, from all races, and I am well aware of all of their backgrounds and traditions and beliefs, and I think it’s awesome to partake in so many cultures in such an intimate way. I made it a point not to brush it off, but to learn all about them, just as I learned all about me and shared it with them.

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  8. As you point out, of course we all see race. Unless of course you are literally blind and, even then, accents would sometimes give some clues even if you had no idea of skin colour. The question is not what you literally see, but what you figuratively see.

    Recognizing that there are physical and cultural differences is not bigotry. It’s seeing what palpably is. Thinking that those physical and or cultural differences make the other person somehow inferior is bigotry.

    Does one see a stereotype based on some preconceived, unsubstantiated notion? That’s bigotry, at least to some extent. Races and cultures are far from uniform. Individuals are individuals. That having been said, I suspect that most people, even when they adamantly deny it, rely on stereotypes to some extent—hopefully only a minor extent. It’s probably natural. I don’t have any background in psychology, so I may be totally out to lunch on this, but I think that most people tend to categorize people (and places, events and objects) because there isn’t enough time in the world to get to know individually and in intimate detail everyone you come in casual contact with. So I suspect that most of us, if only subconsciously, use rapid categorization as a short cut. The question is, how readily and quickly are we able to recognize that an individual does not fit the category traits that we, probably foolishly, hold in our head? The sooner the better.

    Some people say that the ideal we should shoot for is tolerance of differences. I know the people who couch it in those terms mean well, but I’ve always hated using the term tolerance in that context. The connotation of tolerance is, “well I’m not at all happy with it, but I’ll tolerate it.” To my mind, that’s not what we should be shooting for. I think “acceptance,” “embracing,” or possibly “celebrating,” would be a better word.

    “Celebrating” brings up another point. What if everybody truly didn’t see race, or culture, for that matter? What if, as a result, there was much more interracial, intercultural intercourse (yes, I mean sexual) to the point where race and culture were never a factor in any way in those decisions? I don’t think that would, overall, be a bad thing. In fact, I think that breaking down the barriers that still exist would be a good thing. However, I think it would have one lamentable consequence in the distant future. Eventually, after a number of generations (i.e., long after I’m dead), races and cultures would blend together into homogeneity. While we would probably have a lot less difficulty living together comfortably, I think the world would be a much more boring place without diversity.

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    1. @ Joel
      Actually yes, to navigate the world we have to place things in general categories and then stereotype them, otherwise we’d be in a constant state of confusion. We see something with 4 legs, a flat, wide surface and we see it as a table, and then our minds tell us the stereotype we have of tables, which is that they are for putting things your hold in your hands down on, like a glass of water. But we start off with Perhaps the idea that 4 legs and a surface is just to put things on in general (could be describing a chair or couch, too) which is why small toddlers try to sit on anything with 4 legs and a surface. Then of cider there are the concepts of animate (alive, like a dog) and inanimate, that you need to learn, so that your first instinct is not to sit on every animal we come across.

      But when it comes to races, and racism, we do put everyone in the general category of human. Then we get sub category if human by race, then by ethnic background, and yes, we do have to stereotype people to some degree. And often, we learn those stereotypes from our parents. When a child sees a dog for the first time, they have no inherent concept of friend or for. They look to their guardian for guidance. If mommy reacts with fear, baby will react with fear, and going forward, dogs will be scary. If mommy is happy and excited, baby will be too.

      Same goes with the races and cultures outside your own. If mommy/daddy treats them like they don’t exist at all and politely ignores them, you’ll learn that behavior for next time. If they think it’s wonderful and are politely inquisitive or as acknowledging, then next time you meet a new race, you will be too. Likewise, if every time a black male is coming down the street toward you, mommy reascts in an anxious way, and crosses the street, you’ll learn to be fearful and anxious around that race as well. So now, on that level, the reaction is very automatic, and you may not truly understand why you have that reaction, but your brain will fill in the gaps for you and find plausible explanations for your behavior.

      But, it can be changed. A bar tender I once knew was raised with rather racist parents in a small town that had only white people in it. When she came to the big city, in an attempt to price she wasn’t racist, she ignored her instincts that a black man was dangerous and was a that to her all well being, and ended up being assaulted. From that day forward for a long time, she generalized that man to the entire race, beat herself up for not believing her parents bigotry, and became a raging. She had still yet to actually meet or speak to a black person.

      When she started her bartending job, she kept her distance from any black people, only being friendly with the white patrons, and slightly wary of the other races. And then one day, she realized to herself, this one going black man had been coming in for quite a while, would have a few cigarettes and a couple beers while studying, was always polite, and tipped well. His friends, of all races, also seemed as pleasant. One day one it was slow, she decided to ask him what he was studying… Computer science?

      She said it was that one friendship that bloomed, that one relationship, and the ones she built through him, that had her finally seeing the error of her thoughts. What happened to get was terrible, but the perp could have been any race. There’s bad people in every culture, but to dismiss an entire race would be to be dismissing the larger majority of them, that had so much positivity to offer. She did a complete 180, and by the time I had met her I wouldn’t ever have guessed that at some point in get life she was a bigot or was raised by them. The reason I ever even knew her story is because we got pretty close, and after all, I was dating that wonderful man that changed her life.

      Oh, yeah, scientists estimate that eventually, we won’t have any pure races anymore….I don’t know if I believe that. But I agree, the world would be a much more boring place. We need to learn to balance equality with respect and appreciation of each others differences, knowing that race, religion, cultural values, do not make anyone superior or inferior, to anyone else

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      1. With your psych background, you’re way more qualified to speculate with some authority on this than I am, but it’s interesting to contemplate what would have happened if that bartender had been born to parents who were exceptionally liberal and who never made any race-based value judgements whatsoever, but the rest of her life unfolded as it did.

        She would then have grown up with more liberal values, but what would have happened when she was assaulted? Would she have still generalized that incident into a judgement of the assaulter’s entire race?

        Generalizations are probably never completely accurate, and often are wildly inaccurate (which is part of the point I’m clumsily trying to make), so I don’t know what would have happened in her specific case, but I suspect that there would be a tendency to unjustly generalize, at least to some extent, as part of the categorization shortcuts that we tend to take. (See how I used generalize in two senses: the generalization about what the “average” person would do versus the specifics of what she would do; and the issue of generalizing a specific incident (the assault) to an entire race).

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        1. Lol yes, I did totally notice the double usage of generalize… Not too shabby… I’ll make a psych master of you…I think it’s the kind of thing that’s catching… Like polio, but in a good way 😉

          I would suspect that, had she not had any preconceived biases against any race, she would have been like most women who are assaulted… Yes, once you’ve been the victim of a violent crime, you’re going to be wary and cautious of circumstances that would put you at risk of being attacked again.

          In her case, the attack happened on the subway downtown. So perhaps she would need to work through a fear of public transportation, or of crowded inner cities. The anxiety and fear can generalize (there’s that word again lol) in an extreme way, causing agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces), or could prevent her from being able to be in enclosed spaces with strangers, like elevators, or in crowds, on a busy street or at the mall.

          The interesting thing is that, what that fear and anxiety response attaches to could be just about anything that is even remotely related, as long as, in her mind, she sees it as a main factor in why the assault took place to begin with, and can rationalize that avoiding it would keep her safe.

          Of course, that could include a general fear of men. Or men who are dressed the way the attacker was, or wear the same cologne, or at a glance could look like him (which would then include race). But in a way, this is all far more healthy than the alternative, because the thought wouldn’t be “black people are monsters I need to stay away from” it’s more like “that guy is a monster and I need to stay away from guys like him” or “that particular situation is dangerous”. His face itself is Not a factor and so, day her attacker is a light skinned male with long braided hair, the fear and distrust won’t generalize over to dark skinned males with bald heads.

          But the most important factor is the fact that it’s easier to heal from this version. Having had many positive interactions witg, and having nothing but good preconceptions about, black people, having this one horrific one would scar. But, through therapy, she can rationalize through to the end where the odds are 10,000/1 that black guy will attack me.. Much better than the odds of me getting into a car accident… and in my lifetime less than 2%of my interactions with black people had been traumatizing… So the likelihood is, it was just that that guy was a douche.

          But in the other way, all she’s been raised on is horror stories, and the first interaction she had confirms all her parents bigotry… What experience does she have to fall back on personally that not all black men are rapists? And what reason does she have to want to go back out in the world and give em a second Chance? Thus far, the odds, so far as she had experienced and within her memory, are 150% terrible. And so, even when she finally has the experience of speaking to a black person and it’s a wonderful experience for her, now it’s 99% terrible, and so that one good black interaction is the exception, not the rule.

          So the moral of the story is, which I didn’t realize I could have said much more succinctly until that last sentence (lol) is that, it is far easier to recover and heal and move forward without fear and live a healthy open life when the positive is the rule, not the exception.

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  9. I’m white. My small daughter is half-black (or half-white), and we don’t see any race when we look at her. She has my facial features and her mother’s eyes. My accent, my inflection, and mostly my word choices, some from her mother. What is ridiculous about it?
    Among humans, race has no taxonomic significance. All living humans belong to the same species, Homo sapiens and subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens. I believe you should change the word “race” for descriptions less ambiguous and emotionally charged, such as populations, people, ethnic groups, or communities, depending on context.

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    1. Looking at your child, or your parents, is probably one of the only occasions in which I could see one literally not noticing race… But you can’t compare looking at your child to looking at a random person you just meet, or a new friend. It’s the same as when people who are born and raised in north America who have a Canadian accent, don’t hear that their parents, born in some other country, have an accent… Even though when a stranger speaks with an accent they can hear the event clearly and identify it.

      Now, I actually use the word race in purpose, and accurately, all while acknowledging that it is an extremely emotionally charged word. And just so we’re clear though, all the other words you’ve listed are also problematic, but I’ll highlight one as an example. But there is a reason for this. As I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, my background is Jamaican 100%. However I have white Jamaican, black jamaican, and carib-indian Jamaican. Three different visibly identifiable races all from the same ethnic background. But really at the end of the day, ethnic background isn’t the thing racist people use on sight to make a determination of whether I fall into the category of people they hate or not, right?

      No, they use the color of my skin, combined with my other physical attributes to judge me before they get within 50 feet of me. Seriously, what I’m saying is, to be at the other end of the spectrum (I.e. not racist) is not by denying what you can plainly see in front of your eyes… it’s that when you see those differences, as much as you’re aware they are there, they really don’t make a Damn difference to you one way or the other.

      But, as you mentioned your daughter is half black. Which means you’re aware her mother is black. Just as my white friend is aware her daughter is half black, because the man she created her with is black. But she’s also aware that based on her daughters skin tone and facial features, she will be identified as black, and that since her daughter shares none of her features, when the three of us go out on the town, if you didn’t know us you’d assume I was her daughters mother. But her son doesn’t look like his father is black at all, he is very very very pale, like glowing white.

      She loves them equally, but she can see them. And knowing how her daughter is perceived by society, and knowing those things that make her daughter essentially different from her, like hair texture (and therefore care), skin (scars distantly, and also responds better to different moisturizers), and stereotypes she will face that her mother didn’t, and so that she needs to be safeguarded against, are all very important as well.

      Knowing ethnicity and cultural practices will be important too, but in automatic day to day categorizations that everybody make in life to get through it (a psychological fact) nobody is breaking it down to anything beyond the general 4-5 racial categories. It’s only in a conversation trying to get to know someone that people begin to learn you ethnic history.

      Thank you for your reply, it made me stop and think about something other than this exam I’m studying for lol

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      1. The idea or notion that a certain race of people is better than the other defines the term ‘racism’. The fundamental changes in appearance of the individuals of a particular “race” are only due to geographical and environmental factors. Over the time, these traits are passed from one generation to another which makes these characteristics even more noticeable and peculiar. But in the whole description nowhere it is found that due to any of the cited reasons a particular ethnic group of people is better than others.

        Still, one cannot deny from the fact that racism does persist in the modern world. In the modern times, however, a lot has changed. Strong laws were made and implemented throughout the globe. The governments of America, Africa and Asian countries made deliberate efforts to abolish any kind of racial discrimination present in the society. The results are encouraging. The scenario has improved a lot. But in certain countries racism does exist in one form or the other, and although racism often continues to shatter and destroy lives, American remains burdened by a racial chasm. Racial discrimination is an ongoing human judgment that U.S. citizens can’t really stop.

        The governing bodies are not the only culprits. It is ‘the people’ who constitute the structure of any society. But the matter of concern is that most of the cases or daily life racist behavior goes unnoticed. Those who become victims of such behavior are terribly devastated and develop a feeling of fear and hatred towards the assailant and the society he represents. This leads to the vicious cycle of hatred and revenge.

        This vicious cycle must be broken somehow, and from my view the best tool is the scientific education.

        Even the most famous historians have proved scientifically that all the humans had a common descent. So, there is no point of treating any one with discrimination on the basis of physical traits. This is an insult to the humanity and our whole existence. All races are equal and all individuals deserve to be dealt with equality only.

        The vicious cycle must be broken, and that is the responsibility of all the “races” involved. Thanks for your answer.

        Note: I rather prefer you keep preparing your exam, than answering this response. You could do it any time afterwards 🙂

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        1. Actually, interestingly enough, which has been very clearly illustrated with some observational studies that have been conducted within recent times, like with the Galapagos finches, they’ve shown that the differences in traits that had evolved in the human species actually happened relatively quickly. The body doesn’t evolve over time to accommodate for climate and environmental changes.. Usually what happens is, there is some gene mutation that happens in a small subset of a population. That mutation ends up making them much more likely to survive and reproduce than their counterparts, and so that gene mutation is passed down through the generations, while those who do not have that mutation eventually die out.

          Now, that one gene only accounts for one aspect (with the finches, it was the size of their beaks) so complex adaptations happen one small detail at a time, but very rapidly, over the course of a few generations really. This is why humans have generally stayed the same over tens of thousands of years. And why it’s unlikely given our current advances in technology and medicine and lifestyle that any major changes are likely to occur, especially in developed countries.

          Of course if you take a look at my most recent post, you can see that some of our understanding as to how our why certain gene mutations stayed within certain areas may need to be revisited, based on the Melanesian tribe that was discovered… Here’s the link https://classicruby.com/2014/02/17/some-colours-were-not-made-for-hair-some-are-just-not-for-you/#more-3518 .

          OK sorry, that was the psych major in me. We can go back to social commentary now lol.

          I do have to disagree with you on a few points. My number one disagreement with what you’ve said is “Those who become victims [racism] are terribly devastated and develop a feeling of fear and hated towards the assailant and the society he represents”. The truth of the matter is, if even a fraction of the petiole who had experienced extreme racism directed towards them, who had people in authority and power exhibit such racism and prejudice against them, that they were afraid to blink, breathe, or move, ended feeling way you’ve described, you would not have a black wife, I would not have mostly half white cousins and a half white sister, and north America would be a very segregated, very hostile place.

          I would compare this to any situation in which one is abused. While you do have the rare person who ends up being filled with venomous hate, you have many more who end up wanting to inform the masses of either the racism that has taken place, or become activists for the cause of equality, but the far larger majority learns not to trust the perpetrator, hates the perpetrator and what he/stands for, but understands that their anger and fear and rage should be directed toward that individual, not to some population that they may be a part of.

          Most people I know who are part of a minority group, or who are women, have learned to live by the saying “success is the best revenge”.

          Also, while many governments and police departments pay lip service to discrimination laws, the sad fact is that, much like rape charges – especially twenty years ago, often either the victim is put on trial or there just isn’t enough “evidence” or people are accused of “crying racism” because the racial slurs and threats of lynching were not explicitly stated. Until the government and other levels of authority fix that issue, I don’t see implicit racism ever getting better.

          Well, there’s that, and I agree with you as well on the fact that the key will largely be education. The problem is, the education system doesn’t do it, and the general population is largely misinformed on exactly what constitutes accurate information, rather than emotional conjecture. This month, I have been attempting to cover popular black social issues and add in some of the scientific and psychological, as well as historically accurate, information to see if I could give a little more equity and balance to some of these subjects. If you have the chance, you should check out all of my posts in February, there’s a lot of info… And still more to come!

          You’ll see a common theme and I have is this: we are not all the same, and I would be rather upset if anyone chose to ignore my differences. However, those surface differences should be a thing of beauty. People are not all beautiful and equal because they are all the same, or despite their differences. People are all equal and beautiful, differences included, because every little detail is what makes them special and unique.

          Meh. I’m studying. Breaks are allowed!!! Lol and what a lovely break this discussion has become 😉

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  10. A fantastic piece Classic Ruby. You took words right out of my mouth. You too? I also wanted railway tracks and glasses. Scary spice’s hair. It’s true. Hahaha. Not all of the people on planet earth eat potatoes and pasta at home. This is no reason to panic. 🙂

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    1. Lol thank you!!!! Finally, someone else is willing to admit to wanting braces and glasses man!! And the scary spice hair?? Come on, I would have been the coolest kid ever with all three!! Lol wanted braces so bad I used to straighten out paper clips curve them around my teeth so from far away it looked like braces lol. Oh my, I had no idea how lucky I was to have no eyesight/tooth issues back then! And how lucky my parents wallets were either :-p

      Thank you very much for swinging by and reading my follow up post. She had dinner such a good job, I just couldn’t keep my tangent to myself… I’ve been chuckling to myself about the potatoes and pasta and panic lines for the past few minutes! Golden! Ohhhhhh I see, that’s why you’re fantastic with words… You have a blog… *Pulls up clever wordsmiths blog prior to pressing reply*

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