Example Of Self Reflection On Racism And Its Oppression Essay
"The sweetest sound to anyone's ears is the sounds of his own name" Robert C. Lee
People call us by name. In our everyday life we are firstly identified by the name that we bear. We love it when people call us with that name. However, when that name called on an individual gives a negative connotation, that name will not produce joy but rather it will bring a stigma to that person which his system will not accept. Such is in the case of racism.
The Anti-Defamation League defines racism as “the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another”. For the past 400 years the United States of American has been bringing this stigma that has affected the people of color. Race according to Evans, et.al (2010) is unstable and decentered”. It means that he belongs to a community which identifies his individualism or social identity. Racism exists to this day because society carries on that stigma and constructed thoughts. Parents may not be aware that it can cause confusion in his child when he says, “you cannot play with the kid next door because his skin color is different”. The child wanting to be obedient can be puzzled why his playmate with dark skin cannot be his friend. Is it a disease having a colored skin? Society perpetuates this situation of racism by creating biases in the innocent minds of children. Stereotyping is one dangerous practice. This means constantly displaying negative comments about the colored people. As often as it is heard by the individual or child, the child tends to form ideas on his own that being with colored people is not acceptable. He begins to think differently because negative thoughts have been always fed to his mind. Stereotyping can come from televisions, radios, internet, books, politics and even music. The result of this stereotyping in the media multiplies the idea of what racism is. In some movies, it shows violence in certain groups of black teenagers or Latinos. This stereotyping, presents a type of a character that is assumed in a particular race or group. In many movies, the Latinos are depicted as gangsters or trouble makers or a group akin to a mafia. Upon seeing these movies, people begin to believe these unfamiliar traits to be inherent in these black people or Latinos. It can cause fear among others who are not familiar with these races. When children and adults are surrounded by other races, the children can learn that such is not true. This in turn will counterbalance the misinformation attained from these movies. In so doing, the child learns to live that there is nothing wrong to be with colored people or to be an Afro-American, Asian, or Latino. Another observation that causes confusion about the race is our media advertising. Advertisements showing mixed races have caused a frown on others. Buyers of goods are all coming from different races. So, why is it unacceptable to see mixed races in an advertisement? Our personally mediated racism is how we perceive them either intentionally or unintentionally, (Jones, 2000 p.9). Another comment that I would like to present is about the celebration of Black History Month. This segregates the Afro-American from the rest of the Americans in the society. We are trying to interconnect everyone from different cultures, beliefs and values. I prefer everyone just to be called the “American”. There is no black, red, white, brown, but just the Americans with diverse cultural patterns, beliefs and values. Everyone is beautiful in his how right regardless of the color of his skin. The color of his skin or ethnicity does not determine the color of his heart. As soon as we learn to accept each other’s uniqueness, there is no need to capitalize the Black Art movement or the Latino, rather our acceptance to realities in our society breaks barriers, promotes understanding and strengthen the unity of the Americans as they pursue their American dreams. James Baldwin, the late Africo-American novelist commented, “unless you live in a culture that recognizes such difference as significant, they are socially irrelevant and therefore do not exist. He further explained in this manner which clearly defines his train of thought. “A black woman in Africa, therefore, who has not experienced white racism, does not think of herself as black or experience herself as black, nor do the people around her. She believes that she is an African woman but not categorized as a black woman” (Johnson, 2005, p.15). This is a pure example of stereotyping. With the example above we see that it gives a different connotation when that woman is called a black woman, rather than an African woman. This brings us to talk about concepts on social diversity. Marianne Adams states that “social diversity refers to social differences or social inequality. It is used to identify groups in advantaged or disadvantaged social locations or positions. These social groups have been used to perpetuate the advantages of privileged groups relative to the disadvantages of marginal groups” (p.15). Furthermore, Johnson explains, “social group differences are socially constructed in specific historical situation in which their social meanings justify their inequality and oppression” (p. 3). So, Johnson is stating that our experiences in our personal and social life is in itself a social creation in as much as the social differences with significance. Johnson and Harro focus on the study of individual level of privileges and disadvantages. They believe that our interactions with bigger institutions such as our extended families, neighbors, schools, including media can reinforce our experiences of privilege or disadvantaged which brings in us societal and cultural messages.
Man’s Complex Identity
Man is a product of his external and internal environment. His formative years start within his family, his circle of friends and his neighbors. In his early childhood, he copies his parents’ values, thoughts and language as well. When he goes to school, his new learning widens his concept of the world and the people he deals with. He is a showcase of the environment where he belongs. The famous Mexican proverb says, “tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”. In other words, man is complex and so is his identity. He may belong to a social identity group and yet he continues to be constantly joining another group. Such is the case of people from mixed races. After learning all about racism I began to evaluate myself.
Who Am I
I belong to the white race. I have been raised in an affluent community surrounded by white people. I have ‘white privileges’ and had a ‘white bread’ youth. I was not mindful of the effects of racism on the colored people. I was color blind. But now that I understand its implications, I want to be able to reach out to them and change my perceptions. In doing this, I am making an evaluation of all factors that will bring in me a social change. I have formulated in my thoughts that the color of the skin is not what makes a person. These beliefs, behaviors become important to me because it speaks of the history of these people. I can learn their culture to understand them better. As a person belonging to the white race, I never realized how privileged I was. I am put to shame knowing all the privileges I possess which the other ladies of color did not have. I did not have to work for this privilege to earn it. It was intrinsic in my existence by the time I was born. My race created a shield of shadow that envelops me and follows wherever I go. I call this the White Race Supremacy. I never toiled to earn it. My race has provided me an “imaginary key” where I can go and enter where others of color cannot. Peggie McIntosh wrote in her article, “I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.” As I listed some of my privileges, I also noticed that I can go to court without fear of being unequally treated. My race, helps me vindicate my case. But it is not always the same with people with colored skin. Many colored people do not get justice for cases in court due to racism. Such as in the case of George Zimmerman's trial as written by Rinku Sen published in Colorlines magazine dated July 31, 2013. The writer stated the “complicated relationship between explicit racism, unconscious bias, policy making and culture” (Sen (2013). He further mentioned that our implicit biases exist and we are unaware of our prejudices. I feel guilty for all the biases that the people of color have undergone. I was awakened from my slumber of indifference of which I was adamant to my environment. Thus, I commit to renew my thinking, a paradigm shift for my well being. I will endeavor to execute social changes in me. For me to execute social change in me, I commit to consistently focus on my knowledge of these people and be determined to consistently study their behaviors for me to able to understand them and avoid all forms of conflicts, struggles or negative thoughts about them. My self-reflection allows me to erase all forms of misconception about colored people because it will hinder my peaceful means to social change. Lastly, I will do my best to collaborate and be interconnected to the colored race and share my visions and ideas. I will be supportive to my colored friends in order to help attain a peaceful society, breaking barriers with a willing heart to understand. This I do as my own simple means to amend the faults of my forefathers. I will cease to believe that people of color are different from me. They too have a heart. If we open our minds and accept diversity of our cultures, erase all forms of biases, implicit or explicit, and change our mindset into believing that there is no colored American but he is called only as American with American dreams to pursue.
In order for us to slowly eradicate racism, we have to change our curriculum in schools. We have to explicitly explain to children in the earlier grades that difference in culture and skin color is not a deceased. Our society has created concepts about racism. It is payback time. We have to slowly undo what we illicitly created. We should be proud that our diverse cultural patterns and beliefs make us flexible and adjustable, making us better individuals in the world.
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