In dating myself and spending so much time with myself, I’ve gotten to learn a lot about me. With all the media coverage and blog posts surrounding the events in South Carolina, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own racism.
Here are a few examples of my own racism on a daily basis.
- I try to always lock my doors right when I get in my car to avoid locking them later if I drive past a black person because it disgusts me that I do that, and to avoid feeling racist I do it before I get the chance to see a black person, and then it seems like I just always lock my doors for my own safety as a single female driving alone.
- Yesterday, I got gas and ended up in a neighborhood where I was the only white person. I felt very uncomfortable and unsafe and embarrassed that I felt that way. I felt ashamed of my own racism and judgments and reflected on what it would feel like if everywhere I went I was in the minority and did not feel safe, and then I felt very angry and sad for black people.
- Being attracted or not attracted to black men. Either way, I feel racist. If I’m attracted, I think, “Maybe I’m trying to rebel against my Jewish roots and that my grandfather, who is a Holocaust survivor, would not be happy if I brought home a black man.” So, maybe I’m trying to protest or show my grandpa his own hypocrisy, but then again I may just be attracted to a black man without having all these strings attached… If I’m not attracted to a black man, I feel I’m being racist against black people, which I know is silly as well, because it’s not as if I’m attracted to every white man I see. The idea that my being attracted or not attracted to a black man makes me racist really angers me, because if I thought a girl was attractive that would not make me a lesbian, and if I thought a white guy wasn’t attractive because he was heavy or had a personality trait I didn’t like, I wouldn’t necessarily be prejudiced against heavyset people or people with a certain characteristic trait.
- Protests outside the jail across the street where I work are usually mostly black people and the protests’ cause is unclear. The protesters ask people to “Honk for help.” Yesterday, there were young black children holding signs and shouting “Honk for help.” From what I’ve read and seen, the protesters are protesting jails and not suggesting any alternatives or solutions. Their argument is that people rot in jail cells; I agree with that, but I don’t agree that jails should be gotten rid of all together, necessarily, and I’m unsure if that is what these protesters believe either. But I feel judgmental and racist when I think how ineffective and sad these protests are. From what I’ve seen in the three months I’ve been here is the protests usually gather at most 20-35 people and yesterday, I believe there were 10 or less people. I think this upsets me because this makes stereotypes about black people that are constructed and perpetuated by our society and media seem true, which leads to item number 5 on my list.
- Ghetto rig- I used this word the other day to describe a problem that was not fixed properly and later learned how racist it was. I now much better understand its origin and the deeper meaning it can have in the south and feel awful that I used this term. This term has evolved from the phrase a “nigger rig,” which was a phrase used in the south when blacks were enslaved. The term “ghetto” or “ghetto rig” is used in our society a lot to describe something broken or cheap- like if someone’s cell phone breaks and has a large crack down the middle- “that’s so ghetto.” If someone still uses their 90s boombox, “that’s so ghetto.” These phrases have been adopted and evolved a bit over time, but when you think about their roots and where they come from, it’s just another way we, as a society, keep shaming and putting down black people’s abilities and rights. I would even venture to say that these negative stereotypes of black people are perpetuated when both black and white people use terminology that puts black people down or makes black people look unfavorable. It made me think about how people have adopted the word gay to describe anything “lame, stupid, etc.” and often, the people saying “that’s so gay” don’t have anything against gay people or fully understand the implications of saying “that’s so gay” about something they don’t like, disagree with, or think is stupid have towards gay peopl
- Racism is contagious- I made a new friend since I moved here who was brought up that she cannot date black men. This really angers me and makes stereotypes about people from the south seem true- they are racist and uneducated, which is not true of everyone in the south just like not all black men commit crimes and end up in jail or not all black men don’t commit crimes and still end up in jail. My friend is racist and it’s not her fault, in my opinion. It’s how she was raised. How she chooses to live now, I do believe, is up to her though. Sometimes, I feel racist by association, but I don’t hold the same beliefs she does, and even though I was raised to marry within my own faith, I know that if I chose to marry a non-jew or a black person, I would not be disowned. I’d like to believe that even if I knew I would be disowned, I would still follow my heart and not allow what my family members dictated to me as right and wrong to necessarily always reign true for me too.
I’m not writing this post for sympathy or so people feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for me, and I’m not looking for a pat on the back of “there there, it’s gonna be okay, Taylor” or “you’re so brave for writing this.” I’m writing it to expose my own inner dialogues, struggles with racism, and the affects white supremacy has had on me as a white person. I’m very frustrated and am writing this to expose myself and encourage others to maybe do the same or reflect on their own behaviors and thoughts around race. I agree with what a lot of the media has said or alluded to, which is something has to be changed and racism is very ingrained in our society, so I’m doing the one thing I know how to do, which is write and share my feelings.