Even supposedly "progressive" people, writing a story about a teacher in a low-income neighborhood who ends up with an unplanned pregnancy at about the same time as one of her students, whether the movie-maker's did it on purpose or not, the teacher asked the girl what she was going to do about her baby (if she knew all her "options"), but no one asked the white teacher what she was going to do with her unplanned pregnancy.
Hmm, so if a black girls gets pregnant, we assume she should at least be willing to abort it (I mean that was the initial purpose of Planned Parenthood after all) but a white woman should not have that same assumption? When the girl turned it around on her and asked the same question, she seemed almost surprised.
Or, an another less serious topic, my husband wanted to go for a run, and I needed to get out of the house, so my oldest son rode his bike next to his dad while he ran, while I followed (walking) with the 3 year old in the stroller. Eventually, it looked like just me walking along a busy road, with a 3 year old in a beat up old fold and go stroller. However, I can almost guarantee that 80%+ of people driving by assumed I was out for exercise (even sans jogging stroller or workout clothes) whereas, in a different neighborhood, a different colored woman my age with young kids, would be assumed to be just not having access to a car.
Racism does go both ways, I have experienced some reverse racism. Some was funny (you must be a debt collector to be knocking on doors in this neighborhood) and some was not so funny (girl, you so white you look dead). But the point is, that we all have at least a little bit of racism in our hearts, minds, and actions.
So, what do we do about this?
- Acknowledge. Admit to yourself that you are capable of racism. Don't say that you don't see color, because you do. This will cause you to be more aware of those supposedly minor thoughts or reactions you may be making subconsciously.
- Act, don't react. When something happens around you that seems a bit racist, act on the side of right, without reacting. Let your friends and family (I know that one is hard) know that you don't stand for even subtle forms of racism. Even if that's what you were thinking yourself it's not an appropriate way of thinking and everyone needs to change their thoughts. Don't react in a negative or harsh manner, just stand up on the side of justice and peace.
- Be Aware. If you are aware of your own capabilities, you will be more likely to handle situations appropriately. If your problem is people in turbans, visit an area where more of them live and go to the specialty restaurants, marketplaces, and libraries to learn more about their culture. Talk to someone at the park who is a different color than you (if there isn't anyone of a different color, find a different park, or go at a different time of day). If someone needs help, help them regardless of color (or don't help them regardless of color, if you feel they are trying to take advantage of people - I had a white man accost my family for gas money in the Kroger parking lot, and I almost called the cops on him before he drove off).
Hopefully, if we all look at changing our thoughts and actions, we can start to make a real difference in this problem. It's not a "them" problem, it's an "us" problem, and we need to work together to fix it. I know that a lot of people feel the problem should be fixed already, but we have a much longer history of racism in this country than we do of anti-racism. The civil rights movement only started when my parents were children, so these deep cultural issues won't be resolved overnight. There is a history of hundreds of years of pain and shame regarding race in our country, so really, do you have the right to stand by and stay silent any longer?