Why is there such anger, defensiveness and aversion to speaking about race and the lack of fair balance in our society as a result of racism to certain members of our society? Why is it so difficult to speak with them about these issues when others see it so clearly? Your race can determine where you live, what you do for work, what car you drive and sometimes if you live or die.. There is no doubt that perspective is the most important factor. What perspective did you grow up with? What perspective do you live with now? Have you ever had to navigate the things that minorities in this country have to navigate often as a matter of life and death?
I have had occasion to speak with white colleagues and friends about racial issues in this country. I tend to be a bit of a stubborn type believing that I can provide the majority with minority perspective if they would just hear it out. And on almost as many occasions, I have been iced out, drowned out, cried out or just plain put out. Most simply did not want to hear it and frankly were not prepared for the feeling it gave them deep down inside. Reason went out the door and emotion took over. This reaction is not intentional. The feeling inside is not controllable. It is the result of a perspective minorities have a difficult time understanding because their race has been front and center in their lives since birth. How can they possibly understand the perspective of someone who has not had to think about their race for the majority of their lives? Professor of communications Judith Martin described it this way:
"As in other Western nations, white children born in the United States inherit the moral predicament of living in a white supremacist society. Raised to experience their racially based advantages as fair and normal, white children receive little if any instruction regarding the predicament they face. let alone any guidance in how to resolve it. Therefore, they experience or learn about racial tension without understanding Euro-American' historical responsibility for it and knowing virtually nothing about their contemporary rolls in perpetuating it." Prof. Judith Martin
This is a story from a Facebook user referring to an experience she had at a high end store with a rear end of a customer, take a look.
I was in a high-end store yesterday, and picked up several ramekins and other home wares that were on a serious sale. Like 90% off sale. This story isn't really about ramekins, but I will get to why the ramekins are of GREAT pertinence later. As I was in line, the lady behind me complimented my hair, and attempted to strike up a conversation about the "rioting" happening in uptown. I thanked her for the compliment, but hesitated any further banter with her because I DID NOT want an isolated incident to support any perpetuated beliefs about people that look like me. I let her slide with a "It looks so soft and shiny, not coarse at all..." comment -__- I kindly stated that was a misconception most people have about "black hair" and continued to "fake examine" my items. She went on... "Oh I just love "black hair!" I would love to have some. I would be so happy if my hair would do that." Again, I swallowed the lump in my throat, smiled at her, and said "Well, you can always get extensions! Then you too can have "black hair." I turned around swiftly, and my eyes could SERIOUSLY not roll any further in the back of my head. Why me, Lord? Why? I prayed that was the end of her attempts to engage. And it was...until she inquired about some of the items I was purchasing. "Are those ramekins? How great are those colors! I didn't see those back there." She went on, and asked me how much they were. This time, I fully engaged with her. Sure!