Well good morning. I saw this tag right in front my favorite cafe this morning.
Two hesitations as I thought about this post:
ONE: Not that any of you would, but just in case, this post is no way gives anyone permission use the pejorative, “chinaman” because “your blog friend” did.
TWO: I hesitated using this with the strong language, but this is not like promoting some yahoo who is trying to make money, and my guess is that there are not too many kids reading this blog.
Of course this sent me into a rantish thought storm in my own head. I was not surprised to see this in uber-cool San Francisco, but each time I do experience some kind race-based negativity, I am reminded that we all need to discern how we feel about racism and what we will do to combat it. So here are some of my thoughts this day on Racism.
Realities of Racism . . .
Racism has diversified
Some believe that just because physical/visible acts of racism are not as prevalent as they used to be that means racism is going away. Yeah growing away to hide . . . in institutions, cultural apathy, economic development, etc. One COULD argue that the insidious nature of institutional racism does more inherent damage than when people were just racist out in the open. At least you knew where people stood.
Racism will not go away
I am under no delusions that racism will go away in anyone’s life time. Humanity is just too limited and to prone to act out of self-preservation fear. Still that does not mean I do not keep working, because if for no other reason, we fight racism so it doesn’t get worse.
Racism must be challenged with a spirit of solidarity
Seems kind of trite, but we know that the fight against racism is not just a brown issue. In fact, I believe in a very general sense it is a White issue. In my worst moments, I scream – in my head – at my white brothers and sisters, “It is not my job to teach white people how NOT to be racist!” And yes, anyone can be racist depending on the context, but overall even though the numbers are shifting, issues of cultural white privilege are still the norm. For that reason, racism must be fought by all people and for all people. Asian Americans must speak up for African Americans, Latino Americans for Asian Americans and White people for . . .
I then think to myself, how would/do I react to my children who are of a brown hue.
Choice A // Ignore it // “Oh it’s nothing, lets go . . .”
It would be all too easy to just ignore instances of racism. Basically if you go this route it is like saying, if we do not acknowledge something it will go away or never even existed in the first place. The big danger of this choice is that if I pretend that that racism does not exist my girls may walk into situations where more sinister acts of racism will sneak up on them, physical, economic, etc.
Choice B // Dismiss it // “Those are just stupid people.”
This seems like a good choice, but again a couple of dangers. One, the only people who can be racist are other people, when we all hold some remnants of racism. And, two, only stupid people are racist . . . and while we might believe a lack of education or exposure may be at the root, the sustaining of institutional racism is upheld by many a smart people.
Choice C // Explain it // “How do you think this makes other feel? Why do you think someone might say something like this?”
As developmentally appropriate, I talk about all sides of prejudice. If my kids saw this – and they both can read – I would have to be sure they understand that this is not appropriate behavior. But then, we might talk about why some people might not like others: history, economic, cultural . . . and then what folks do with that anger or frustration. And if at some point, we talk about how we all carry some kind of prejudice and that we have to be careful not to express them with hurtful actions of words.
Please please for the love of God go with Choice “C”