I grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri, San Francisco, and Shawnee, Kansas. These three places are drastically different from one another for several reasons. Besides having superior barbecue, in Kansas and Missouri my neighborhoods were almost entirely made up of Caucasian people. I can count on one hand the number of black students that were in my honors high school classes in Kansas. Conversely, while living in San Francisco my best friends were Filipino-American, Japanese-American, African-American and Arab-American.
Ferguson is a short 3-hour drive from my home in Kansas City. I recently moved to Taiwan and even though I am thousands of miles away I can still feel the tension.
I have a friend whose father is white and has worked in the police force in STL for decades; he feels that white police officers have been judged too harshly. I have several friends from college who are black and are so frustrated at the string of shootings of young black men. My newsfeed read like a furious debate for the longest time; I saw a lot of my black college friends posting rightfully frustrated statuses. I also saw a handful of white acquaintances make distasteful comments at times, but what struck me weren’t those distasteful or frustrated comments. What struck me was the lack of commentary from people who don’t identify as black. I only vividly remember one white person posting one article throughout the whole discussion..
I was sitting in a “State of Race” talk a few years ago at Emory University and the speaker essentially nailed a huge race issue on the head: people who aren’t Black/Latino/Asian/Arab don’t consider race to be an issue, and don’t talk about it. However, this lack of discussion actually further perpetuates racism.
The speaker explained how a lot of people say that talking about racism perpetuates it. He had a brilliant response to that notion; “If this argument holds true then why are we talking about poverty. We should stop talking about poverty, then it will just go away.”
Clearly this argument doesn’t hold up. Like poverty, race issues need to be discussed.
I recently read an article about how to raise racially conscious children. I was so moved by the article that I sent it to my parents, thanking them for their efforts while raising my siblings and me. One of the things it stressed was talking about race with people in your life, and especially those you have influence over.
So that is why I am doing this. I don’t feel like there are enough people in some of my social circles talking about race, privilege, and their impacts on society, even in lieu of Ferguson.
This is a way for me to learn, to engage in discussion, and to work on myself intellectually. I plan to discuss a topic regarding race, race relations, or privilege and hopefully learn from it. I want paradigm shifts, I want to be more literate on this subject, and I want you to join me.
I understand that these are highly sensitive topics, and I want to encourage anyone reading this to engage, but to do so while watching one’s words. I understand that a lot of things that have to do with racism aren’t very nice. Bringing up these issues isn’t nice, but it is necessary.
I named this “Diving In” because I don’t really know what I’m doing. I did not study sociology, or anything that had to do with race relations in the U.S. but I want to grow! I want to learn about this, and I want to share as I learn.
Swim with me?