This was a short reflection that I wrote for one of my college assignments.
I was moved by what my professor said in class about how if White people would claim their ethnic backgrounds, and admitted to themselves that they have an advantage in society just because they were born with white skin. They need to stand up for their fellow man and demand equal rights and demand equal pay for their women and for all people of all shades and colors. I feel that there are too many white people that are oblivious to the fact that black people are still experiencing racism and discrimination in America today. White people don’t believe that black folks are experiencing discrimination in the work place, and that there are too many situations where black people are not getting hired for a job just because of the color of their skin. White people are too quick to assume that there must be a reason why they weren’t hired, maybe it’s a lack of skills, or lack of work ethics, but there has to be some kind of reason.
I have read in my developmental psychology book last semester that African Americans and Latinos are discriminated against in the public school system, and that they are punished unevenly and more often than their white counterparts. My textbook also said that African Americans are discriminated against more often by the police, and that they are punished by the law at a higher rate than their white counterparts. This does not mean that African Americans break the rules and the law at a higher rate, but that they are just being punished more often for the same offense. Just because comedian Chris Rock isn’t shedding light on the injustices of our American law enforcement during his shows anymore doesn’t mean that social profiling isn’t still happening. (I have since done much research on these topics, and will post this information soon).
I just finished reading a book written by Dr. Beverly Tatum titled “Why are all of the Black Kids sitting together in the Cafeteria?” She has taught me so much about the state of racism and race relations in America today. She said the same thing as my professor that white people need to claim their ethnic backgrounds, and that it is one important step in the fight to interrupt the cycle of racism. African Americans are forced to claim their racial identity, because of the simple fact that they are black is thrown into their faces on a daily basis. From young children asking why their skin is brown to being racially profiled by the store employee in fear that they are going to shoplift. European Americans don’t have to think about their race in terms of identity, because it’s not a burden on them for any reason. College textbooks, magazine advertisements, movies, and television all project familiar faces, and so nothing seems out of place. Years ago my ex-husband once said to me as I was watching the BET channel: “Why do black people have to have their own channel?” I responded with: “Because the other 500 channels are White Entertainment Television (WET).” What I wished I would have added was that Black people need to have positive role models being projected in the media too, and because they aren’t getting that from the white world around them that they need to have channels like BET.
I thought that I was doing a good job raising my children to be color blind until last year when I realized the error of my ways when one day I was watching the movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and my youngest exclaimed: “That’s racist!” I realized that children these days are afraid to talk about race, and it’s not just children but adults too. Everyone is afraid that if they bring attention to race that someone might think that they are racist, so no one dares to talk about it. This is when I realized that I am going to have to start talking about race inside my home. One evening I gave my two sons the option of going to bed or staying up late to watch BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards Ceremony. They chose to watch it with me, they may have complained a little bit, but they still chose to watch it in the end. They learned a few valuable cultural lessons that night such as Black people have a variety of different skin tones and that Black hair has special care needs. Most importantly their eyes were opened to a whole new world that they would never have been exposed to otherwise. Another time I looked up African American Inventions, and educated my children about the cool information that I found. I even let my youngest read this paper, because he loves to learn about what I am doing in my college classes.
I am doing what I can to interrupt the cycle of racism within my own family, and I may not be doing the most effective job right now, but I learn new things every day and I share them with my children. I can only hope and believe that my children will be better off because of what I am sharing with them, and even if I don’t have all of the answers or even know which questions to ask. I know that my passion might be overwhelming for some people, but I am not going to stop trying or stop learning everything that I can. Every day is a new day to get someone thinking about something that they never thought of before, and so when I have something new that I have learned outside the classroom I love the opportunities that I have to share these new thoughts inside my classrooms. Even if I only reach one person then I feel that I am successful.