Living in Colored America
Posted May 21, 2010on:
Lila: I just read this on CNN. I know the first time an experiment like this was done on kids was a long time ago. Maybe 3 or 4 decades ago. You would think things have changed, but obviously it hasn’t.
CNN article: Kids’ test answers on race brings mother to tears
Beatrice: I don’t know what to say about this. I really hate these type of topics and really have to ask what purpose does this type of survey serve, other than create more anger. I also think it is ridiculous that they show the white girl answering the questions, rather than several different ethnic groups, just to provoke a response. Why show the children on camera at all? As to your question, do you really think things have changed? I do and I don’t, and media promoting these sort of experiments do not make things better. It is our own individual responsibility as parents and human beings to promote what is right and as parents we are to teach love amongst human beings which shows no bias.
L: You are right. It is up to the individual parent to teach their children about differences and races. However, the mother even admitted to the problem of exposure. They may be living in an area that is predominantly white and the little girl does not really have friends of other races. It happens.
I don’t think this kind of reporting is meant to elicit anger out of people. I think it is a matter of letting the truth be known. Race is still a huge issue in America. Look at what is going on in Arizona. Look at the epitaphs that are being spewed at the Tea Party rallies. This kind of reporting is meant to say, “Let’s take a step back and look at ourselves.” We do not knowingly spread these kind of feelings.
I will be the first to admit this, I think my son is considered more beautiful on my side of the family because he is lighter skin than his cousins. My brother says it all the time when he looks at Thomas, “Wow, he is so white. So beautiful.” I am completely cognizant of this and I will teach my son to embrace all the differences the world has to offer.
We went to a birthday party this past weekend and almost all the kids there were mixed. It was refreshing and really neat to look at all the beautiful children. We are going to another party at the end of the month. We know at that party there will be mostly White children, who are equally as beautiful. The first child will grow up surrounded by cultures, but let’s not assume he will not grow up and be somewhat biased about the color of other people’s skin.
This reporting, to me, shows that there is a lot of work I have to do.
B: I guess it is weird to me that you think about the different cultures that will be present at a birthday party. I don’t give it two thoughts, never ever crosses my mind. I was not raised to ever think of it as being an issue. We lived next door to an African-American family, a Hispanic family across the street, and my own family which are White have married into all colors of our human rainbow. I never once thought about race until I became an adult and dated a Black man who started telling me about our differences. I choose to raise my children as my parents raised us.
L: But it is something you should think about. It is something that is there and people, like the poor lady in video, never stop to think about it and is shocked when her daughter answers the way she does. One of the biggest things that I have learned growing up and being different is you can immerse yourself in the culture, but if you don’t recognize the fact that you are not quite like everyone else, you unintentionally perpetuate the problem. Recognizing the differences allow you to embrace it and learn from it. It’s like you are sitting there eating an apple and someone hands you an orange. You know the fruits are not the same, but you eat it anyway. How will you share the pleasure of eating an apple and an orange if you don’t admit that they are different fruits? Recognizing differences is not a bad thing. It is a starting ground.
B: I do recognize differences, and having gone to most countries of this world has taught me the big differences and I appreciate the beauties of it all. What I am saying is it is not something I think about or see when discussing the color of one’s skin. Appreciating each others cultures is quite different from wondering what color of the human spectrum is going to be in front of me from day to day or function I go to.
L: I guess it’s different for me because no matter what room I walk in, I am identified by my skin color. You learn to always recognize that first.
B: And that sucks!
L: Not really. People don’t overtly judge me maliciously, but there are a lot of people who feel like an outsider who are not as easily accepted.
B: I guess one has to ask the question, how do you know you are being judged by your ethnicity? I guess the comment “and that sucks” comes from my wondering how you know this is how you are being identified by your skin color and what makes you assume they being people are judging you by your skin color. I walk into a room and get all sorts of looks, and I don’t wonder if it is because I am a blue-eyed blonde. I just never understand this type of thinking. You said you learned to always recognize that first, and how did you learn this?
L: I guess you never questioned it because you are most likely not the only blonde haired, blue-eyed person in the room. And I guess you’ll never really understand it because you are part of the majority. If you ask any person of color about this, they will say, “Yeah it happens a lot.” I know I am being judged by the color of my skin because without fail, someone will ask me where I am from. Of course I always respond, “California” because I cannot assume they are questioning my ethnic background. This is when they go back and embarrassingly rephrase the question to mean my ethnicity. And then they’ll say something like, “Wow, you don’t even have an accent.” That last part use to bug me so much because why would they assume that I had an accent when I was raised and educated by the American educational system. If I were raised in England, wouldn’t expect me to speak like the Brits? It’s weird.
Anyway, I am not saying you are not empathetic, but maybe you don’t understand because you are White. It’s happening. You can hate it, but it’s true.
B: I guess it is something that I have never firsthand experienced nor really have discussed with the multiple of friends that I have from other countries and ethnicities. It came up several times with Reginald, and he was always quick to believe he was being treated differently because of the color of his skin. I was there and it didn’t happen 9.5 times out of 10, and he was the one who typically created an issue. Having met you 5 years ago I never really thought of our differences because we have so many similarities. People need to realize if you strip one’s blood and compare all of us, we are all exactly the same, it is your culture and upbringings that make us unique, which for me is why I like to ask people who they are and where they are from, not because of the color of your skin. I genuinely want to know people.
L: I understand where you are coming from, but I don’t think you can dismiss what Reginald is saying. There are nuances that occur over and over again and you would never notice it unless it happened to you repeatedly. I know you don’t mean any harm and most people don’t either, but as Americans, we judge what we see. Unfortunately what we see most of the time is the color of someone’s skin because it is the biggest organ on a person. It’s just like in parts of Africa, the people are judged by the size of their noses. Now I rarely notice someone’s nose unless it is really big or really small, but that’s how it is.
In America, most people who we see on TV, leading us, working with us, are White and therefore we are conditioned to believe that is the norm. We, unconsciously, sway our children to judge that way. There is no malice anymore, for the most part. Ask any of your friends how they identify themselves. Your non-White friends will include in their description, their ethnicities. You won’t have someone saying, “I am a White man, father of two.” However, you will get, “I am Black mother of one.”
I just remember growing up and wishing everyday that I was White. You think I am joking, but I am not. I wanted so badly to be White so I can be like everyone else. But as I have learned, it is okay to be different. So now when someone ask me to identify myself, I’ll say I am a 35-year-old Asian woman who has a wonderful husband and a beautiful son. And I love every bit of it.
B: You should add in there that you are a beautiful Asian woman!
L: Thanks, B. You’re super sweet.