This is the question we must ask ourselves. The answer is, I indeed have prejudices, does that mean I have racism? Maybe. I don’t want to, I want to say “NO, NEVER”, but how will we change, how will the next generation be better than us if we aren’t honest with ourselves? How I wish I could tell you that prejudice never taints my thoughts or conversations. But the truth is, we all have prejudice. Is prejudice different than racism, yes, but they are sisters, born from the same family. The definition of Racism is- “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group”. Prejudice then is- “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience”. Regardless of who you are, we ALL have predetermined ideas about different races, social classes, genders, handicaps, etc. To say otherwise is a blatant lie. We are human, this means we flock to sameness, and fear difference. Look at any teenager and you’ll see the truth of this. Do I wish and hope and think that we don’t see skin color as a difference, yes, but does it exist in even the smallest level in all of us? Yes, I believe it does.
This is the conversation I had with my kiddo’s in the car yesterday as the topic came up. My daughter said, “of course I’m not racist, I’m Mexican, only white people can be racist”. Wow did that lead to an amazing conversation over her own preconceived opinions, aka prejudices/racism’s, even the one used in that statement. Though, sadly she has it for good reason. Out of my 5 children, 3 have been bullied for their race, and only one of those 3 has white skin. My Hispanic son was called Humpty Dumpty earlier this year and told he “fell over” the Mexican wall. And I can recognize easily that this is nothing to the racism faced for those with darker skin hues. Racism is everywhere. Prejudice is everywhere, and sadly, even in our own hearts. We just have to look at it, be honest about it, and combat it. We must, or change will never happen.
Our world is at a turning point right now. I am heart broken over many ways that change seems to be coming about, and the reactions expressed over these ways. Bad eggs exist in every organization, no group or sector is safe from it. No generalization or prejudice is fair. How I wish we were a more peaceful people on all sides, in every respect. But regardless of our ideas over how this is all playing out, the reality is, just as terrible people are alive and well, racism is still very alive and well, both equally tragic. However, the bigger tragedy is, it will continue to live on for generations and generations to come, right under our own noses, if we don’t get real and talk about reality. Over the last few weeks I have had so many amazing conversations, with my kids, with my husband, with my friends. As a white woman, sometimes I feel as though having these open conversations with one another is some of the most good we can do.
I have friends of many different colors, but to be honest, just as we tend to gravitate toward people “like us”, most of my friends are Christian white people. My non Vanilla friends will tell me that they are acutely aware when they are the only person “like them” in a room. Maybe they don’t even have any real feelings about it, it’s just an observation “oh look, it’s another black girl” or “cool, another Asian”. My non-white children are also acutely aware in the back of their minds. As a white person, with mostly white friends, I forget this, until last year when I rode on a bus and was suddenly aware that I was the only white person, and I felt strange, like everyone was looking at me wondering why I was there. That my friends is an experience we should all have more, and the exact ideas we need to be open and honest about, aware of, and fight to change.
Let me finish by saying, as a believer, we should fight to change, in the name of Jesus. My how saddened I am of the reality of a white supremacist “Christian”, I say Christian loosely, but remember, this is not a majority belief. Sadly though, ignorant people will always exist. Ignorance presses forward, and ignorance begets ignorance. Do not hate someone because they are unwise, be sad for them. They simply need a little geography lesson. Lest they forget, Jesus was not a white man….