"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Race

I've been challenged to write a post about racism. OY VEY! I have been pondering this for many days. Do I really want to go there? This is a topic that I can surely write about but never "win" and end up in a circle of heated comments that never end.

It's so charged with emotions, and emotions run us more than rational thought. When I write this post I am going to take my time and show evidence after evidence after evidence backing up my points.

I am sure that this will inspire those who disagree with me to then list some of their own evidence too. But the devil is NOT in the details in this argument. You will always be able to find me someone somewhere who truly is racist, but that doesn't proove that there is a systemic problem of racism, and that a word some columnist used was therefore a racist remark.

There is an emotional problem in this country, not a racism problem. NOTE: I didn't say there is no racism. Caroline Myss calls this "The Culture of Woundology."

Let me end this teaser post with the following story and thoughts:

One day I was driving with friends to a karaoke event. We had to go through a very rough neighborhood at the initial part of the drive. When coming to a light, I saw some young men and this overwhelming feeling came over me to lock the doors.

We all come into this world with this animal instinct, which is supposed to protect us. But our societies have taught us to ignore that which we cannot see. And since this isn't something you can see and something I can never proove it can be interpreted in any number of ways by the people I am with, the people reading this today. And I cannot stop that from happening.

If the people I am with and the people reading this story choose to determine what my thoughts in my head were at the moment, and conclude that they were not upstanding and without racist intent, what can I do? I know who I am. I own my thoughts and actions. And thinking my intent was out of seeing black men, I needed to lock my doors, only serves the person thinking such things, to be upset, angry, etc...and then the focus stays there, in a negative thought pattern.

I cannot live my life that way and I won't.

That day in that moment, I let my body guide me to feeling that I should lock my doors. If you want to suppose I would not have done that if those young men were white, that is certainly your perogative. But you'd be wrong.

You see you don't know me. You don't know that I walk in the middle of the street at night in my own neighborhood which is mostly white, hispanic and Jewish and has million dollar homes. You don't know that I often cross the street when I get that same feeling I did in the car that day, with the big heavy middle aged white man who I saw walking toward me alone, as I was walking alone too.

I don't always cross the street nor do I always feel I need to lock the doors. But I do sometimes. And it comes from an unexplainable place that I trust.

7 comments:

leezee52 said...

I sometimes think this way too and I feel most of the fear is taught to you. Not by my parents but when I moved to the Seattle area I was told which neighborhood was unsafe and I guess I just learned from them...so we all know that bigotry is learned and fear too of certain people. Part of me hates that. I have a story of how we moved out of city of Seattle that I'll write later on. Oh yes one more thing my parents told me that when they were looking for a house in the 50's they asked were there any areas that said no Jews allowed. In those days there were and even here in Seattle there were those areas too.

Jessica said...

I can't wait to read your post. :)

Malcolm said...

Nice tease... I'm looking forward to reading your post on the issue of race.

If you have a chance, check out the post I wrote on the latest Don Imus incident. I'd be interested to hear your input.

Lauren said...

Lee, there are those that were taught to be that way, but I wasn't and I am not. I do not claim that I am not prejudice. We are all a little bit. But I can't and won't worry about hurting someone else's feelings to the detriment of me and my safety. If my gut is screaming something is off, a person's intent is bad I will listen and I expect at the least that my friends support me and know who I am.

As you and I are Jewish we do have some common understandings and shared experiences. I too,even though I am younger have been in situations were I was harrassed simply because I am Jewish. I have heard the stories of my granfather going to the catskills and seeing signs of no jews and no dogs. Or no Irish and no Jews etc...

There must come a time when we move past these and stop using them as excuses to be angry with each other. Well let me leave it here as I am probably going to do a big post on this as I said because I have been challenged to do so.

Jessica, I am sure you are! I personally am not looking forward to this but will do it nonetheless and do my best.

Lauren said...

Malcom, I am gonna skip reading your post because I do not want to be influenced by anything you have to say before I say what I have to.

I will tell you briefly that what was done to him in my opinion was totally crapoli. He got a bum deal the first time around. This time he said something sarcastic, to make a point. It wasn't meant in a literal way. and by being so focused on him, it takes away from the real offenders which is pretty darn sad if you ask me.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Sometimes those feelings don't have as much to do with race as they have to do with common sense. But we infuse them with a bunch of racial history that really have nothing to do with being a woman and wanting to be safe.

Gypsy said...

I always, always listen to my gut instinct...it's there to warn us of danger and it would be sheer folly to ignore it even if it offends other people.