The last part of the paper I wrote for my Media, Race, and Politics class. You can find the first part here, the second part here, and the third part here… although you don’t really need to read them to read this last one. Just read…
I have heard it said: “Why should I feel guilty about what my ancestors did (as slave owners), I didn’t do anything?”
Another: “I want to befriend the blacks at work, but they always seem to isolate themselves.”
Another: “Eventually we’ll all become so racially mixed that race won’t really matter anymore, right?”
Another: “How is it that black communities are the only ones that haven’t gotten themselves out of poverty yet. Other immigrants are at the same level as whites now.”
Another: “I have black friends, and they don’t feel the need talk about race all the time. Its not a big deal.”
Some of these words spoken to me before this school year had begun, but I am only now beginning to realize what their true significance. Race and racism does exist. We only try not to notice it, but it’s impossible for one not to develop ideologies around the tensions that society constructs itself around. We stop listening to it. We close our ears and our minds. We hope that we won’t have to talk about race, that via harmony and equality the barriers will disappear.
The ultimate goal, the majority believes, is for race to no longer exist. We believe that we share this goal with the minority; that they want nothing more than to join the ranks of the majority. This reinforces so much racism and race trauma in society today— black on black hate, dynamics of oppressor and oppressed, self-loathing, among much more.
In the beginning of this essay I felt as though I had to explain my own racial background before I could speak on behalf of the non-racial majority. I felt that I must acknowledge my own disinclination to embrace my racial heritage and my proclivity to join the non-racial majority. I do not know what being Asian means, as a singular identity or as a part of a group, and I have not felt the need to reclaim that. I do not want it to define me, just as a white person does not feel the need to consider their whiteness.
But our society forces blacks to define themselves as the minority, as the oppressed, as African. I can move throughout my life without thought for my own race, and a black person cannot. I can claim myself as a non-race; black people cannot avoid the claims of others. Realize this, our speakers seem to be saying to us. Realize that being black means something. Realize that it is something that is carried, that is never forgotten, not for a single day of our lives.
“Then what can we do to solve things?” We will always ask. “Where do I start?”
Just keep listening, I am told.
Don’t let anything keep you from listening.