Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Being "Colorblind" is not the answer
I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality
I have come to the realization that we all have certain prejudices impressed upon us by this white supremacist society. I strive every day to dismantle racism, but I have to admit that I bring to the table certain ideas of how a person will act based upon the ethnic community to which they belong. I think the important thing is to REALIZE that these impressions ARE NOT REALITY, but are rather images enforced by a society controlled by white supremacy. I cannot help having certain thoughts, however, I can control what I do with those thoughts.
When I find myself thinking something that is prejudicial, whether negative or positive, I stop to question myself as to WHY I am having such thoughts. I stop and remind myself that each human being is an individual, and while members of different ethnic groups may have certain customs, those customs are not better or worse than customs of other ethnic groups. Those customs do not define every member of the group, nor do they define the group as a whole. Sometimes I think that I am everything I fight against because I have these impressions occasionally, but I realize that to HAVE these thoughts is not necessarily harmful, but to NOT DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE THEM is. If I have certain ideas about a person based upon their ethnicity, I force myself to re-examine WHY my thoughts have gone in that direction, and think of ways that I can counter the thought process.My ideas and thoughts are constantly evolving, which is a definite positive. If I did not keep an open mind, I would still be beholden to prejudicial assumptions learned as a child. A person who does recognize these prejudices within himself should not punish himself for being a bigot, but should rather examine the assumptions and work to counter them in their psyche, and to adjust their behavior accordingly.
I have struggled with this recently. My ex (a Black man) is constantly making comments about "white people are....", followed by a "positive" attribute, with the implication that the behavior of Black people is diametrically opposed. However, these are ideas that have been impressed upon him by a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, and for me to believe them would be wrong. I have to examine each statement for myself and realize why he believes this way. I cannot take these statements (although made by a Black man) as truth. I must realize where these beliefs are coming from and try to counter them. I always must recognize that a characteristic that is perceived in OUR society as "positive" may only be seen so due to cultural biases.
It is very hard to overcome conditioning. If you are shown a racist assumption every day on TV and hear it every day from the people around you, it is easy to fall into believing such an assumption. The challenge is to study and learn more so that you can change your own assumptions rather than assimilating into the views of the world around you.