My community is very diverse. On the left side of my house you will find a young, white on white, married couple and to my left the opposite is true; you will find an older, black on black, married couple. If you walk down my street you will find a wide range of colors and ages any of which may be married or single, in an interracial relationship or of the same race. The feeling tends to be live and let live, or so I thought until I actually spoke with some of my friends that are either of color or are in interracial relationships.
What I found was shocking to me and that is that racism is very much alive in my community. I am a white female and I am 35 years old and I am married to a white man that is 30 years old. I have three children from a previous marriage and they are also white. Because the media tends to be geared toward people of white skin I would have to say that they represent people like me. Our local news station consists of two Hispanic news anchors and the rest of the journalists are primarily white, but I do know of one black gentleman.
Every where you go in my community the two races that you see represented are whites and Hispanics. I’m not sure what the thinking is concerning the lack of recognition for the other races, but it does bother me that it is so very obvious in its exclusion of others. I am assuming that these decisions are made by leaders within the community, but who they might be I am not sure. I really don’t have much to do with “leaders” in my community outside of my Pastors and their view is very much the same as mine and that is that people are people and God made us all to be equal.
My Pastor has a daughter that is mix and maybe this is one reason he is so open to all races and people. The one thing that you will notice when you walk into my church is that it looks like a racial rainbow. There are a great many races and ethnic groups represented and it is a great place to be. You have pretty much every kind of interracial marriage that you can put together with the races represented and out of this you have some pretty awesome children. I have the honor of working with the little ones and I think that it is so cool that they are growing up in a world that is so open and colorful.
At least this is what I thought before I actually spoke with some of the adults about their daily lives as a person of color or in a mixed marriage with mixed children. I spoke with one woman named Roni; I have known this woman for 8 years and what I found out I will have to say was a shock to me. I was telling her some things that I was learning in this class and asked her what she thought about racism and if she experienced any form of it. I have to tell you that I honestly did not expect her to yes.
Well, she did and she went on to tell me how when her oldest son was in Kindergarten she was at the Principals office on numerous occasions because of how her son was being treated. He even came home singing a song once that was slanderous towards black people. Obviously her son didn’t know what he was singing but she did and it grieved and angered her. Roni is a Hispanic woman that is married to a black man so keep this in mind when picturing her in the office of a white principal discussing racially slanderous songs that her son was taught in his class. I had such a hard time even empathizing with her.
As a white woman I do not even think I have ever been a situation remotely like this. Needless to say she had to be very careful how she worded things to make the principal take responsibility for what was going on in the school. She went on to tell me many other stories of how her children were mistreated in class because of their skin color and how people look at them and stereotype them because they are not white. I would love to tell you that this was the only example of racism but I would not be telling you the truth. My best friend is a white woman in her mid-twenties and she is married to a black man and they have 4 children together.
Her kids call me Aunt ShaSha. I was there when these children were born and I love them dearly. I see them as children and it never occurred to me that others may see them as anything else. Well, as I mentioned before I do not have any issues within the community. Everyone is friendly and helpful and I am usually welcomed with a smile, well if I am dressed nice but that is another paper, so imagine my shock when I took her children out to the grocery store and people actually treated my differently because I had mixed children with me.
This was not the first time I had been in public with the children but it was the first time that I was out with them alone and to my dismay people actually looked down their noses to me and for the first time I realized what it must feel like to be a woman living in an interracial world. At first I thought maybe I was just having an off day so I talked to Alanna (the children’s mother) about it and she confirmed that she is treated like this on a regular basis. She went on to tell me a story about being at the doctor’s office and how the doctor was ugly to her and her son and even went so far as to refuse to treat her son.
She complained to the department head and the issue was resolved, but she assured me this was not the only incident concerning racism. There is a section of my community where the racism is in reverse; it is blacks being racist towards whites. I honestly couldn’t figure it out and I was upset about it as well. In my ignorance I was upset about them always complaining about the slave days and how their ancestors were mistreated and so on and so forth. I wanted to shout to them to let it go and move on and to look around because those days were over and not everyone is racist anymore.
Well, through this class I have learned so much about them and what has transpired over the last 100 years and have come to realize that it really hasn’t been long enough for the younger generations to separate it in their thinking yet and that they are upset for many reasons but one valid reason is that they have never been apologized to for the travesty they had to endure at the hands of greedy and self-serving people. I am so thankful for this class because it has afforded me the opportunity to get shocked out of my little bubble and to really get to know my brothers and sisters and some of what they go through on a daily basis.
I think that my community does a good job at representing minority group interests. Our schools have ESL programs in place and there is a community health clinic that runs off of a sliding scale for those that cannot afford medical insurance. There’s child care provided at no cost by the government. I don’t mention these things to portray that all minority groups are poor, but the numbers show that there is a poverty issue among some minority groups and so I am thankful that these services are provided. I am one such person that cannot afford medical insurance at this time so I am grateful for these services.
I honestly don’t know what other services need to be implemented but you can be sure that I will be talking to more people and finding out. I feel so liberated! I find myself wanting to stop people and ask them what their experiences are and how it affects them and what they would change and why. I am just not sure how people will receive those kinds of questions from a 115 pound, white woman. I think that if there was one area that I could change it would be advertising because I honestly do not believe that America is represented by the people that model for these pictures or advertisements.
I would love to use people of color. Not just black or Hispanic, but the real color of America, at least in my community, is mix. It is Philippine and white or Puerto Rican and Black, but it is definitely colorful and diverse. I love my community. I know that it is not perfect but no community is or will ever be, but what my community has is a huge mix of people who the majority of love one another or at least accept everyone. Through this thinking I would have to say that we are the same. There are the ones that still have some growing to do, but progress is being made and through education and time more progress will be made.
Courtney from Study Moose