Racial prejudices are so complex; they have many layers and implications.
I grew up in the American South, so I had an idea of what I thought racism was. Where I lived as a child there was only white people and black people; there wasn’t any other kind of ethnicity, so I thought that these two groups were the only ones with racial tensions, and that it was all a direct result of the slave trade, years and years ago.
All I knew beyond that was that it was apparent that ill feelings persisted on both sides. I was just a child and I have always been tender hearted. I felt it was wrong and I felt afraid.
As I began traveling and having new experiences, I was a little surprised to find racism exists between probably every people group on the planet.
Maybe I was naive, but I thought racism was a black and white problem. I knew about predjudice agains Jews during WWII but I thought that was over and done with.
Then I learned more.
Guatemalans didn’t like Mayan Indians. Lao don’t trust Vietnamese. Cambodians don’t like Thais. My year in China was perhaps the most glaring; it seemed like the most xenophobic place on earth!
I have experienced racial prejudice in positive and negative ways. I have been told by probably half a dozen people of different ethnicities that I am more like THEM than I am like a white American. This is meant as a compliment, but it implies that “you all” are a certain way and “we” are different.
I have also been charged higher prices just because of the way I look. Because I have white skin, I must be rich (if only it were that easy).
It bothered me a lot at first, because in America we are taught to have a very strong since of JUSTICE; it isn’t technically acceptable to deny someone anything on the basis of their appearance, age, or race.
In Thailand I notice classified ads from business looking to hire, “female, less than 25 years of age, Thai national only, pleasant appearance” for a receptionist job.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense to want to hire someone with these “qualifications” for a receptionist job, but in America it is illegal to make physical appearance a criteria.
Because of this, in America, a lot of things are unspoken, inferred.
I think a lot of aspects of race don’t get explored enough, so they become taboo. I think it makes things worse for racial relations.
In Asia, I get comments all of the time about my appearance. My white skin, my “big nose” (a favorite observation about someone with European features). It also isn’t taboo to pronounce someone to be “fat” or “thin”.
I’m still not comfortable pointing out that someone is “dark” or “light”, like some people in Asia do, but I’m okay with others talking about me in that way now.
I feel like once it is said, everyone is satisfied and we can move on to more interesting topics.
I see value in not ignoring racial differences, but bringing them into the light so that we can acknowledge and accept that they are there.
Even young children notice and point out physical differences; isn’t it better to say, “Yes, she does have brown skin. Isn’t it beautiful?” Instead of , “Shhh! Don’t say that!”
This post started out as a product review, but I definitely have chased a rabbit trail!
My original idea was to express that these are the things that have impacted the way that I view racial relations.
I know they are there, and I have always hoped to adopt internationally.
I have heard of couples shying away from adopting a child of a certain race because they worried that it would “cause problems” with extended family or within their community.
I can imagine what they might be thinking, but I can’t imagine turning down a child in need of a family. Any child.
I hope I never let ideas about race (mine or anyone else’s) get in the way of me choosing what is right and good.
Stay tuned for a giveaway from OriginOne.