I was born & raised in Southern Cali, and believe it or not, I witnessed quite a few racism at a young age. My family immigrated to H.B. During that time, there was a population of KKKs and skinheads. This was in the early 80's.
I remember one time, when I was 3, when a group of KKKs started running into the back of my mom's car with me in the back seat. They kept reversing, and running forward into my mom's car at the stoplight, laughing, and ramming into our car over and over until the lights turned green.
My aunt even had a cross burnt on her front lawn.
I've also experienced racism within the minority population. (I've experienced racism even within my own race where minorities will look down on other minorities, and some would even disown their own race- sorta like the Dave Chapelle skit on the black guy who thought he was white. )
I dated a guy who was within my own ethnicity, and dumped him because he said some pretty nasty things about people of various races/physique.. attributing it ALL to genetics. I cannot stand that freaking mentality. Even though I could've been married to a guy whom most girls would probably not mind wanting to marry, I was like Sayanara Beatch! I couldn't raise kids with a guy like him.
Even though I was a victim of racism, I still see the goodness in people. Sometimes, when people live in fear/are ignorant, I feel kinda sorry for them, because there is so MUCH out there that they are missing. I love the diversity out here, and embrace it (without it- life would be too bland).
I think that allowing a select group to exclusively decide what constitutes oppression is dangerous, even if that group is the oppressed. It's a recipe for mistrust, abuse, and a moving target that changes on a whim. I know some people will find this loaded with irony, but not much I can do about that.
Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.
Interesting discussion. Are white non-American allowed to contribute?
I always think of disussions like this through the framework of film and television theory. If anything film classes have taught me more than I ever would know on the complexities of race relations. I remember watching Jungle Fever in particular (and attending the associated lecture) - it really opened my eyes and has strongly coloured (pun unintended ) the way I view race in media since then. Some points this film, and film theory in general, makes (I think they are interesting talking points):
- African americans are often sexualised in media, particularly men. They seem to be defined purely by their bodies and objectified. This may be residual feeling left over from the slavery days when the white girls got turned on by the naughty idea of sleeping with their daddy's slaves.
- Token non-white characters in TV and film are rather insulting half-assed attempts to keep the non-whites happy. This also creates 'the burden of representation': ie. that non-white character is forced to represent his/her entire race. Anything that character does is viewed as a statement about their race in general, rather than a result of their individual personality. Also non-whites are expected to indentify with white characters but never the reverse. You so rarely so an advertisement where the only person it features is black, unless that ad is specifically targeting black people. Heaven forbid a white person should have to identify with someone other than their own race - how could I relate to them? And no, just because you watched the Cosby Show it doesn't make you socially progressive. This is slowly changing however - many TV shows feature more than one character of any given race.
- Whiteness is portrayed in media (and life) as 'normal' and 'neutral'. Being white is the standard, therefore anyone else is 'coloured', and a deviation from that standard. You never talk about your white co-worker because you view his race as a non-issue. However an african american co-worker is forever the 'the black guy'. He doesn't get to be a three-dimensional person, he is fundamentally indentified by his race, not his personality. And believe me, language is indicative of deeper sentiment.
- The view of beauty in african american women is based on white standards. The more white their features are, the more attractive they are considered. You only have to look at which black women are considered beautiful by the general (white) public: Beyonce, Halle Berry, Rhiannah, Tyra Banks etc. Almost always their features are closer to those of white women than those of most black women: thinner nose, straight hair, lighter skin, stick thin figure etc. Its like darker african american women can't be beautiful on their own terms. Not cool.
- Following on from that: there is an inequality in interracial relationships. This one particularly had an impact on me in Jungle Fever. In the film, an african american couple experience marital problems when the husband has an affair with a white woman. In one scene, the wife and her friends sit around discussing racial politics. They lament the fact that white women are stealing all the good black men away from them. This especially affects them because white men rarely date black women so their pool of potential partners is that much smaller. They also discuss the fact that (as I said above) that lighter skinned african american women have an unfair advantage in the dating scene.
Oh and I have a question: for those of you who grew up in racist enviroments and aren't racist, what do you think caused you to think differently? Is it something ingrained since birth or is it a result of your experiences?