Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not My Problem

Ever since I can remember I've been taught not to be racist, particularly against blacks. We would learn about MLK Jr., Frederick Douglass, and tolerance; and we'd learn the flipside: slavery, Jim Crow, the ugly bleeding stain of American history.

Before, I didn't think much of blacks: they were there just like the rest of us, just another part of society. But now I can't meet a black person without thinking of Harriet Tubman and affirmative action debates and studies claiming we're all entrenched with subtle, "symbolic" racism.

Ironically, I think all this education is making me a racist—in that I have ended up committing the cardinal sin of looking at individuals in terms of categories. I don't see John; I only see a living, walking struggle for equality.

All this education has also changed how I see myself. I used to think that Civil Rights, racism, and all that jazz were things that Whites and Blacks needed to sort out, that it was their problem. But the more I learn about it, the more I'm drawn in, and the more white guilt and black anxiety become mine.

1 comment:

  1. I was going to send you a link to my blog where I posted a poem I wrote called "the first time I knew I was black." But then I realized that never happened, and I never posted the poem on my blog. Suffice to say I once wrote a poem called "the first time I knew I was black." I don't know if white people write poems like that.