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Cordial discussion on the experience of racism

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posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:03 AM
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I assume this subject has been on ATS many times, but I've never been involved with any racism threads. PLUS, I hope to look into racism from a non-angry, non-judgmental, educated, and non-minimizing fashion.

To hopefully keep people from jumping to conclusions without reading the thread, I feel it's appropriate to share my background.
* I'm a white man married to a black woman.
* I'm a graduate student in Psychology and a member of my Institute's Diversity Action Team
* I have taken 5 college level classes on race relations, diversity, or similar
* I've lived in Baltimore =p

**********************

The purpose of this thread is simple: I want to know what makes you uncomfortable!

Here's why I thought of this. I was speaking with a woman who is Muslim and wears a hijab (headscarf). I mentioned that if I were sitting on a bus and someone near me was wearing a hijab I'd be less likely to start a conversation with her than someone else. I surprised myself with this comment!

Racism is about many things, one aspect in particular is about lack of knowledge of others, and forgetting that every person, no matter what, is exactly that - A PERSON!

So, what makes you uncomfortable?




posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:22 AM
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Maybe i'm dense, but I'm not quite understanding the question, "what makes you uncomfortable", like in what way?

Second line.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:47 AM
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Originally posted by Republican08
Maybe i'm dense, but I'm not quite understanding the question, "what makes you uncomfortable", like in what way?

Second line.


fair enough - I was rather vague to allow for open discussion.

I think I was (hypothetically) uncomfortable reaching out and starting a discussion with a woman on the bus because I assume she may be uncomfortable talking with a man, when no family members or women are around. [given the fact a hijab means she's Muslim, which could be incorrect; not sure.]

What makes you uncomfortable?


[edit on 28-10-2009 by notreallyalive]



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:57 AM
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Well, I've had some extreme experiences with racism.

As a Child me and my family moved around alot from BC to Alberta , they were tough times back then and my father had trouble finding work. We moved to Vancouver when I was about 9 and the kids in the schools there were not racist, in fact it was a very diverse demographic and the kids were often extremely anti-racist. To the point that if you did utter racial slurs, you were likely to get beat up.

At the age of 13 my family moved to a small town in Alberta, this was beginning of one of the great tribulations of my life.

I am 1/2 Filipino and 1/2 Caucasian, the effect of wich causes most(especially in central AB) to assume I am a Native Canadian.

It was within the first day of starting school that I felt unwelcome, most of the students were white, I would guess 97% of the school was white. It started with minor taunting but quickly escalated.

The kids called me every slur in the book from "dirty indian" to "wagon burner", despite my insistence that I was not Native. They made fun of me because they assumed I was poor and called me a "welfare recipient" even though I was not, but I could never make them understand.After a couple of fights I gave up trying to defend myself, I had been beat up pretty good and humiliated in each confrontation.

The racism in that school was endemic, and it seemed the Teachers and staff did little to intervene, in fact they did nothing. Over the course of the next 3 years I was verbally assaulted with racial slurs and every other kind of insult imaginable(I was even spat upon once or twice) every schoolday. I didn't make any friends in the whole school in this time, I became introverted and a loner. The kids were brutal and I HAD NEVER BEFORE IN MY LIFE EXPERIENCED ATTITUDES LIKE THIS.

Thankfully after 3 years of this nightmare we moved to a different northern Alberta city, the demographic in this city was very much the same(mostly white) though I would say there were far more natives and other races in this city. The kids here were not nearly so bad and I managed to fit in and make friends.

The point I am trying to make is that the attitudes of children in the racist town seemed to be learned behaviour, from their parents. It seemed that it was acceptable amongst them to be racist, especially against natives. If only the cycle of ignorance could be broken, maybe the next gen wouldn't have to experience this. But how?

I decided to exclude the name of the town I lived in because I don't want to embarrass the citizens of this town, even though they should be ashamed of themselves, for raising a whole generation of bigots.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:01 AM
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Alright a bit clearer now lol.

I had a boss once, and she was black, (nicest and most chill woman I ever met).

I remember asking her why the heck black people like chicken so much, kind of blurted it out,
, then felt a bit uncomfortable, she knew I wasn't racist or anything just asking random questions like always.

I was pretty surprised when she talked to me for the next 2 hours, about the benefits, the taste, the uses, (tons of uses, probably should have chickens around if TSHTF!!!).

I never knew anything about chicken, till I got that answer!

Funny thing was, my black coworkers joined in, explaining to me, why chicken is the greatest food on earth.


Felt uncomfortable but, after I asked, it felt really cool, ( I had also not seen her as passionate as she was when she was explaining it to me).

All in all, recently, any race (if you'll call it that, I'd say culture) I encounter, I question.

Most the time, if you ask someone something, as long as it's not condescending, they'll be happy to answer, or laugh, but you'll definitely get them talking.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:04 AM
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reply to post by red_leader
 


Thanks for sharing your story! Must have been really difficult to go through that.

If only they'd taken a moment to get to know YOU.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:09 AM
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reply to post by notreallyalive
 


Yes it was a very confusing and angering experience, I still deal with the stigma of the experience to this day. The point however is, how do you change attitudes like this? Will people in this neck of the woods ever change? By the way this was not that long ago '93-'96.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:13 AM
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Originally posted by Republican08
All in all, recently, any race (if you'll call it that, I'd say culture) I encounter, I question.

Most the time, if you ask someone something, as long as it's not condescending, they'll be happy to answer, or laugh, but you'll definitely get them talking.



There are quite a few terms we can use, culture is also my chosen term when discussing a group, including my own.

There's a great conceptual model that sort of addresses what you said. (Might take a sec to make sense on this as well
)

America used to be known as the Great Melting Pot. The idea was people came to America, forget their heritage, culture, race, etc and became "American" like evryone else. This is an OLD model.

The newer model is like a salad, the Great Salad Bowl?
Each part of the salad has its differences and contributes well to the overall salad. The tomato keeps it tomato-ness just as someone from Sri Lanka keeps his or her Sri Lanka-ness!

taste the salad - get to know people.




[edit on 28-10-2009 by notreallyalive]



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 02:19 AM
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Originally posted by red_leader
reply to post by notreallyalive
 


Will people in this neck of the woods ever change?



That's a great question. Things are changing all the time but it takes generations.

I personally think what matters is that we each take a moment to really know what a person is about, who they are, what group/culture they consider themselves part of.

I'm a white American but I'm much more likely to identify myself as compassionate, healer, student, dad, husband. If someone judges me as a white American they can lose so much of who I am - while also maybe judging me as they see Americans on the news.

Change when it comes to this type of thing is about long-term education and grass-roots awareness, among other things.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 03:08 AM
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reply to post by red_leader
 


I can totally identify with the hatred you experienced. Sucks that kids will pick out anyone who is different in any way, to make fun of and ruin their lives. It never did make sense to me....

I was a redhead, and seem to have gone through the same things children of other races go through.... Though luckily we grow up, and people learn to appreciate and love us for the exact reasons we learned to hate ourselves as kids.


Honestly, people wonder why I hate children and gave up hope on society long ago?? This thread is it. The cruelty people live through every day.... Is amazing.

Racism isn't any different than any other hatred toward any other thing that makes someone different. People are also very hateful toward gay people, handicaps of all kinds, and who knows what else.

What makes me 'uncomfortable' is mob mentality. When it's the cool thing to hate someone, nobody wants to feel left out and be targeted themself. So there is little to no hope without outside interference, for people that experience hatred in the school system. It is sad to know that hatred still happens in the schools. Lucky for today's grown ups, things like school shootings are a relatively recent development.
I don't understand why people don't FEAR getting shot now a days, for treating that 'different' person with abuse.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 03:31 AM
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The whole less likely to talk to someone wearing a hajab or whatever, isn't racist. Might not speak english, might not be able to talk to men, might be shy, and more than likely have different interests.

I was curious after watching a documentary on Africans coming over to America and learning our way of living. This might seem like a stupid question, but I don't think so, do racists, against blacks lets say, hate or dislike people born and raised in Africa if they were to meet them? I think its much more common to see a "thug" walking in a group of fellow thugs with their pants half down and think semi-racist thoughts than to see someone who actually came from Africa, and hate them. So I don't think its the race that really matters for most racists. Its more "I don't like them since I see them in gangs, pants falling down, drugs, they're poor" ect, things not connected to race.

Somehow I don't think "racists" would really disapprove of these (born in) Africans that were in the documentary, of course there are different degrees of racism. So is racism against a subset of people in a particular culture, or a set of people internationally irrespective of actual experience?

[edit on 28-10-2009 by ghaleon12]



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 03:43 AM
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reply to post by ghaleon12
 


I agree with some of that, that it's culture more than race most times.

My wife is from Kenya. She speaks English perfectly as it's taught in schools there, she basically looks like your typical American (plus she's hot! hehe). While driving through a Southern state one time, my wife and I stopped to eat. I thought I was going to have to defend us in a fight with four guys for no other reason except my wife is black and I'm white. It was sad for both of us that a few rare people are still so ignorant. I'd love to have talked with them but that's the last thing they were interested in.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 03:44 AM
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having lived in the east end of london a few years back, i was amazed at the amount of different cultuures all within a few miles of each other. literally every nation in the world is represented in East London. Stamford hill is a hisidic jewish area, all the men dress the same with their black hats and long hair coming over their ears. The women all shave their heads and wear a wig. I find it all a bit bizarre as everyone looks the same, both the men and women. About half a mile down the road, there is a large muslim community. most women wear the burhka. i also find this an almost alien form of dress as it's very difficult to tell who is underneath.

It's amazing how all these communities live in relative peace compared with the rest of the country.

It's easy to get caught up in the race debate, but Im happy to live and let live. lifes too short for such nastiness as racsism.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 04:15 AM
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Originally posted by notreallyalive
I assume this subject has been on ATS many times, but I've never been involved with any racism threads. PLUS, I hope to look into racism from a non-angry, non-judgmental, educated, and non-minimizing fashion.

Nice, not easy, trust me and being on the receiving end of racism, I should know.

Originally posted by notreallyalive
To hopefully keep people from jumping to conclusions without reading the thread, I feel it's appropriate to share my background.
* I'm a white man married to a black woman.
* I'm a graduate student in Psychology and a member of my Institute's Diversity Action Team
* I have taken 5 college level classes on race relations, diversity, or similar
* I've lived in Baltimore =p


Nice, I'm white (Kaukasian), single but mith multicultural experiences (grew up in Germany).
I have a diploma in German and Greek language and literature (University of Athens)
As I said, in the Germany of the end '60ies all through the 70ties and early 80ies I was on the receiving end of racism, because I was a Greek (Hellene) "gastarbeiter" kid growing up in the Germany of that era. It was not easy, mind you, and I was a "wonder" kid, I managed to be the first Greek (Hellene) to attend and graduate from the local German high school.
I live in Epirus.

Originally posted by notreallyalive
**********************

The purpose of this thread is simple: I want to know what makes you uncomfortable!

Here's why I thought of this. I was speaking with a woman who is Muslim and wears a hijab (headscarf). I mentioned that if I were sitting on a bus and someone near me was wearing a hijab I'd be less likely to start a conversation with her than someone else. I surprised myself with this comment!

Silly, you, sorry! What's has the silly "hijab" (headscarf) got to do with it? What's next? Color of skin?
Mind you, I could think of a thousand reasons not to be wanting to talk to a Muslim girl or woman wearing a "hijab" (headscarf) on the bus myself. But if, she was really nice or beautiful or whatever, nothing would stop me to talk to her.

Originally posted by notreallyalive
Racism is about many things, one aspect in particular is about lack of knowledge of others, and forgetting that every person, no matter what, is exactly that - A PERSON!

So, what makes you uncomfortable?


QFT, btw star and flag for you, and yes, let's all vow to keep it civil. I'll just relate three anecdotes from my personal life and experience:

1. So, I was the Greek (Hellene) wonder kid who just made to the first grades of the 9-year German high school and was returning home from school on a bus. So, I was maybe 11 years old or thereabouts and this old German man sits besides and he starts talking to me and we have a nice conversation in fluent and perfect German until he notices and asks me about the fact that I have black hair and brown eyes and then he goes into Nazi all non Aryan are scum and all that crap and starts to talk to me in "broken" "gastarbeiter" German and I keep replying to him in my perfect German and the whole bus in commotion, until the the bus driver boots the old chap off the bus.

2. Two German fellow pupils at the German highschool threatened or harrassed me on my way to the busstation for a while. I reported both to my school teachers and they both were dealt with and the harassment stopped.

3. So, I was maybe 16 years old, and there comes this Turkish boy to scool and he's all messed up in his head with a huge Turkish superiority complex and kung fu fighting to boot. So, we were walking to the bus station again and we got into an argument and he shows me his kung fu by kicking me in the chest. I thought I'd die. Later on the bus and while we were arguing a lot at the station and on the bus, I was saved yet again by the bus driver who just called the police and the young Turk got arrested. End of Story!


[edit on 28-10-2009 by WalterRatlos]



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 06:55 AM
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I hesitate to reply to this thread but here goes:

In about 1961, my father bought a restaurant near a small town in Western Kentucky. I was about 14 and so I spent my summers for a couple of years making life miserable for the people working at the restaurant.

We never had any black customers which I didn't really think about at the time.. but one Sunday afternoon two black men knocked on the kitchen door and wanted to eat... in the kitchen. I told them to just come around and come inside..but they refused. So I got a couple of chairs and sat them down at a prep table in the kitchen. That happened a couple of more times, and I remember thinking it was awful and could not understand why they would not come in and eat with the regular customers. I had at that time little experience even seeing any black people and in my hometown they all lived in an area of town down around 5th street. The other name my father used for the area I will not mention here but you can guess.

By the time I got to high school we were fully integrated. The black high school in the west end of town was closed down. I was not one of the "in-crowd", was the silent and keep to myself type. So I observed the conduct of the white "jocks" and the male black students from as much a distance as possible. I did not like what I saw out of either crowd, however what I saw out of the blacks began to form my opinion. They were arrogant, in your face, disruptive, rude, and seemingly could care less about studying. I do not know any other way to say it. Their conduct in classes made life miserable for me and the teachers.

After high school and some time in college, I went into the military. Basic training 8 weeks at Fort Knox living in a barracks with probably about a third blacks. The nicest guy there was my black drill sergeant. The black trainees however were again arrogant and disruptive however there was no friction between the black and white soldiers that I saw, however I did observe the blacks were just plain mean to each other, constantly fighting and yelling at each other... calling each other names that would have gotten any of the white guys beat up had they used them.

Later in life I owned a sailboat and lived on it in St Thomas in the Caribbean islands. The population there was at the time about 80% or more black. There is a joke about St Thomas... for 2 weeks its paradise...any longer and it becomes Hell. While I was there, in 1987 the Mayor of D.C. Marion Barry and the Governor of the Island were banned from the Frenchmen's reef Hotel for doing Cocaine with whores in the lobby. Needless to say Barry's arrest a couple of years later did not come as a surprise. A close friend of mine was de-capitated with a machete, she was being chopped up into small pieces and was being thrown in the ocean when the police arrived. The guy who did it had killed two other people that morning. It was the most dangerous place I have ever lived. Two weeks after my friend was killed, I packed up and left.


I now live in Moldova, a former Soviet Republic. The only non-white faces I ever see here are on Television. Moldova is the poorest, most densely populated country in Eastern Europe. I can walk in any town or village any time of the night or day in areas, the looks of which would make the average American pee their pants with fear, and I walk in perfect safety. I have also been to Moscow where I have walked alone at night both in the center of the city near the Kremlin and out in the suburbs. The capital city of Moldova, Chisinau has a population of about 800,000. The only crime I ever hear about which is person against person.. are drunks in or around a bar who usually know each other. A murder is a big deal and as I can tell a rare occurrence. I cannot think of any city in the West and especially in the U.S. where I would feel safe walking alone at night.

I think the honest fact is that people who share similar cultural or racial characteristics are just more comfortable together. I know it will be called politically incorrect at best to say it but I think it is an honest fact.

Some people may call me racist for my attitude, however in every instance where I personally have had an unpleasant interaction with a member of another race it has been them who was the source of the problem. I choose not to subject myself to the stress and therefore I chose to live where I am comfortable and safe.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 07:00 AM
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I wonder how many people are going to tell here, of reverse racism towards whites in london today. London has gone very anti white people.

Any one to tell some stories, i doubt it very much.

Whites cannot talk about this, with claims they are racist, if they do.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 07:40 AM
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Originally posted by andy1033
I wonder how many people are going to tell here, of reverse racism towards whites in london today. London has gone very anti white people.

Any one to tell some stories, i doubt it very much.

Whites cannot talk about this, with claims they are racist, if they do.


I lived in London for 8 years, In Tooting, In Camberwell, In Brixton and Hackney.

I never recieved any rascist abuse for being white.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by WalterRatlos
 


Thanks for the critique and sharing your stories.

I also don't think my situation with the hypothetical woman wearing a hijab was racism, just surprised me that I'd treat someone differently without recognizing it first. I may have been completely in the right, knowing that Muslim women are not supposed to be around men unless a family member or another woman is present.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:51 PM
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Originally posted by expat2368
I hesitate to reply to this thread but here goes:



I'm really glad you did! What an interesting life.




I think the honest fact is that people who share similar cultural or racial characteristics are just more comfortable together. I know it will be called politically incorrect at best to say it but I think it is an honest fact.



I agree and disagree, both. We're comfortable with what is closer to ourselves, can let our guard down, ya know. But, as we become more and more open to learning typical behaviors (which can be considered prejudiced, btw) we can understand more people and are thus more comfortable.

People of some cultures find it rude when you make direct eye contact, especially if one is a male or of "higher social order." There is so much to learn, it's really not plausible we can know it all.

For me, being in tune with people on an emotional level allows me to know if I've done something that might be offensive; if that happens I confront it directly as in, "Oh, was that offensive?" etc. Doesn't always work but I enjoy life and almost never have negative experiences with people.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 04:12 PM
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reply to post by LostNemesis
 


Yes LostNemesis, this is what I experienced, the mob mentality. The racist behavior was encouraged by their peers and I believe reinforced at home by their parents attitudes.



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