Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Color of Fear

We watched this documentary in class on Tuesday.

David, the white man, never did understand how bigoted and blind he was being. He believed that unless he had had an experience, then it just never happened. And I wanted to shake him. It was as if he absolutely refused to believe that someone might experience the world differently than he does. Maddening. Every time one of the men would talk about an experience or feeling they had had, David would say, "I don't believe that is the way it is." or "Not true" or "You are just blaming white people for your own lack". I do not know how these other men spent 48 hours in his company and were not any more angry than they were. I listened to him for 48 minutes and couldn't stand him.

Brandi experiences the world as a person of color. There are small things that people say and do that have made me aware of the fact that she is seen as "less than". When she was born, her father's mother said "Oh how nice of you to help that poor little black girl" Excuse me? She never even cared to find out the real reason Brandi joined our family. I don't believe she would have said that if Brandi had been white. Every chance she gets she tells me that she doesn't think less of Brandi because she is black. She just ignores the rest of my kids.

Other ways she experiences the world that I don't? I am convinced that her suspension in Dec. was racially motivated. People walk up to her and want to touch her hair. They ask if they can touch it and then do it without waiting for her answer. People express surprise that she can read 1 1/2 grade levels higher, and she can do math or that she is not particularly interested in sports unless it is soccer. Doesn't she want to play basketball? Black people play basketball, not soccer.

As a woman, I also experience the world differently. When I walk out of a store or school and it is dark, I hate to be alone because it is scary. I don't get on elevators if the only other person is a male that I do not know. In fact, I will get off if no one else is on and a male gets on.

I hate buying tires for my car. Well, that is not so true anymore, I just go to Larkin tire here in town. Jack, the owner, treats me like one of his daughter and makes sure I am taken care of. But before Jack had a business here, I was treated like an imbecile when I walked in a tire store/hardware store or what ever else is considered traditionally a male domain.

If you can find this documentary, watch it. We only watched the part on race, it has 3-4 parts and discusses other culture differences. It will get you thinking about the way you see the world and how you judge others and see them in the world.


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loretta said...

People don't think she can be smart just simply because she's a person? Shame on them. That just shows who the real stupid ones are, huh? I know it's not exactly the same, but Lexie gets the surprise at how smart she is just because she's blonde!!! and small. And Morgan because she's pretty. Have they never seen an air head brunette or red head...or MALE? Or a smart beautiful woman. I have seen all of the above. All this even though Lexie has always had the excellerated math & reads above grade level & Morgan was a 4.0 student. Then noone is surprised at how smart Tanner is. Is that because he's a white male? I've often wondered.

Sandra said...

yes, it is because he is a white male. I had a student call me racist the other day. He was hanging out in the student center. The tardy bell had rung 10 minutes before. I asked him where he was supposed to be and why he wasn't there. He came unglued and started in about how I was only asking him because he was latino and had on an LA hat and jeans. If he had been white I would have just ignored him and never said anything and I needed to just stop being so racist. He went on and on about how I was picking on him. Did it never occur to him that if he had been in class- where he belonged- that I would have never asked him?

But it is true that you cannot treat all people as human an call it good. Too bad we can't, but we live in a world where it you are not White Male you are less than.

Oh, it is going to be so nice to live in a world where all are God's children.

tawnya said...

I could get on such a tall soapbox here, but I'll try (try) to refrain.

I have NO doubt that some people are idiots toward Brandi. No doubt. But that is in LARGE part due to where you live. You don't exactly reside in the most open minded county in the world! Trust me. I still carry the scars.

I have never been scared going out at night by myself. I've never hated doing anything 'traditionally male' (well, I've hated it, but for far different reasons) because 1. if someone says something derogatory to me, I know how to put them in their place and 2. I can't do anything about such stupidity except for calling it stupidity and I know they are idiots, so I go about my day.

I DO, however, have a problem with some in this culture who raise their daughters to only value their looks in the hopes to get a man someday. This is usually coupled with teaching through actions that "white males" are of the devil and, just because you are female, you are better than they are and you should do all possible to make them feel like idiots the rest of their lives. This brings about women who are in their early, early, early 20s actually depressed because they aren't married yet, not going to school to better themselves, but simply as a way to meet boys (if they are going at all) and reek of such desperation that it makes you want to hit them or just never talk to them again.

I think that if we, as women, want respect, we should earn it and until we knock off the giggling / stupid / I'm so thin and cute / look at me charade it will hurt us all. Especially those of us who truly believe that we are partners and equal and can have dreams and goals and aspirations in life without it making us heathens or wicked or wordly. Of course if some continue to only value looks in their daughters and not teach them about the importance of education (both by word and deed) this prejudice will continue. I honestly believe why this attitude is so darn prevalent in some cultures and not in others.

And, believe it or not, this actually WASN'T the soapbox I referred to. I left most of that out!

ShazBraz said...


Sandra said...

Tawnya- valid points.
1- yes a lot of the the idiotic behavior towards Brandi is just that, idiotic.

2- It took me a while to learn to stand up to stupid and derogatory behavior, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen

3. I agree with you soooo much on this point. Girls should not be raised to just value their looks. Women should not think that they are only whole if they have a man. And I do not think that whilte males are of the devil- I love men and talk to my daughters about particular behaviors, not men in general

4.Giggling/stupid/I'm so thin and cute/look at me behavior is ridiculous and I hate it when I have female students tell me that the reason they don't have to try at school work is because they are going to be a model/wife/singer/actress etc. I even had one girl tell me that she was going to be a stripper! And I don't think that being partners and equals makes us heathens, wicked or wordly.

I think that what I said is not what I meant, because I agree with everything you said.

What I was saying is that we do treat each other differently based on outward cues- in the case of the video it was race. But the reality of our world is this- how you are dressed, the color of your skin, the car you drive, your looks etc. do determine how others treat you. And it is not right, but it does happen.

tawnya said...

No, I know you don't believe that. My tirade was just that and meant for the masses more than just you. I've seen it from family & friends alike and it's caused me to question judgements of people that I shouldn't have to. I guess my greater point is that, yes, there are people who will treat you differently because of certain things. However, my biggest peeve in this area is the one I stated and we will NEVER get that prejudice changed until women of this culture raise their daughters to be "more" and valued.

Sandra said...

Ok, Tawnya, I am going to say a big AMEN to what you said.

Karlene said...

For this reason alone, I am glad Obama is president. Yes, there will always be idiots who use color as a basis for judgment, but imagine how the world just opened up to young black men and women.

My grandson's hair is starting to "kink". (He's 1/4 black, 3/4 white.) I think it looks adorable, but there is a part of me that is afraid if it gets too kinky, he'll be treated unkindly. Like his father was, here in white-bread Mormon Utah County. Of all places on the planet, you'd think people would be kinder here. I don't think it's worse here than other places I've lived, it's just more hurtful because we should be better than that. Does that make sense?