>A blogger’s misconceptions about race

>I rarely feel the need to openly blast other bloggers about their opinions and outlook on life. But, this blogger, That Teowonna, compels me to do so.

In her latest post entitled “Unpopular truths according to That Teowonna, Unpopular Truth #1: When old people die, racism will die,” That Teowonna points out that racism is passed down from parent to child, etc. and, considering how the youngest generation of Americans are “co-mingling” (her word, NOT mine), racism will fade as older people die. In other words, our youngest Americans, who don’t harbor any racists beliefs or opinions, won’t pass these attitudes down to their children.
Here are just some snippets of what she said:
It’s no secret that I feel a little differently about racism than many other black people. If you catch the PA Bennet Show, a daily radio talk show on 620 AM on any given day of the week, you will hear me say in no uncertain terms that I think black people perpetuate racism just as much as white people do. Even more so, I think that old black people and old white people are the main catalysts of enduring racism. While both deny it, both carry hatred in their hearts and BOTH refuse to let racism die. That’s why I believe that when old people die, racism will die!

Because older people on both ends of the racial spectrum (black and white)have come out of an era of unabashed racism, once they pass away (and I really do mean that in the absolute most respectful manner possible), the younger generation, who have not experienced racism in quite the same way, will begin to impart their views and ideals onto the world, without the looming veil of racism.

Have you noticed that young children do not see race? Have you noticed the increased level of interracial dating that is going on today? Have you noticed that America is getting browner and less black and white? When is the last time you went to a high school sports game and observed young people? When you go, you will see young people, black and white, co-mingling in a way their parents never had the luxury of experiencing. This is proof that younger people do not see race like older people do. This is proof that as older people pass away, the racism of the last 200 plus years will slowly pass away as well.

I responded to her naivete with this:

While I admire your optimism, I don’t think I can agree.

Old people have been dying for years and racism is still alive and kicking. Even with a black president, you still have Congressmen showing his contempt for blacks and you still have people (YOUNG people) joining white supremacist groups because they feel threatened by the “advancement” of blacks and Latinos.

Children don’t see race because, in my opinion, their young minds haven’t grasped the impact race can have on how they perceive people. In my opinion, children may be racist per se, but they may not know there’s a name for it (unless they grew up with self-proclaimed racists). As I’ve experienced, once children move into middle and high school, they tend to gravitate towards people who look like them. Why? Well, it’s simple. As you get into your teenage years, you become more self-conscious about fitting in. So, you surround yourself with people who look like you for some sort of protection.

Your reasoning behind this “rise in interracial dating” among young people and seeing people “co-mingling” amongst different racists is quite simplistic, in my view.

As a person who has been in an interracial relationship for six years, that does not inoculate one from racism. I know people who’ve dated people of a different race and still harbor negative feelings towards their mate’s race as a whole.

And this “co-mingling?” Sure, you can “co-mingle,” but that also doesn’t mean you’re cured from the disease of racism. I live in the South and people of different races co-mingle (your word, not mine) at sporting events all the time. Again, that doesn’t mean people still don’t have a negative feeling towards other races.

Once again, your optimism is wonderful, but I’m just not seeing this change you are reporting to see.

I’ll be honest: this type of thinking scares me to death. This sort of simplistic view of an obvious cancer on the American public is troubling for a couple of reasons.

A person who holds this type of world view is destined to be let down considerably. Not only are they unprepared to deal with the realities of living in this country, they are probably not mentally capable to deal with the psychological effect racism can and does have some people. Let’s face it, while we may claim it doesn’t hurt when someone hurls the N word at us, the sting from hearing the word used towards us is always lurking under the surface.

This type of reasoning also makes me wonder if a person has even mentally progressed into an adult that’s able to make rational decisions. This type of childlike outlook on such a pressing issue reminds me of how those in middle and high school tend to view the world: with a black and white point-of-view of issues. In other words, “If x happens, then y would surely follow.” And as reasonable adults, we all have realized life is just that simple.

I will say one thing to this blogger’s credit: young people, in general, are more tolerable towards people who are different. For example, more pre-teens and teenagers are coming out of the closet at a much earlier age than their older counterparts. A recent NY Times magazine article does an excellent job in detailing the lives of gay youth having to juggle their love lives and their academics in sometimes not-so-comforting settings.

However, I don’t think that can be attributed to the dying off of older, homophobic generations. As we all know, homophobia is still rampant among people and is seeped within our culture. There are still those who have been killed because of their sexuality and those who are pushed to suicide due to anti-gay bullying.

To further make my point about the nonsense of older people’s deaths stamping out racism, I strongly believe the young boy who created a Facebook poll on whether President Obama should be killed was motivated, in part, by racist beliefs he either harbors or have learned from those young and old around him. I challenge anyone to ask whether or not this type of behavior would have been tolerated a year ago when we had Bush II living on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Racism dying will have nothing to do with older people dying. The only way to stamp out this disease is for this country to change its culture–period. Americans have been exposed to a culture that glorifies whiteness and that constantly places its minorities in a negative light. Women and minorities are constantly playing catch up just to get a piece of the American dream pie.

We as a people must correct one another when we make disparaging remarks about a person’s skin color, hair, race, sexuality and gender. We need to discuss racism and bring it out into the open. We cannot hide behind a veil of secrecy and oblivion to the issue of racism.

Waiting for older people to die off, thus eliminating racism, will do nothing to advance society into this highly desired “post-racial America.” Challenging one’s beliefs and other’s racist opinions should be the first step in healing the wounds of the past.