Talking to Implicit Racists

I feel very strongly about the what I saw as Connie’s challenge to us in our last class period. The way that she presented a point of view, one which is so pervasive throughout society and is a significant factor as to why structural racism still exists, was very difficult to provide coherent arguments against. I found myself struggling to put together words in order to say exactly what I wanted to say. I thought that the readings were very helpful in providing historical and theoretical evidence to back up our positions to try to convince Connie that her ideas about race and racism in our society should be reevaluated. She represented so much of the American population who are ignorant to how racism is so prevalent in our society and why that is. I enjoyed, as well as felt anxious about, our journey to finally start talking about how the roots of racism continue to permeate throughout our institutions and affect how we organize ourselves. The idea of race and racism as a social construction is very important to be clear about and I hope that we further our analysis and therefore understanding of such a complicated topic.

The class exercise showed me that I have a lot more studying to do. I also realized that practicing have those discussions to learn what ideas and arguments are useful to use when someone is so ignorant but steadfast as Connie presented herself as in the scenario. This type of clear articulation is something that I have struggled with in the past. I have encountered many people who were not joking when they said they believed racism did not exist anymore, or that if they did believe it existed, that it was not their fault or problem to deal with. However, it is all our problems and until everyone sees that, we will continue to struggle with conversations such as the one we had in class.

2 thoughts on “Talking to Implicit Racists”

  1. Alex,
    I completely agree with your observations of our class discussion and I also felt anxious and a loss for words as you mentioned, so you were not alone. I think that your point about having a lot more to learn is very true and I had that realization as well. I think that this exercise opened up my eyes to how hard it is to have discussions like that and how important it is to practice these conversations and read the articles that we have been, in order to prepare ourselves for future conversations.

  2. I’m really, really glad the discussion was useful for you. By the end of the semester I think you will have a mountain of research evidence to back up your positions. But, learning how to package that knowledge in bite size pieces people will be willing to “hear” will take practice. I’m still working on it myself. (I think it is a life-long thing; you learn, you share, you learn, you share). I’ve also learned that I have to pick my battles – when, where, who and how much depth…

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