Stark Realizations

With the presidential election coming up on Tuesday, the next four years of policy are being decided.  Looking back at the campaigns leading up to this point, the rhetoric surrounding race has been interesting.  Much of the things said about race have been problematic, but prior to this semester I would not have understood why.  This semester of classes, with contemporary racism and multicultural psychology has been very eye-opening for me.  Coming from a predominately white town in New Jersey.  I grew up hearing jokes from my classmates about how my high school’s football team was going to lose because the other team had more black kids.  Even though I knew these comments meant something deeper, I never really thought of them as problematic.  Similarly, hearing about a beautiful pageant winner being called “Miss Housekeeping” would have seemed bad, but I would not understand the reason.  I now understand that Trump calling a woman “Miss Housekeeping” is microassult.  Reflecting on myself prior to this class is very uncomfortable, because in the face of a microassult I would have probably invalidated the experience of people.  In an attempt to make them feel better, I would have made them feel worse.  Because of my race, I have the privilege of not having to think about race.  In previous elections, race would not have mattered to me much.  However, now I find myself paying attention more to the rhetoric and policy surrounding racial issues.  For example, I would have never viewed Trump saying that he loves and cares about people of color and women is a rhetorical device allowing him to make bigoted comments.  Has your education about race changed the way to view politics and policies?

4 thoughts on “Stark Realizations

  1. This post definitely reminded me of how far we’ve all come. I don’t think I always realize the way this class has impacted the way I think about race in my daily life. I have never considered myself to be a racist person, but looking back, it’s crazy to think of how many jokes or comments with racial implications I have heard in the past and not really taken a huge issue with. But now hearing a comment like the one about the Black football players would make me feel very uncomfortable and upset. This just goes to show how much intervention is actually needed to promote change in the way people think about race. If I hadn’t taken this class (and based on the comments, I’d say others in our class share this feeling) I would not be able to understand all the complexities involved in racism, and it is a bit frightening that there are probably a lot of people out there who are not in classes or not taking the time to learn about racism, who are in that “before stage”.

  2. To directly answer your question Michael, I remember specifically during the third presidential debate when Trump argued for our criminal justice system to rely on “law and order.” I immediately jumped out of my seat and could see the connections to his words and that of the Michele Alexander chapter we had just read! Prior to that chapter, I would have never seen that statement as problematic. Truthfully, I still don’t feel that I totally grasp all the institutions, the rhetoric, and their connections (as it is pretty overwhelming). But like you said, just being able to recognize the racial problem of something is an important step to understanding why it’s wrong.

  3. I totally agree with this post. Especially looking back on it after the election, I think it relates a lot to what we were talking about in class today. Even though people voting for Trump may not think they are “racist,” then their actions show that they do not make race a priority, and that can be hard for people to grapple with. I liked reading your thoughts!

  4. I definitely feel similar. Especially because I did buy into the colorblind ideology for a long time. So instead of passively listening to racist jokes, I would openly scold people for telling them but I didn’t quite understand what compelled me to scold them. I just knew it was wrong to point out or make fun of another person’s race. That knowledge is useless without the proper knowledge as to why microaggressions are wrong. And it makes one susceptible to giving up on correcting or having a dialogue with another person when you don’t really understand why you have a moral stake in doing so.

What do you think? Join the conversation!