The Challenge of Educating

In class last week we were challenged to try to explain to a typical white male that racism does still exist and that there are still inequalities between the races. Coming into this class, I had a bit of knowledge of the concepts we would be discussing in class. I also knew that one of our goals for the class would be to learn to educate others on racism and its current existence. The only way that we can try and change the way things are is to educate others about what we are learning. I didn’t realize, however, how hard it could actually be to explain to someone that racism does in fact exist and that simply in being a white person, you are a racist in this society. I understand the concepts that we have learned and being educated on the topic in multiple classes, I understand that racism does exist, that being white comes with a privilege that minority races do not have, that we categorize people automatically when we meet them, that the categories that we create then infer characteristics about a certain group. Without even realizing it, we automatically assign someone that we have just met into a category and assign certain characteristics to them without even getting to know them.

I understand all of this as we discuss it and I thought that it would be easier to explain the concepts to someone else. It is not that easy. Coming up with what to say in order to convince someone that they engage in prejudice thinking and that they stereotype others, even unconsciously, is not an easy thing to do. While I know the consequences of prejudice thinking, stereotyping, and racism, I also understand how it can be so hard for a white person to be oblivious to these concepts. As a white person, I don’t need to think about color and the existence of racism in everyday life unless I am actively learning about it. I understand that it is a concept that white people do not need to think about; being white is something that we do not have to think about it. Many white people are not aware of the privilege that they are given just because they are white because they do not need to think about the fact that they are white. How can I explain to someone that they have a privilege about other races just because they are white? If I can’t explain to someone else what I have learned, how will I be able to educate other so that we can change things? How can I understand something when discussing it in class but then not be able to reiterate the concept to someone else to educate them about racism? Why is it so hard to pass on what I have learned in an appropriate way so that others can understand also?