A Better Understanding

This week in class we were challenged with the task of educating a “typical white male” on how racism is still prevalent today. I was surprised by how difficult this task was, and especially surprised by how blank my mind was when trying to think of what to say. It started making me nervous about my role in society after this class, and how I’m supposed to spread my knowledge to others who embody the same persona that Connie did in class. By the end of class, after many attempts, we were explained the historical root causes of the inequalities that are still present today. Ironically, after years of learning about systematic and institutionalized racism, I thought “well yeah, duh! That makes sense!” However, it became really clear to me that my knowledge was actually quite shallow and I didn’t understand either of those concepts in depth. Although I’m a little more confident now that I’ve learned more, I can’t deny that I’m still insecure about changing the privileged white minds of America.

As we discussed aversive racism, a concept that I had learned about prior to this course, I also started feeling a little insecure. I think that when I had learned about it in the past, I just took it as fact; something that white people do, rather than applying it to my life. It made me ponder through different events and scenarios from my past. When have I acted aversively racist? Have I changed since learning about these concepts? I believe I have, since I’ve been recognizing other’s acts of aversive racism much more. Does anyone else feel that they have been noticing this more?

4 thoughts on “A Better Understanding

  1. This class has definitely opened my eyes to acts of aversive racism. I have also realized that I have also acted aversively racist in the past without ever meaning to or even realizing. This class has not only provided me with the ability to pick out when other people are acting aversively racist but has also educated me with a term for those actions and why they are so detrimental. This class has helped me become more aware of the existence and of the consequences of aversive racism. I hope to further my knowledge with more classes and more life experiences to be able to better pick out these instances. I have not gained the capability of picking out all acts of aversive racism but hope to be able to pick out more and more the more I learn about and notice things.

  2. I too am more aware of aversive racism since taking this class. In the past, I simply accepted that people were either mean or ignorant when they dealt with me unfairly. Fortunately this class has served to open my eyes to the many ways in which a person of color could be discriminated against without themselves being aware. I feel a sense of guilt as I take inventory and realized that many of the incidents I encountered have not been properly addressed because I was not educated on aversive racism. Today, like most of my classmates, I pay attention more and seek opportunities to educate others on their behaviors and the many lasting negative effects of those behaviors. Even with the knowledge I have gained in this class, I still struggle with addressing aversively racist behavior without appearing too sensitive. I do not think I would see in my lifetime a period in history when minorities would not have to deal with racism, but it is my hope that in some point in history there will be change.

  3. I absolutely am able to identify adversive racism more readily since being a part of this class. I think that it is always difficult to speak up when an opportunity presents itself and like Connie has stated to me in class when I asked a similar question; knowing when it’s appropriate (i.e. will be a “learning opportunity”) and when it will be simply a confrontation that can esclate can be a delicate process. I think recognizing when it is happening and learning how to respond in various circumstances is a part of growth. As long as you (we) continue learning and growing I think we are contributing to making the changes necessary within our society. In my opinion, recognizing when and where we have inadvertently participated in aversively racist and/or blatant racist behavior in the past and not repeating the same behaviors in the present and future is tangible evidence of change. My thoughts are that while there is not a cure all pill or a bandage that can be placed on the gaping wounds that racism is and has caused our fellow humans, through learning and personal growth we can help plug some of the holes in the levy.

  4. The more progress we make in this class, the more I find I am noticing other’s acts of aversive racism as well. I am beginning to see the world with an entirely new point of view. The behavior I was completely oblivious to before has become so apparent to me over the course of this semester I can’t help but be a little bit disturbed at how our society actually operates. I had a very similar reaction to our class exercise where we had to point out Connie’s racist attitudes. I was under the same impression that I am changing if I am noticing aversive acts of racism much more. Am I really changing if I had a hard time speaking up against it though? As my knowledge about racism grows I sincerely feel as though I am changing, but how do I know if I truly am?

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