When I started reading an article for this class last week and realized that it was about Hurricane Katrina, I was confused. To be honest, I did not know that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with race. The only negative things that I heard about Katrina (besides, of course, the terrible damage that it did) was that the government took a long time to respond. When I learned about the hurricane in school, the main things that were discussed were what happened, the effects on people, what types of things I can do to prepare myself if I am ever in that type of situation, and how to help. Race was never even mentioned. And, at that point in my life, why should it have been? To me, at that stage, racism was gone, and that wasn’t the issue at hand; the issue was helping people who had lost everything. Now, years later, I know that in almost every situation, race will always be an issue at hand. Unfortunately, it is always an issue.
When we recently read the Johnson et. al article, the main thing I kept thinking about was the OJ Simpson trial. As many of us known, OJ Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and one of her male friends in 1994. There were many factors that made this trial of the most well known and controversial. One one side there was compelling evidence against him including, OJ’s past domestic violence issues with his ex-wife, DNA evidence , accounts told by OJ’s friend Kato Kaelin, and the infamous white Bronco car chase. But there were still issues that raised questions such as no found murder weapon, the lack of finger print evidence and first hand eye witness of the murder, and of course the famous glove that did not fit OJ’s hand. The final verdict ultimately found OJ as not guilty.
Last week, I wrote about how the challenges of this class extend far beyond anything that can be explained on a syllabus, and this week I suppose is more of the same. However, what I’ve been struggling with this week, or rather the past couple of weeks, is the comment Jordan had heard and brought up in class. The specific comment, which I believe she said was made by a fellow student in another one of her classes was something along the lines of “All New Yorkers have the right to hate Arabs because of September eleventh.”
I found this interview very interesting because it shows how Arab Muslims in the United States are the most recent group to be oppressed because of their social identities in a country which has a long history of doing that just that to many different groups. Dr. Bagby insightfully notes that while on paper American Muslims succeed in America, in reality they often face overt racism. He also calls on the American Muslim community to not only be pollitcally active in defending itself but to legitimize these actions by becoming a part of mainstream American society as well.
After learning about modern racism in class a few weeks ago, I have been becoming more an more aware of racism in society. We have learned that modern racism is subtle and usually unconscious from our awareness. Therefore this type of racism is harder to see and become aware of compared to previous forms of overt racism. From what I have learned and observed I feel like a lot of modern racism tends to come not only from our unconscious actions but also from the stereotypes about minorities that are used in society today. I think that a lot of these stereotypes are used as primes and help to reinforce the stereotypes and therefore effect our beliefs and eventually our actions. Recently after talking and learning about all of this stuff, I have found myself watching TV and I cannot believe how prejudice some of the commercials are that are broadcasted.
We are talking about racism in another class I am taking this semester as well as this one. The other day the professor asked us if anyone in the class considered themselves to be racist. I raised my hand because of the Tatum article we all read at the beginning of this class. As soon as I raised my hand I wished I hadn’t. No one else in the class had put their hands in the air (not that I expected them to) but I felt so embarrassed for admitting to them that I was a racist. I tried to explain why and I spoke about the Tatum article so I do not think anyone in the class considered me to be extremely prejudiced but I felt like I allowed twenty-five (0r so) people to see a part of me that I would rather keep hidden.
At home over break, my parents of course wanted to hear about what use I am getting out of their tuition money and the asked me about their classes. I had the most to tell them about this one. For one thing, I have definitely done the most work and learned the most in this class in comparison with my others this semester. I also know that this subject material would be most unfamiliar to my parents and was excited to share everything I had been learning. My parents are both very academically-minded people and were intrigued by the nature of this course.