Racism and White Denial
In Tim Wise’s article he talks about “typical white denial”. He addresses the differences between facts and stereotypes according to race. He does this in a straight forward kind of way by using very blunt and to the point sentences. He then goes on to back up his claim that white denial does exists. He does this by stating reliable experiment results that illustrated Whites negative outlook on Blacks whether they are facts or just simply stereotypes. Even though these negative thoughts about Blacks could have been subconscious or acknowledged, the media soaks it up and portrays Blacks as being poor and drug dealers. However Wise goes on to prove that that is only a stereotype, not a fact. The false portrayal of Blacks is important to be recognized because it buts Blacks down and wipes them from a lot of opportunities they could have, solely based on their skin color.
After reading this article by Tim Wise, it made me remember a specific time in my life when I witnessed someone being racist. It was in my own home, right across the living room from me as I sat on my couch and said nothing. In this moment that I realized two things. I was guilty of white denial, and my mom was racist. My older sister Satchel is 22 years old and attends KU. She had come home one weekend because she had something important she wanted to tell my mom. Satchel had led my mom into the living room where I was already seated. Once they sat down Satchel said, “Mom, I’m dating a black man.” The look on my moms face was a mixture of confusion, anger, and disappointment. She immediately started yelling at my sister and asking what she was thinking, how could she do this to her, she threatened to cut off all money sources they sent to my sister. Satchel broke down in tears. My mom knew nothing about this man that my sister had feelings for. She judged him based on his skin color. She even stated, “We’re better than that, Satchel.” In this moment I realized what my mom was saying was not okay with me, yet I said nothing.
I felt uncomfortable with this topic and wanted to get out as soon as I could. I did not want to confront this topic because my whole life I have just swept racism under the rug because I have never had to deal with it. Everyone around my community and my schools that I attended were white. As I sat there in the midst of the fight with sweaty palms I realized that not saying anything is just as bad as actually saying it, because it implies that you agree with the said statements. My whole life I had thought I was not racist because I had never been mean to a Black person. Because I never came in contact with them, I never had any thoughts about them. When I heard those words come out my sisters mouth I realized that I would never even think to date a black man, because in my eyes, they are not like me. Now that I think about it, there is noting wrong with dating a black man it just never crossed my mind, because they never crossed my path. Judging a person based on their skin tone is wrong. The statement Wise makes on page 95 when he says, “The kind of racism that holds African Americans in low disregard- would be of very little consequence to their ability to succeed; as if people imbued with that kind of bias would be able to fairly evaluate job applicants or students who were members of the presumed defective group” is just how my mom needs to look at who she allows to date her daughters. If she looked solely at their qualities and not their color, that would give everyone an equal opportunity to date my sister, Satchel.
Living in a world with so much technology I feel like it is easy to just say, “Oh the media just blows it out of proportion.” In doing that we are not taking the blame for ourselves. The media picked it up from real life examples and is just making known what we in society like to be kept secret and hidden from the public. That is why I do not understand why Wise went into so much detail about subconscious racism. On the other hand, I think it is hard to blame something else for our own actions that are uncontrollable and out of our ability to change if we are unaware of our actions.
By pretending to be colorblind, you are not helping the issue. You are only making it worse. If you do not talk about it and have those uncomfortable conversations that make you truly realize that deep down everyone is a little bit racist just by thinking they are not, then nothing will ever change. You have to stand up for how you feel and speak your opinion. Thats what I have learned from my personal experience. I could have made it easier on my sister by standing up for her and being on her side, yet I just stayed out because I didn’t know what to think. I never knew what to think and not I have a solid belief that yes, everyone is a bit racist, but when you believe in your values then fight for them. That is the first step. Acting like it is not an issue is not the answer. I don’t think there is any real solution other than time and be a living example for others to follow by.