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This project started by focusing on individual traits and differences, and asking each person to look in the mirror and label themselves. From the beginning, this proved easier for some and harder for others as people strove to find, embrace, or claim their place in the larger world. The first exercise called for some people to make a stand, and say, I am this or that, or critically, I don't fit the mold for this or that because I am me. What's interesting, though, about claiming the right to be "me" is the difficulty in keeping this label while moving through societies that seek out ever wider ways to label and contain its members. Check here if you are this. Join this queue if you belong to this group. For some time, societies around the world have used a host of arbitrary and specific differences to mark people as members of privilege, or to place people outside of the system. To be told that you have no rights to freedom because you do not look, talk, pray, or express yourself like others is oppressive. It also may be motivated by racism. We've talked around this concept without giving it any teeth. I want to give one rather vague definition from Albert Memmi that should help spark some understanding of the term. Remember, though, there are various theories about racism percolating amongst theorists of race, ethnicity, and politics. What Memmi offers is both a narrow and a more expansive understanding of racism that should be accessible for everyone no matter how much schooling or reading you may have done on this topic before.

According to Memmi, "racism in the 'strict' or narrow sense of the term […] makes reference to biological differences for the purposes of subjugation and the establishment of certain privileges and advantages" for one group over another. In this sense, the devalued group is subjugated in order to protect the dominant party. What's key for Memmi is that those who engage in racist behavior, and those who use racist thought as a cultural and social tool, wholeheartedly believe that race is biological. Another interesting scholar recently traced some of the thoughts and beliefs about races from the nineteenth century and showed how all sorts of people believed that race was encoded in the senses. For example, during criminal investigations, people whose houses were robbed stated quite emphatically that the burglar was African American because they could smell the color of the individual. Additional writers and thinkers believed race was something even encoded within the soil, marking places like Africa and even Asia as continents where the traits assigned to the people erupted in the environment. This may sound outlandish to many of us today. Yes, times have surely changed. And yes, people have evolved in their thinking, but questions about race and difference remain hidden in the shadows affecting how some people process information and understand the world around them.

Memmi also gives a more expansive definition of racism that goes even further. He states that "racism is a generalizing definition and valuation of differences, whether real or imaginary." He suggests that there is a purpose to racism. It seeks to justify all kinds of behaviors and strategies that clearly are generalizing value judgments about people based on some category of difference assigned to them as negative racial traits or characteristics.

Okay, that all sounds good, but you may still be wondering what is racism. This is where it gets tricky because it is possible to have racist thoughts, racist philosophies, and racist anxiety underlying attitudes, beliefs, and behavior that may not manifest itself as overt racism. As a result, a person can ride the train and decide to move to another car without causing any alarm, with the underlying motivation being their belief that the different people riding with them all share a negative trait-in this case, perhaps, criminality. And it gets even more difficult to "see" racism because as I have stressed in other places, racialization has taken various different forms around the world at various different times. What may be assumed to be a racially superior group today may in fact have been a racially inferior group in the past.

Although racism may be hard to see, it can be felt. Go back to that moment on the train, for a minute. Now, imagine that one of the supposedly "different" passengers on the train noticed the movements of the passenger who thought no one saw her exit to the next car. Would it be wrong to think that racism was involved? What if the passenger who moved did not tell herself that the other passengers had negative traits, but instead, told herself that she was simply moving to a less crowded train? Would you still consider her motivations racist? And therein lies part of the considerable problem concerning racist ideology. Racist ideology can be so pernicious that it actually starts to rationalize other types of behavior. The woman could tell herself, and even believe that she wants to move to a less crowded train. Unless forced to confront her shadowed thoughts, she could continue to imagine that she does not hold any racist thoughts. She could continue to imagine herself as one of the "good guys" while never having to probe her underlying motivations too carefully.

Of course, it is really possible that this woman simply wanted to be on a less crowded train, but if she even for a second imagined the other people as having negative, inferior traits, something else is at play in her desire to move than simply needing more leg room.

So, what do we do about ideology, thoughts, and beliefs that may be hidden from view? The first thing that I want us to do is probe our thoughts. Memmi suggests that racist thoughts and beliefs are often associated with fear. Fear of change, the unknown, of a changing political or religious landscape, or even just fear that one has lost power or control can be strong motivators for the emergence of racist ideology. It is then through the ideology that fear can be squashed and order maintained to the benefit of the person wielding racism. But something interesting can also happen. Because not everyone experiences fear of change, or fear of strangers, or the need to control the world around them, some people fight against racist ideology. They have heard all sorts of things about people, but they work to not let these thoughts dictate their actions. I want us to get there as a community. But first, I need people to get outside of their comfort zones. We need to probe our thoughts and get real.

How? By placing ourselves in situations where we are the Other. Now, I am sure some of you will claim that this is your existence everyday. If so, then amp it up. In my scholarly work, I study something called intersectionality which looks at the ways race intersects with other things like politics, class, or gender issues. You may need to be in a situation that intersects these issues in order to feel the effects of difference outside of your normal everyday experience. I don't want anyone to feel embarrassed, harassed, or angered; however, I do want people to feel a bit of tension or anxiety, and be surrounded by other people. That is the moment of import here. What is going through your mind during the moment? What is going through your head about the people who surround you? What do you perceive will be their treatment of you? How do you act in response to all this stimuli?

Of course, where you go will be critical to this exercise. I would suggest that you go to religious places of worship, libraries, schools, or even clubs where you can LEARN about others and about yourself. Part of the process here is to start the critical work of unlearning teachings and cultural beliefs that we have simply absorbed into our makeup. The other reason for this exercise is to LISTEN to our own hidden fears rise up and speak. We often tell ourselves things that help us like ourselves. I don't want to scare anyone, or force people into a funk. Instead, I want us to lift up the veil and see truth because I truly believe that until we can do that, we will never learn to fight for a world of social justice and equality. You can do it.
 

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Welcome to the Third exercise of our workshop. Whether you took part in our first exercises or you've decided to join us now - we're glad your here on this exciting journey!

Amy (georgia) will continue to moderate the workshop with me. She will be approving posts during the week and we will try to complete this exercise by the end of August. Please feel free to come to us with any questions or concerns, we're looking forward to getting to know you all better


Before you begin, please take a moment to read the guidelines (quoted below). You will be aloud only one post per exercise - if you make a mistake after you submit it, let georgia or I know and we'll help you out. Also, in this exercise, you will be asked to interview a family member or friend. Please remember to summarize your answers and not post their words.

Gently,

Jacque

Quote:

Racism: a moment of reflection and healing

MotheringDotCommune is pleased to announce Racism: a moment of reflection and healing, an interactive racism workshop for our members, moderators and administrators.

I'd like to introduce our facilitator, Karen Salt. Karen is a Mothering "Ask the Expert," author, doula, childbirth educator, race and diversity consultant, and scholar focusing on race, slavery, gender, and revolution.

This will be an interactive monthly workshop that will last approximately 6 months. We have organized the workshop by setting up a moderated forum called Racism: a moment of reflection and healing. At this time, only the facilitators and administrators will be able to start threads and all posts will be moderated. Our moderator georgia has generously offered to assist.

Each month we will present an exercise to the community. An opening statement will be made along with an outline of the exercise. We may also record a pod cast to compliment the monthly topic. Karen Salt will summarize and comment at the end of each workshop, then submit the next exercise.

The exercise will remain open to posting for three weeks. Members' posts will be reviewed and approved by the moderator once a week until the exercise is complete.

The posting guidelines will be:
  • Only one post per member, per exercise
    • You may edit your post after it has been approved
    • Additional posts will be deleted without notice
  • Please do not start threads in this forum; they will also be deleted without notice
  • Members' posts must respect our current user agreement
    • The moderator may ask for edits if posts are not in compliance with our current user agreement
  • We will not allow threads/discussions discussing the workshop elsewhere on the boards, as this should be a time of reflection and healing. Side conversations would be counterproductive.
  • Do not quote or discuss members' responses to the workshop within the exercise or elsewhere on the boards. The purpose of the workshop is to look inward and reflect on your personal experience
  • Please do not copy any part of this workshop on MDC or elsewhere on the web
Please see the resources stickie if you would like to do further independent study. These resources are being compiled from member contributions and outside sources. They do not reflect a specific tone on the workshop; they are simply suggestions. If you have a resource you would like added, please email it to Jacque Savageau at [email protected]

We would also like to make a call for action to our members and challenge you to find examples of programs within your own communities committed to making a difference in racism awareness. These would be programs that put a positive spin on combating racism and show how small steps made can make a big difference. Please use this time for positive action and consider making a pledge to live in a world that does not let racism or other power dynamics rule your life.

The workshop is very organic and we're hoping to learn as we go and make adjustments as needed to suit the needs of our community. We're excited to see where it takes us as an online Natural Family Living community and we look forward to getting to know everyone better.
 

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***"How? By placing ourselves in situations where we are the Other. Now, I am sure some of you will claim that this is your existence everyday. If so, then amp it up."

Last summer I went to Brooklyn with my husband. (Funny how some of my most foreign experiences are in my home country!)

DH dresses like a European, meaning, you can pick him out as someone who is not from the U.S. I dress like someone from the West Coast. We were almost the only non-black people in the neighbourhood. I'd never been in a majority black area before.

"What is going through your mind during the moment?"

So this is what they mean when they talk about the ghetto. The mall doesn't even have an ATM machine!!! The banks have guards outside! The sidewalks are as dirty as those in the outskirts of Moscow. How awful. It's really shocking that there aren't more race riots in this country, it really is.

Everyone is black- they must know we are tourists, though. I wonder if they think we are lost. Oh, my god, jeans for $5. DH buys 15 pairs, one for each of his brothers, cousins, etc. Hey... why is she stapling that other guy's bag shut? So he can't put anything else in there? They used to do that in Russia when they first started open stores.

Why didn't she staple ours shut? Could it be because we are not black? But she is black. Oh, my God.

"What is going through your head about the people who surround you?"

I wonder if this is how black people from New York feel when they come to Seattle. So this is what it's like where all the black people live. This isn't scary like our racist landlord said it would be. Thank God they aren't staring at us.

"What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?"

Nobody's staring. That's good. I guess they see light people all the time. I hope DH doesn't say anything politically incorrect a la Borat. I'm squatting South Asia style with my baby on my knee as she nurses and nobody's looking. Good. This is nice. Very accepting people.

"How do you act in response to all this stimuli?"

At first: be on my guard. Try to be extra polite- I automatically go into guest mode. Speak Russian with DH so that they know we are tourists. Though, in New York, not all native Russian speakers are tourists. Anyway- defend against possible stereotypes by retreating into an exotic persona that cannot easily be defined by the majority group. Later we got more comfortable.

Except for my outrage about the lack of air conditioning in the mall and the lack of ATMs. What a crock. Approximately the same feeling as I get when watching documentaries about the wall in Palestine. It's just outrageous.

Edited to add:

When I reflect back on this, I realize that my emotions are a mix of wonder at another culture and the conditions which my compatriates live under, sympathy, fear of being the outsider- or maybe no, fear at being perceived as part of an oppressive culture even though I myself do not identify as an oppressor, but who gives a flying fart about whom I "identify" as?

I realize that for all I've learned about civil rights, I am still ultimately complicit in what is no less than an apartheid. No, I'm not white, but in my Banana Republic jeans , Eddie Bauer fleece and New Balance white sneakers, with my white-as-can-be speech patterns straight from Seattle, Washington, well... might as well be.

Ultimately my focus is on myself. How will they perceive me? I don't expect to be accepted as belonging, but will I be accepted as a guest, or an oppressor? Will I be ignored?

Thinking back I realize that though it's a majority black area, they must see tons of different coloured people every day. I mean they don't all work there, after all. I probably didn't stick out as much as I felt. DH is tall and full of childish wonder at our ghettos (and by ghetto I mean segregated area, not poor area) and I think I somehow feel that black people must sense this, though that is unrealistic.

The power balance between whites and non-whites here has affected everything. If blacks were just another group, like the French, it would be different.
 

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"How? The area in which I live is predominately White, so there are many situations where I am the only Black woman in the environment. I don't really think about it anymore because it is so prevalent in my life. I know that this is still the South and some areas of Georgia, I honestly believe they forgot to turn the clock forward from the Jim Crow Era. More than anything, I want to project confidence in ANY environment for the sake of my sons. I don't want them to feel self-conscious.

"What is going through your mind during the moment?"
When I am with my children, White women compliment me on them as if they are prized animals. They are biracial(DH is of English/Polish descent) I never see them do this with Black children. I don't want them objectified, they are smart and they have personalities too.

"What is going through your head about the people who surround you?"
I wonder if they see me as a "Non-threatening" Black person? Because I don't "Speak" Black or don't fit the stereotype.

"What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?"
The "Token" Black woman who "isn't like the others". I'm supposedly the "Reasonable one" who "doesn't seem to have a chip on their shoulder." I've heard these statements from White people in my past. It's annoying.

"How do you act in response to all this stimuli?"
I try to talk myself out of it and say that maybe I'm paranoid. My husband is privy to conversations that White people have when Black people are not around and they don't know that his wife is Black. He thinks that White people have learned to hide their racist feelings well. This sometimes makes me wonder what White people really think of me, but then I think my only responsibility is to live my life and be a good human being/wife/mother/daughter and what strangers think of me is irrelevant. It's not my responsibility to change a White person's opinion about Black people. People choose to be racist and prejudiced.
 

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"How? By placing ourselves in situations where we are the Other. Now, I am sure some of you will claim that this is your existence everyday. If so, then amp it up."

Well I am the other on a daily basis in my apartment building. There are three Caucasian families in this building and the rest are of Hispanic descent. I grew up in a very diverse community so being in a place where I am shall we say the other, really is the norm for me. I am not quite sure how to amp it up since this feels the same as when I was a child growing up. The area of the country where I live is predominately Caucasian and farm country. So I suppose being in a situation where I am surrounded by another race would make me the other here in my building. The downtown is gradually changing to a predominately Hispanic Neighborhood with one side of two and 1/2 city blocks is all hispanic shops.

Last May~on the weekend of the 5th to be precise; our town had a Cinco De Mayo Festival downtown. I have to go through downtown for errands on the weekends frequently.

"What is going through your mind during the moment?"
I am upset at the fact that the roads were not designated closed yet they felt the need to block traffic. I am upset that the Mexcian flag is placed to fly higher than the American flag on the posts lining the streets of downtown(especially near the VFW and the lodge).
As I slow my car down to look at the festivites, I wonder why all the little girls are dressed as they are going to prom. I also stare in curiosity at why they are letting their children run free and unattended along a busy, non-monitored open highway lined with cars. Now the children unattended thing also happens a lot in my apartment building I realize. My neighbors let their kids roam free in the halls and along the street(which is quite busy throughout the day). Then I am thinking, why is it that they act so superior to me when I am in their presence?

"What is going through your head about the people who surround you?"
Wow, they must really have nice jobs to be able to afford such nice dresses for their girls for one such day. Then its, OMG! That kid just ran out in front of an oncoming vehicle and no one even flinched.....When I am home~The people in the back are very nice, they cant understand me much but they are just soo polite. Totally night and day from the Hispanics upstairs, wow they are just rude, travel in packs, dont clean up after themselves, dont watch their kids(leaving them unattended for long periods of time)~the people in the back must have been here in this country longer, they seem to have better manners and understanding that they are not superior over me.

"What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?"
Downtown last May, I was afraid to get out of the car and go see what smelled so good at the bakery. There were stares, I didnt feel comfortable when I slowed to try and park as all the people were looking at me. They must be thinking that I am strange coming down here and infringing on their holiday. I was thinking that I would be followed by a few children lookng at me and my baby in awe as to why we were there.
At home I am afraid to go in the hallway, for fear that the rude Hispanics will approach me in a group to try and intimidate me. Although I breathe easier when the back neighbors are the ones doing laundary not the other neighbors.

"How do you act in response to all this stimuli?"
Well last may, I didnt bother to stop and get a treat at the bakery. I kept driving. I felt REALLY out numbered. DP wouldnt even go downtown with me. Mentioning that he stays away from that part of town during that fest.
At home, I really dont go out in the hall. I check the peep hole before I open my door. I watch to see when people upstairs leave, then check for their cars front and back.

Things just started to get very uncomfortable when the management started to rent to anyone rude or nice, dirty or clean, and everyone who has moved in has been Hispanic.....I am more worried about the mean, rude and dirty people rather then them being Hispanic.

I am very comfortable with the neighbors in the back of the building, just cause they are polite and respectful. The rest are just not nice all together. I wouldnt care if they were polite and didnt act as if they can do as they please without consequence to others and as if they were superior to me. I am just uncomfortable around people who are intimidating to me.
 

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Well since I joined last night I didn't get to reply to the other two, but I can & will reply to this one. I can be bluntly honest so hold on & bare with me

I am a minority, I live in a predominantly white (small) city. But I live downtown close to the University so my kids school isn't predominantly anything (that's why I live here so they can go to that school)

I am half Lakota & half French, My husband is half Mohawk & half Irish but we identify with our Native half, all our friends are Native (or married in), we follow our Native beliefs & live that life. I grew up in a racist environment being adopted by White couple who wanted to assimilate me so I wouldn't go to hell. I don't have much to do with them & in truth havn't had much to do with anyone outside of my cultural community (beyond shopping or taking the kids to school) since I finished highschool but that all changed recently when I went to work in a building with 800 people (I stayed at home till the youngest was in school) I felt LOST! out of place & for 4 months I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't know what to say to any of them & yep, they were a them to me. There are a few other Natives there I have made fiends with & I even talk to others. SO I have to think why? If I am walking down the street, they are just people passing by, I can ignore them if they ignore me. It's a coping strategy I guess. But sitting beside a large group of other people all day, 4 nights a week. Man that's different. At first I just went into my own world & worked. Later I listened to them talk. I had nothing to interject. They didn't share the same interests or do the same stuff, their were 2 Moms but they were party Moms, my idea of a party is a 49er dance & they don't know what that is, but it's not their kind of party. I was real lonely & hey they didn't talk to me either. Luckly I was on a new team 4 months later. This one had 2 Native Woman & I started talking, but just to them. They were friends with other people there and I started talking to these Woman too, not much at first but slowly more. Still to be honest I don't have a lot to say & don't know them real well but it made me think. I wondered if my isolated life was flawed. I have decided not entirely, everyone makes friends with those that they have things in common with. I do have a few friends of other backgrounds (people who are married to Native people) but we live similar lives. I don't dislike people of other cultures, I don't think my way is better, but I know it is better for me. I don't want to make other people be like Native people because I belive that when you live your culture you honour your ancestors & creation. I do have racial fear, I admit that, I large white Man in an elevator with me will scare the you know what out of me. I do hate the governments of the Americas for what they are doing to our people still & I do blame dominant society for not making a change in the way they run their governments. I do have unpleasant views of the dominant culture at times. But Ironically that is why I'm here. My expierence in going to work this year made me look for a board like this where I would have something in common with many other Woman despite their cultural background And then I found this thread talking about the very thing I'm trying to be comfortable expierencing. Do I think my social circle will change? No. Do I think it will ease racial fear? No. What is the benifit? Small stuff, like being comfortable & finding other similarities,, I think that's important. Because I can sit in a coffee shop & strike up a conversation with another minority but not with someone from the dominant culture & this is a change I would like to be comfortable making. I know there are people in my community who don't isolate themselves culturally like I have, but there are also plenty who do, like my closest freinds.

So I hope you all followed this & can respect my honesty on the matter. Oh and I hope I understood the concept of the exersize properly, it just sounded so much like what I'm going through in my life right now.
 

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By placing ourselves in situtions where we are the Other.
Last year, after happily discovering that my DH is Native American (the culture and everything NDN has always been a passion of mine...now my children were part of this great nation!), well, we as a family went to the Baltimore American Indian Powwow. I was so excited about it I totally blew off visiting family for the day to go to the all day event. It was horribly hot and threatening rain, however it was really fun and interesting. I had never been to anything like it. I didn't really feel like an other the whole ride there until I walked in the gates. I don't know why either, because I had been reading up on NDN issues and history (before unknown to me because of public school 'education') so I thought I was well versed and knew what to expect. But all of a sudden, I felt odd. Out of place. I was still excited and liked everything...but all of a sudden I felt like a tourist. An outsider looking in.

What is going through your mind during the moment?
I shook off the feeling many times because I don't accept such feelings in myself. I grew up around racism, but I don't and will not allow that type of behavior or thought pattern in me, so I just pushed it aside as nervousness about not knowing enough about the culture as I thought I did, and well, that was the reason I was there. To learn more! I watched the dancers and was intoxicated by the rhythm. I decided to accept the fact that we were uneducated, but that didn't mean that we (I) should be alarmed or on edge. This was a once a year deal and I should absorb as much as possible (before DH starts to melt in the heat!)

What is going through your head about the people who surround you? What do you perceive will be their treatment of you? How do you act in response to all this stimuli?
I was in a good mindset when it happened. I am still ashamed and frustrated by my reaction to this day (and this was last year that it happened). I went into a vendors tent, looked at some books and was interested in purchasing a few NDN children's books. There were no prices, so I had to find the vendor to ask. There was a caucasian woman with long flowy blond hair. She looked like Mother Earth reincarnated! I thought the store was hers. I started to ask her how much and she motioned to a man sitting down next to her. He was totally what you would expect an NDN (Indian) to look like in the face. Very strong features. I was startled by my reaction - I was scared! Me?!??!?! WHY!??!?! Then he stood up, and he was WAY taller than I had expected. I could barely speak! I felt like I had walked into a different dimension. Like I said, I am still confused and frustrated and embarrassed by my reaction. I hope that it didn't show on my face, but he did look a little pissed off at me. Maybe it was my fear seeing it, but I so wanted to run...and now want to apologize.

I have since then read more, learned more, and more importantly, met and have become friends with more NDN people. I understand their mindset so much better than I thought I had. I was only learning of things in the past. Now I am involved with the issues and people of today. It doesn't matter your percentage of Indian Blood... that is the US governments way of controlling and thus killing the Red race. Besides, all NDNs feel as if there is only one race - Human. We are all of the same blood. We are all of the same Mother, the same Father, and we are all related. I hope that we get to go to Powwow this year, and that I can feel the change in my reaction. I now know that it was a deep ingrained reaction that broke out of me that day - something I was taught in public school in Michigan - where they taught us racist school songs about killing Indians, praising the day that they would all be dead. I felt it was wrong then, and I didn't sing them...but somehow they got something into me...something that came out that day at the Powwow! I have never felt "other" or the need to be fearful until that day...and people don't deserve to be treated that way. I just didn't know that that was in me, or that is something that I would feel!

I want my children to be free and clear of that. But How?!?!? I think that is the next question to be asked...
 

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Greetings, everyone...

I wanted to take a few moments to provide everyone with a few additional instructions regarding this exercise. Some of this information will be repeated in an upcoming podcast on this issue. I've included them here, though, in order to continue to encourage everyone to work hard on this very critical and serious issue.

So, in no apparent order:

1) Continue to ask tough questions of yourself

This is hard. I understand. But I need you to not just say or think things, but to criticize and analyze your thoughts, and more importantly, to figure out where your ideas are coming from.

The main point of this exercise is not to look at others and wonder about them, but to look at ourselves and try and figure out where our own internal warnings and fears are coming from. We are products of so much confusion that it is essential that we try and weed away this (dis)information and try and get to the heart of the matter. Remember, you may be engaging with other communities, but this exercise is still about you and your own thoughts.

2) Learn and listen

It's easy to pass judgment on others, but it's harder to put one's self in the position of learner. In order for you to learn, you need to place yourself in situations where you can gather and obtain information. Learning that occurs from a distance won't help you. In my podcast, I also suggest that people avoid going to places that are dangerous, or simply driving by or through communities that reflect the diversity of this country (or your own). The places that I am encouraging you to visit include: libraries, community centers, specific festivals, religious institutions, musical events, or even cultural performances. You have to immerse yourself in these spaces in order to truly listen and learn about others. It's not fair if you do this from afar, or if you never learn about the other people that live within your community, or a neighboring location. The next thing to do is listen. In order to listen, you may have to ask questions, or simply be receptive to information.

If you cannot find a cultural venue in your community, consider the internet. There are a number of sites devoted to specific organizations or issues. Be aware, though, that this exercise will be more successful if you actually take the time to immerse yourself, take it all in, and....

3) Reflect, reflect, and reflect

I know that this point is covered above, but I would like to just reiterate it again. Remember, this exercise is about how to learn, listen, reflect, and discover some of the truths about ourselves. That can only happen if everyone takes the time to dig deep and trudge through potentially discomforting thoughts and feelings.

We may have a ways to go before we can look around us and appreciate the diverse people that surround us without animosity, insecurity, or suspicion. This too may be the case in your country or commmunity as well. But I, for one, would like to live in a world where I am not pre-judged because of the color of my skin, the texture of my hair, my accent, my spiritual beliefs, or my street address. I would also like to live in a world where joy pervades. In many ways, this may sound wishful and overly optimistic. However, I am hopeful not just for me, but for my children and yours.
 

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Hi, everyone


We are each allowed only one post per exercise per the Workshop Guidelines, so if after reading Karen's follow-up post above, if anyone who has already participated would like to edit their post, please PM me. I'm always happy to help


Thanks so much!
 

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I just read the exercises tonight and this is the only one left open so here it goes....

I'm viewed as caucasian, some people recognize my italian heritage but yeah, I'm white. I'm also 1st generation American and that has had the biggest influence on how i identify myself and w/ whom i most easily identify.

That being said, reading this exercise i immediately remember my first time in NYC. I was in my early 20's going there to visit a friend. He is dominican but most people assume he is light-skinned black. he lives in Harlem, 125 & Lenox, i took the 't' there by myself. now i'm the type of person who is hyper aware of my thoughts/judgements towards other people, when i see/am close to, or walking down the other side of the street from, a person of color, or a person of obvious religous belief (noted through their clothing), or some-one who seems really down-trodden (homeless, seriously drugged, etc.) I make sure to look them in the eye, smile sincerely, and give some sort of greeting, hoping to send a message that i'm not scared, i see you, we're not that different. that is not to say that my 'shadow' voices are quiet, if they were, then these actions would come more naturally and not be noted by my conscious.

So i'm on my way to Harlem, i'm excited and nervous. i'm nervous about what they'll think of me, i'm scared of seeing someone get shot, i'm wondering if Damon (my friend) will be embarassed to walk down the street w/ me, but still i'm excited and comforted to know that i'll be w/ somebody from there (makes a HUGE difference) almost proud of myself for going (sounds ridiculous but it was true at the time)

I get off the subway and BAM it hits me, brown skin everywhere, kids, people everywhere, music being played on the sidewalk, pouring out of the cars, it was beautiful! I immediately felt like i was in a foreign country, whoa, this is new york city, but from my experience in Italy in a very small town, this was the same sort of feeling. everyone atleast loosely bound by a deep culture. that's why it felt like a foreign country...culture, strong energy, wow.

so we proceed to Damon's apartment, a one bedroom that he shares w/ his mother, they live on the very top floor of a huge building, he gives me a beer, we share a smoke and proceed out onto the balcony. as i'm sitting there it hits me again, BAM, so this is what it feels like, for the first time in my life i am the 'only one'. i sat w/ that thought for maybe an hour up there. i really wanted it to soak in, to never forget. Damon tells me we're going to go down stairs and get some chinese food, i ask him if i should go, he's like 'yeah, just don't say anything stupid', he's joking i think.

as we go i start to come out of my culture shock and as much as i just want to be there, w/o thought of my skin color, it's impossible. i have my head up and smile hoping that they think i'm 'alright' or should i say 'all right'.

when we go back and are eating, i tell Damon how i was nervous and how happy i am to see so many people out in the streets livin, like really living.
he tells me how just last week someone got shot right outside the front door of his building, he saw it from his balcony. no joke.

Wow, i didn't expect to write that much. it was 9 years ago, i guess it did really sink in because my memory of it is quite clear.

I just have to add that soon after we moved to CT we purposely took a drive through Bloomfield, knowing that it is a predominantly black suburb. it was a sunny day, plenty of people were out washing their cars, manicuring their lawns, riding bikes and what not. i still can't put words those feelings. it seemed kind of Truman Showish to me, i know i'm not comfortanle w/ that feeling and i've been meaning to go back. take the kids to story time, sit at the local cafe, get some groceries, i don't know. will i have the feelings i had in Harlem, how much does social status make a difference or does it at all?
 

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By placing ourselves in situtions where we are the Other.

Since I came to Germany in 1999 for an exchange program to learn German on the Uni in Lueneburg, I have missed the American Racial diversity i was used to in Austin, Texas, my home town. I am as White as they come I guess. I am proud to be from Austin because of the typical racism all over Texas that is not so present in the liberal, at times exotic capital (home of Whole Foods and a university town). My family is White and at times can be subtly racial. I, too, have the illusion that I am not racist, but when I am in the states and I see Black person I stare. I feel awkward around people of African descent because I don't know how thtey perceive me. Maybe because i miss the sheer Color being here in Germany. There are a lot of Turkish immigrants and Turkish families who are German citizens, having been here for generations. But Black people here are from Ghana or the former Kongo - they have a whole different background of experienced racism and culture, which i can only ponder and wonder at. When people (Germans and Turkish) hear that I am American, there is a sense of respect; when they here that I am from Texas, they raise their eyebrows and say Oh. Sometimes they comment about George W. but mostly its a silent reprimanding look.
I look norther European (swedisch or danish or whathaveyou), but when I open my mouth, people know i'm not from here, although some don't get it until about 20 min into the conversation (my German isn't taht bad since i studied here and got my teaching degree).
In high school I tried to come to grips with racism - at my HS there was unspoken segregation - i made a few friends who where Black, but they seemed to think I was maybe pitying them or maybe they sensed my hesitation or my own nervousness. It so dang complicated!

What is going through your mind during the moment?

I feel guilty in general being White and an American. Germans have been forced to face their past and the educated people here feel the burden of being German. Of course there are idiots who still think the whites are better and it is VERY disturbing when the neonazis make their presence known. It is a shame and i am very afraid of that. Especially because I don't want my daughter (3 months) to grow up getting influenced by them.

What is going through your head about the people who surround you? What do you perceive will be their treatment of you? How do you act in response to all this stimuli?

I want my dd to know that there are different cultures and different colors and that we are all humans. I want her to know other cultures besides German and American adn appreciate them and actually experience being around other cultures, languages and people. Good people who have the same views as we do.
i am sorry i don't live in a country with a lighter view of race, but then again Germans have actually faced their past, unlike most Americans who
say I'm not racist and leave it at that. The nation view point is ok, that's history, why make a big deal of it now.
I hope to someday be able to see all colors, religions and ethnicities being ok together, but we humans are so selfish and self-honoring that i think it can only be achieved by practical and pointed experiences and reflection.

I hope I have doen the workshop correctly - it's hard concentrating with a little baby around

A few years ago i did a big research paper on Ebonics or Black Talk and the socio-culutral aspects of it - it opened my mind in a lot of ways and raised many important issues of when to make a big deal of race and who you talk and when not to and what the consequences are for both Blacks and Whites. I am trying to keep thinking of those things and apply the thoughts to the German-Turkish situation here - it's the same pattern as in the states- I'm a school teacher and my dream is to just be able to teach kids about beign together with a focus on being able to talk to each other. Language is the key, i think, to showing and sharing culture.
 

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I am glad the exercise is still open... I was at a loss as to where to start or how to relate to this one...

As I described before, I appear to be white, and am treated as a white person. But due to a somewhat exotic nose and a slight olive cast to my skin, I have blended in with Persian, Greek, Eastern Euro, and Jewish groups, and have had folks from those (as well as other) groups theorize that I'm half them when I tell them my mother was artificially inseminated so I don't know what most of my ethnicity is.

I suffer from envy, a lot... envying people with obvious or overt cultural background, their beauty, their identity... envying their ability to relate to or identify with a whole population of people and the history that goes with that people... I feel like an "Other" most of the time, and I suspect that the vast majority of people do, especially women, because our skin and our racial background aren't the only things, there's just being a woman, in this world... But that's a whole other Workshop, right?!

I have travelled 11 countries, mostly Europe and Central America. Did you know that there are people that think Central America is the Mid West?? Lol!! As a Baha'i, I'm around folks from the Middle East a lot.

There is so much history and bad old blood between the whites in America and the blacks, the Native Americans, the immigrant population from Central America... The meer fact that so many people claim the percentages (down to 8ths or 16ths??) of their lineage is a reflection of humanity's general obsession with pedigree... it's so weird to not be able to join that discussion, which is such a basically typical one to have. I used to make stuff up, just to explain my nose, or my skin.

So I recently went to a poetry night in appreciation of women. The invitation read that it was at a coffee house in the North part of town which has a largely black population... but I used to live over there, so I didn't even think about that... I just went... and WOW... It blew my mind.

I was the salt in the pepper shaker. That's how I felt. I walked in, my Cambodian dh and dd trailing behind me. There were 2 other men, and about 30 women, 2 other toddlers. Everyone I saw was black. And the looks... oh my. The looks (which always make me feel doubly weird cuz I don't have a history to claim or a people to fall back on, and I just don't identify with American Whiteness...) were loud and proud, "Well, hello, White Girl... and what brings you here today?" I felt very tolerated. Is this how they feel? Around whites?? This is awkward, I thought... but I felt like I had every right to be there, as a woman, and as a writer, so I just took a deep breath and smiled my dorky smile at everyone and sat down.

"What am I doing here? I don't belong here! Are they irritated that I'm here? They're words and writing and the things they are saying are so profound... what can I possibly bring to the table??" Dh just looked at me, seeking some sign of what to do... raised by a white Jewish family, he felt as out of place as I did, despite his brown skin... Only dd was unphased. Dd ran around the room, and played with the other two toddlers, clapped for the speakers, and was totally oblivious to any difference.

A gorgeous jet black woman had just finished a strong and powerful piece about her music and her strength in the face of adversity... that adversity being black in a white town... all the while looking at me. I looked around me at the other women, when the woman I later came to find out was the hostess of the event, leveled me with a strong look and a smile saying, "You're next." I almost fell off my chair. I gulped and said softly, "I didn't come with anything prepared..." I honestly had only come to watch and enjoy the poetry... I didn't sign on for any of what I was experiencing thus far... and it just made me feel awful, that the collective experiences of these women would bring them to look upon me with such open disdain... I felt like I was being dared to get up and speak... And then this little waify pale white girl who'd been in the back got up... "Where did SHE come from??" I thought. And then she did a Maya Angelou piece, and it just sounded trite and contrived coming from her... like she was faking it. And I was embarassed for her. And a bit ashamed of her... like "Girl, why are you trying to have that as your piece, here?? Why not your own?? Or someone less renowned??" It felt like a total cliche! They all looked at me... "It doesn't have to be something prepared," the hostess said to me gently.

Then dd climbed up on the podium. And tried to speak into the mic. I was beside myself... but a number of the ladies reassurred me. "Let her speak if she wants to speak..." they said... so I stood behind her to make sure she didn't fall off her chair and she said a Baha'i children's prayer... "Oh God, guide me and protect me. Make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou are the mighty and powerful. Abdu'l'baha." She hopped down blithely to their applause and I was undone... my 2 year old just showed me up. My 2 year old was fearless and joyful... because she wasn't thinking it to death... and I realized, "That's what I'm doing... that's what I do... I and all of us... we are all thinking it to death. We are so afraid... so skeptical... burned by years of thinking it to death and being thought wrongly of..." I was so proud of her. Proud to be her mom. And they were joyfully receiving her, and me, too... and it was lovely.

I thumbed through a few books they had there, and found the perfect piece for me to read... "The Insurgent"..... About a man who wanted to be accepted and trusted but wasn't because he was black... but when he went to Iraq in the Gulf War, he was accepted and trusted as a soldier. And when he came home, and was no longer a soldier, he was further rebuked not just for being black, but also for having been a killer. And he was sad, for he felt that no one saw the Man that he was... until his child loved him as a Dad. And via the shield of his child's love, he experienced life, again, as a Man, and not just as a Black, or a Soldier... and people trusted him, because his child lead the way.

I think they will if we let them... our children will lead the way. We were supposed to. When we were children. We were told we will lead the way... but all that history and bad blood is a lot. It's tough to shield oursleves and our faith and trust in others from all that stuff we didn't actually have a part in.

I'm tired. Tired of having no identity to speak of when the questions come: What are you? What is your child? Tired of people looking at me like that, like I'm a 'bad guy'... What would happen if we wore the way we feel or think on our skin? What would our world be like if THAT's who we were perceived as rather than our color? What would those women have thought if they could see how intimidated I was, and how humble I felt? I'm tired of hearing how suspiscious people are of their neighbors, or the people who ask them about their heritage... It's all so old and tiresome. I wish for newness... new perception, joy and fearlessness.

I want to go to the next poetry night, knowing those ladies will remember me and welcome me back. Will they? I hope so. I haven't gone back in 5 months, but I will get up the nerve to go again, and maybe there will be happy welcoming faces; other beautiful strong women, welcoming me as one of them.
 

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I have always been sensitive to the issues of racism in this country. I am also aware of many issues all over the world. How blacks are percieved seems to be the worst of racism. I am what many people call "biracial" with German mother and a black father. I always grew up as a black American. I always percieved myself as a black American. I am not insensitive to others' ethnocentricity as well. However, I still realize that blacks in this country have the struggle for credibility even though it has been proven over and over again.

I have two sisters who were raised in the suberbs and not around many if any blacks at all. There perception of racism in this country is quite skewed and it baffles me how they seemed get "around" dealing with being black in America. It even divides us as a family because due to their mother (my stepmother who raised me since the age of eight so she is really considered my mother as well....) not wanting them to be Afrocentric at all.

My father does not care either due to him being able to avoid racism economically. One of my sisters has two children going on three born with a white father and they do not look like they have any black features so they will be raised as white. We should not be in a box, but it is hard for me to accept siding with the oppressor. If you want to raise your children one way that is one thing but to completely ignore our culture as black people I think is insulting.

At any rate, even though I love all races of people I still acknowledge that Afrocentric culture is real to me and something that should not be diluted and go extinct to preserve anyone else's culture.
 

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I didn't know if I was going to participate in this forum or not, but after reading all the exercises and answers I feel compelled.

I moved permanently to the South after being raised in metro California, living for a short time in New York City, going to school in New Orleans, and having spent significant time in Switzerland and some other countries overseas. I was raised in a community where "minority" meant hispanic. They were bussed in from border towns mostly and tended to self-segregate and speak only spanish when not in class and tended to avoid extracurricular activites or clubs so my school interaction was rather limited. I worked side by side with many in my years as a waitress and my mother had a series of mexican women, all from the same family, who came on day visas to work and would help my mother clean the house once a week.

My interaction with blacks growing up was pretty limited. (Side note: my best friend in college was from Trinidad and got very annoyed with people labeling him as African American on asumption and so schooled me to stay away from the label unless I knew with certainty the origin of the person I was "labeling"). In my high school of 2500 there were probably fewer than 10 blacks. I have thre cousins who are mixed (Black father, Jewish/European mother) and they were the basic extent of black influence on my younger life - but really... half black jewish girls are not really the norm when it comes to black culture in America.

What all this babbling is getting me to is graduate school. I moved to the South to go to grad school and ended up staying. It was a private school and about 1/5 of the student body was black. I was never keen on checking the "race" box on applications or questionaires and had skipped it on my grad school application as well. Since they didn't know what I was and couldn't pigeon hole me by my own declaration (which I just hate anyway - talk about institutional segregation) I received everything in the way of orientation materials. I got a letter from the head of the hispanic student society, the asian american society...and then something caught my eye. It was an invitation to attend "Minority Orientation" And I thought to myself "what the heck IS this?" I know I'm in the South and they're all supposed to be steroetypical white oppressors still trying to hold the black man down post Civil War but why is there a minority orientation? Do they think minorities are dumb and need addittional orienting since this is an extra week of preparation on top of regular orientation. I both intrigued me and pissed me off - so I decided to attend.

When I walked into the room it was me (the only white girl, more specifically eastern European mutt), 20 or so black first years and one half Japanese boy. The Japanese boy didn't come back the second day. It was really odd. The students were very nice and we all got on well. The teachers participating were all black and all seemed a bit startled by me down there in the front row. It was sort of an unsettling feeling. There was this one teacher who came in and began talking about "relations" with other students and when he realized i was there his focus and intention changed dramatically. I was caught off guard. What would he have said had he not noticed me? What could he possibly have intended to say that needed to be quelched because there was an "other" in the room.

In the end, it was a week of the exact same information that was then rehashed in regular orientation. I was a little annoyed because it still implied that either the minorities needed to hear it twice or some person up the food chain felt the minority students needed something "just for them" kinda like the Miss black America pageant even though there's still an integrated Miss America pageant that has certainly seen its share of minority winners. I just didn't get it. If we are supposed to be moving towards embracing all races without distinction (especially in the face of so much intermixing already which makes any line very difficult to draw) then why self segregate at all.

Despite my general thoughts on the whole thing, these were the students whith whom I had spent more time than any others by the end of the first two weeks of school so I joined the Black students association. I had made many friends for whom race was not an issue - but I had been talked down to in an almost bible-thumping sort of way by a few minorities who thought I was out of place and totally ignorant to the plight.

In the end, or by midyear I should say, I had developed close friends who were not minorities as well and several of my black friends chose not to hang out with me if it was in predominantly white groups. It was very odd for me to see. I really wanted to learn more about the racial tensions in the South and in general since it was all such a foreign thing to me. What I ended up with was no one really wanting to talk about it - they just wanted to go on the way they were. For those who wanted me to be an appologist just because of the color of my skin, they were angred by my innocence and my reluctance. They called me ignorant. However, I feel there is a very big differnce between ignornace and innocence when it comes to these things. I would rather try to mend a bridge with an innocent anyone than and ignorant person.

I believe that it is not necessary for me to tell you the sufferings of my culture or my family at the hands of communism or Nazis in order to be someone's friend, contemporary, and equal. My racial, familial or personal history does not change my relationship with those around me just as anyone else's should not change their relationships or ability to interact with the world. Perhaps I am naive, an idealist, I don't know. But the concept of a racial divide seems like it is given additional fuel and life just by talking about it and rehashing it instead of spending that some energy on just being good to eachother. Please call me an idealist and not ignorant if you must.
 

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How?
October 2006, I moved with my fiance (now my husband) to his country, The British Virgin Islands. My Father and his family came from Poland, My Mother is a more typical American, German Irish French and Cherokee mix.

My husband is African-Caribbean with a possible mix of Carib or Arawak Indian and some European as well. But in the US where we met at college, he was 'black' and I was 'white'.

Now I live here where it is 80-90% British Virgin Islanders who have lived here since the 1700 and 1800s, 10-15% mix of Guyanese, Dominican Republic and other caribbean islanders, maybe 5% 'european' looking people, very few of which are from America. I am 6 months pregnant with our first child.

I feel more comfortable going to the shop by myself during the day, I look like another tourist. it is when my husband and I do errands together that I really feel like an outsider.

What is going through your mind during the moment?
Usually thinking about our grocery list, if I will ever be able to know which store has the best deals on which products. Everything is so expensive compared to the US! Guess that is the price you pay to live on such a beautiful island.

What is going through your head about the people who surround you?
I wish they wouldn't stare at me so hard. Why don't they stare at me when I shop by myself? If it is my husband that makes the difference, why don't they stare at him? Maybe they are just looking at my belly.

What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?
I always have a smile for people and they either pause and then smile back and look away real quick or sometimes I am ignored all together once I smile and say good afternoon. I have stopped having a perception of how people will act although I have found that the Guyanese women are very friendly to me and I feel it is because they know how I am treated- also being here married to BVI men.

How do you act in response to all this stimuli?
I don't always act like myself- I put on a mask- a shell almost. i do not feel free to be myself. I think I act timid and quiet. I wonder if I will be treated differently once I have a baby in my arms- will people just look at the baby? Every now and then when i notice a piece of lint or something on my shirt and pick it off I have a flash of realization that I will never be this self-involved again. Once my child is born my thoughts will center around him 99 if not 100%. I think I will be more comfortable in my skin and I practice feeling what that strength will feel like and living it now. I don't want my child to grow up feeling second class or like an outsider because I am not from here. I am practicing feeling confident and like I belong because I do not want to pass my insecurities onto my child.
 

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i am late coming to this one... i have to say i don't do podcasts so when i saw "podcast" on the sticky, i kind of ignored it...

How? By placing ourselves in situations where we are the Other.

my biggest recent "other situation" was the month we spent in zambia this summer. we were in the suburbs of lusaka. it's not a tourist town at all (the tourists all go to livingstone) so the bulk of visitors are travelling on business, and they're all downtown. it is extremely unusual to see someone in lusaka who is not zambian.

What is going through your mind during the moment?

we experienced some real culture shock on our arrival - the high stone security walls (some topped with broken glass or razor wire) around almost every property except in the extremely poor areas, the massive potholes in the road and dirt sidewalks and dirt roads in the city, the dryness of the air, the lack of clean running water in all but the most wealthy areas.

What is going through your head about the people who surround you?

everyone in lusaka is very modest (in both dress and demeanour) and polite - so unlike toronto! we found ourselves stepping up and becoming more polite and modest ourselves. mostly we were stunned by the hardship most live with - whole families breaking rocks into gravel by hand, for about $1.50 a day. it really puts the privilege we live with in the west in perspective.

What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?

it's impossible not to feel like you stick out. you do, full stop. and there were a few cases where my mil got mad at locals (market vendors, taxi drivers) for trying to charge us "mazungu" (foreigner) prices instead of zambian prices, so there was an awareness that at least some people saw us as wealthy and were happy to overcharge us (although no one ever tried to charge us what the same services would fetch in canada), which wasn't an issue with us, but really bothered my mil! she wouldn't let me or even my husband (her son, 50% zambian) go with her to buy goats at the market, as we would hamper her haggling.

mainly people saw us as a curiosity, wondered why we were there, but not in an uninviting way, just pure honest surprise and curiosity (we had a couple of helpful taxi drivers who were positive we must have the address where we were staying wrong - surely we couldn't be going there??) - as i say, there are very few non-zambians in lusaka.

mostly everyone was friendly and especially happy to see a mazungu baby in a bapu! we got many approving looks and compliments from strangers. zambians LOVE babies! i think we saw maybe 2 babies in strollers the entire month we were there. one was crying being pushed by its dad, and i called out to him and said "you should give that baby a bapu!" and he looked surprised for a moment and then we all laughed!

How do you act in response to all this stimuli?

i did find myself much more aware of the different shades of brown though - here in north america, it seems that anyone with any visible percentage of african ancestry is black, full stop (i guess that's the old "one drop" rule?) in lusaka, it seemed to be the opposite - my husband, who is one half zambian and is definitely be considered black here, was seen as white there. and while there were blacks at all levels of society, the poorest were all black. we never saw anyone of mixed ancestry in the poorest areas - they all seemed to be working at the bank or shopping at the expensive grocery store.

but really everyone was so accepting of us that we felt at home very quickly. people are people wherever you go - if you accept them as such, they will generally be accepting of you, i find.
 

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How? By placing ourselves in situations where we are the Other.

This is really hard for me to write about. That's what really drew me to post about this exercise. I'm a middle aged white woman with really only one black friend. I work in retail. I'd say we have about 20% black employees in our store during the day, the night shift is probably about 80% black. Recently I was commissioned to paint a mural in the employee lounge with a "working together" theme. We have a company mascot who happens to be a white male. I was asked to create a white female and a black male with the same "look" as our mascot shaking hands. Our company big on diversity in all their propaganda, but I never saw our mascot in any shade other than white, I have seen a female version before, however. I had a few interesting moments painting this mural, and a lot went through my mind as different employees came in the room as I was painting.

What is going through your mind during the moment?

I wanted to get the black guy the right shade. I decided to make him as dark as possible so he would be noticed. Not just a light cocoa color, but a nice mahogany. As I was painting, a lot went through my mind. I live in a different world than they do. Even though we work side by side, I know so little about their lives. How they have to deal with all the discrimination that is an undercurrent everywhere. I have a deep appreciation for the African American culture and the history of oppression in the US. My one black friend is very close to me and he is obsessed with racism. I am highly sensitive to it from his influence and from just educating myself about our history.

What is going through your head about the people who surround you?

I felt a little tense when a black employee came in. I was hoping they liked my mural and felt happy that they were being represented. I was shy around people I normally joke around with. One older white guy really annoyed me when he came up and started whispering to me about Imus and his forced retirement. He said "they get all bent out of shape over that stuff, you know" I told him I don't blame them one bit, and that ended our conversation. Every now and then I get little comments like that from people I work with and I always set them straight ASAP. It's sad to think these people think like that about every black person they see. It just pisses me off so much, they have no idea what they are doing.

One thing that annoyed me about myself, I confided in a few of my co- workers when they asked me what I was painting. I told them the male was going to be "multicultural", it did seem somewhat eye opening to see our mascot in a different shade. But I only told this to a few of the white employees I spoke to. I just couldn't say that bit of information to a black employee. I felt embarrassed to mention that bit of info to them. It's just so pitiful somehow. It should be trivial, but it's anything but trivial really.

What do you perceive will be their treatment of you?

I was waiting for the night crew (mostly black) to come in and see what they thought. Would they say anything? This mural was just so hunky-dory, it kind of made me sick of painting it. The subject was so blatantly multicultural. I was feeling more white than ever painting this black guy! I was hoping they would come in and maybe say a few good natured jokes to break the ice. If they were quiet about it I knew I would feel very uncomfortable, I was just dreading that. As they began to trickle in to start their shift a few of them started joking around and I felt so relieved! Whew! These guys are so nice and just down to earth and funny. Why was I so tense and worried? That feeling of being scared for a few brief moments just felt betraying somehow. It's just depressing knowing those fears can come up so easily.

How do you act in response to all this stimuli?

I felt humbled, cautious and just kind of weird and sad coming home from work late at night. Why do things have to be this way? I'm still not finished with my mural. I'll be going back again today to do more. I wonder what else has been said about this mural between other employees at work. I was thinking about other famous figures like Santa and Jesus and how I react when I see a black portrayal. I'm not conditioned to see them like that, so my very first reaction is a little surprised, but then I have another reaction very quickly.. why the heck not? And then I get a little angry that I was conditioned to expect a white guy in the first place.
 

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I am so vex I missed the first two exercises.

I am Jewish who is born in Canada, moved to the US when very young to the South (Georgia) and identify with the South. My grandmother was considered a mixed Jewish woman as she has some other type of Asian in her but we don't know the extent. She was a small brown woman with high cheekbones, flat small nose and kinky hair. Quiet as it is kept Jewish and Black people are the most color struck folk in the world in my experience and she would insist she was white. My father was light brown with black kinky hair and my mother a very light skinned Eurpopean looking Jewish woman with blonde hair , green eyes and white skin. She was considered a prize and she was really a great beauty to boot.

My brother is very white skinned and blue eyes, blonde hair and me in the middle with brown hair, black eyes, frizzy wild hair, sallow skin almost olive that tans very well. I can pass for almost anything if I had the mind to. People always ask me what are you. Of course my grandmother doted on my brother always talking about his blue eyes.

I moved back to Canada 15 years ago to Quebec and feel displaced. I have 3 multiracial children, (Jewish, African American, and Cherokee Indian) red bones, high yella, "white folk", My youngest is very fair with blue green eyes and black folk in Ga called him little white boy so much the poor child thought he was white till he was 10. Drove me nuts. We had to learn French here and only me and my youngest were able to do it.

Here in Canada quiet as it is kept race is an issue too but they do not have a history in instituanalized racism on books such as the US.

Black folk here are very mixed or from places like the Carribean and Africa. My family fit right in.

I live in a condo townhouse of a very very mixed population. Any country you can think of is represented here and all get along very well. Many of multiracial person around here. I love it.

But in the world my kids get it. They are followed in stores, stopped for bus passes as the white kids get by, stopped by police , been called n#####ger more than we care to remember. This never happened in Ga from white people. They passed out many a Ga ass whuppin when we first come here.

I am happy to be me. I think anyone should be happy to be. There is not one culture, race nationality or religion left in this world that can claim "purity" or guitlessness in behavior or history. There is good and bad in everyone. I feel sorry for white people who let guilt rule them or Black people who practice self hate or my Jewish people who always try to fit in with the culture they live under but are never really accepted. My philosphy is life is play the hand you got.

To further complications I am a Messianic Jew which means a Jewish believer in Jesus a Jewish Christian. My fathers side has married off into Trinidadians, and Jamaicans and has half Jewish and Half native (Mic Mac) there too. People are always amazed, interested, repelled by my family or a combination thereof.

I find beauty in things people do not generally find beauty of. I am apolitical mostly, conservative in some things liberal in others. I cannot be easily pigeonholed.
 
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