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MEMO: Race is not just a POC thing, we all got it!

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Submitted by coffeeforkatya on Mon, 2009-10-05 10:35

Okay, quick quiz: What do these things have in common? Getting accepted into college, meeting people for the first time, walking down the street in your neighborhood, going to the airport. Answer: In all these situations, your race affects how you are perceived and treated by others, as well as your own outlook on the situation. This doesn't only go for people of color (POC), but everyone. Okay, now I'm going to blow your mind: everyone has race, even white people! It sounds silly, but people forget this all the time. Race is a big part of who we all are as individuals, and logically, it also factors into our sexual relationships in a major way.

The reason that race is such a big issue comes from our long history of racism: slavery, genocide (see Jessica Yee’s post), rape, persecution, the list goes on. That kind of history doesn't just go away. And it's reflected in the more subtle (but still destructive) racism that POC regularly experience in the United States today. Because everyone is part of the racial system, racism is an issue that we all need to address. However, just because we all 'have race', doesn't mean that it affects us the same way or that we all have equal racial status. Race is actually in charge of creating many of the inequalities in our society, and so depending on our identities, getting rid of racism (race's ugly cousin) may look different from person to person.

There are many strategies for fighting racism in our relationships and in society. I'm personally a big fan of talking it out. I hope that the space here at Scarleteen can be a place where the issues of race and sexuality can be hashed out and discussed, and opinions on how to move forward can be shared. In order to make this happen, this needs to be both a 'safe' space, meaning that we feel that we can share our experiences and thoughts without fear of being made fun of or attacked, but also what one of my teachers calls a 'brave' space, meaning that in order to take something away from this we have to be brave enough to push ourselves and others.

Being able to talk about race and sexuality and all the delightful, messy, painful things that go along with it means first being able to talk about race. So I'll start off by sharing something about myself. I'm hapa, which means 'half' in Hawaiian, where I was born and raised. I had a lot of trouble with my identity growing up (still do sometimes!) because I knew that my racial identity was so much more than being the sum of two halves. It didn't help when I picked up and moved from Hawaii to Seattle, which threw me off on the whole culture thing too. I'm still in the process of working everything out for myself.

Not only were my parents in an interracial relationship, but I currently am too. My partner is white, and we're both a part of a very small student group that does, among other things, anti-racist and sex education work. Yep, it gets pretty interesting sometimes, to say the least! Hopefully, I'll be sharing more on this later.

But now it's your turn. Tell us about yourself, your identity/experiences (if you want), if you have any questions or issues you want to discuss here. The goal of this is to create a more clearly defined 'racial space' on Scarleteen, because as we already learned, race is an issue that affects all of us albeit in different ways. Oh, and I'll probably be posting to this section weekly about whatever strikes my fancy (which is a lot) so check back in soon!

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