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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Racism

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Author Topic: Racism
Member # 37204

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(I wasn't really sure where to put this - but I figure since it's about my relationships with other people, and how I perceive them, I'll put it here.)

I know racism is wrong and irrational, but deep down inside I know I'm a racist. At least to some extent -

I feel really uncomfortable writing this, because I'm aware that how I think is irrational, and unfair, but it's just how I think and I can't really change that.

I'm a very judgmental person - and when I see people who are different ( ethnicity, skin color, sexuality, religion) I feel uncomfortable. These feelings don't get to the extent where I attack people, and I do have friends who are Jewish, but I still don't feel like I'm at the same level as them. And I know this is wrong, and I know it's irrational, but I just acknowledge that, I don't really feel it enough to change how I view things.

As I get more and more involved in political discussions people are becoming more aware of how I think, and they're starting to see me for who I really am - a racist. And being racist isn't really acceptable in society, and I don't want to get myself into trouble, but I don't want to stop debating because it is something that I enjoy.

I'm white, and catholic, and a political conservative, and I know people judge me because of all those factors. And I accept that. A lot of people judge those around them, and it's ok in my mind for a black person to feel hostile around me - people feel threatened by those who are different. - a lot of people, not everyone.

I just don't like being like this - closed minded - I know it isn't right, but I can't really change how I think - that I'm not compelled to embrace those who are different. I guess how I rationalize this is sexuality - people don't control who they're attracted to, it's just how their mind is set up. And my mind is set up to judge people and feel hostile towards them.

I know people can't control these things, and I know it might hurt others, but I can't control this.

Why is it ok for people to be proud of being white/black/gay/straight/jewish/catholic - whatever they are, but it I need to live being ashamed of how I think?

How can I change this? Being closed minded isn't acceptable in today's society. I'm not a bad person, I don't attack people, I keep my thoughts to myself, mostly, and when I do let them out I'm careful about my word choice. I just think like this, and I feel that because I think like this I need to hold back my thoughts. I don't participate in as many discussions as I would like to, because I know people will start attacking me and viewing me as a horrible person.

It's gotten to a point now where I feel sick to my stomach with how this whole thing is turning out, both personally and how I deal with others.

Posts: 4 | From: NY | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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You know, any kind of thinking isn't permanent. It can be changed and it's not just the way your mind is set up. You do have the choice to change how you view things and think about things. Everyone does.

If I may ask, how old are you? Oftentimes, younger people do have a more limited world-view and can be a little more close-minded. This isn't to say all young people are like that, nor that it is any fault of their own. A lot of it has to do with the education system not trying hard enough to challenge those world views, or in fact encouraging close-mindedness. You will find, though, that the more you read and the more people you meet your world view will change. Most often this happens for people in college since they are away from their parents (who can be a pretty big influence on your early ways of thinking, be that for good or bad) and in a new environment around new and diverse people where they have to adapt and find ways to get along with others and fit in.

Right now in the U.S., we are living in a culture of growing ethnocentrism (the idea that your culture or ethnic group is superior to others), so it's not that uncommon that some people will hold those sorts of views. However, as you get older and start to enter the work force, you will realize that these kinds of opinions just aren't too great to hold and will end up keeping you back in life. Realizing this aspect of your personality is the first important step, and it means that you can work to improve yourself. What you may want to do is start expanding your reading list, maybe take a few classes on race and/or sociology.

Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 28478

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I know how u feel to a certain point. I live in Ireland and was brought up by my brothers, family and friends and the town I live is very anti protestant to see the least. As long as you don't express your feeling or anything then you can really help what you think can you.
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Member # 37204

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It's strange you bring up world view - I'm 17 years old, just graduated from high school 4th in my class, I took multiple AP courses which required me to view things differently, and I'm a member of my model United Nations team at school, which allows me to debate and exposes me to different cultures of the world. I'm always reading the news, and watching Fox News or CSPAN...I'm well aware of everything that happens in the world - all the poverty and hunger and everything, and the worst thing about how I think is, I feel that the hungry poor people need to be there - that these classes need to exist for the world to function - and I've read books and journals that support that point - I've read Obama's book, I've read The Case For Democracy, and I've read books by Anne Rice... I've always got a book. I don't think the problem is that I don't know what else there is, but that I just don't feel it's my issue to deal with.

And that's where the problem is. I could go on living my life thinking this way, but it's not allowing me to have open relationships with others who disagree. I've kept friends who know how I think, but that tension is always there whenever politics come up, and I just can't ignore that. And when I hold my views back, my relationships aren't as strong as they should be for me to feel secure.

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Gumdrop Girl
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Y'know, white, conservative and racist don't always have to be in the same damned sentence.

Given what you have said, it seems to me you simply haven't met enough people who are truly different from you. Racism and other kinds of discrimination are born out of fear and unfamiliarity.

Seems to me you gotta get out of your niche and find a whole panoply of people to talk to. It is necessary to embrace people who are different because you will have to deal with them at some point, whether in school,in professions or in your immediate neighborhood. And you have to get used to the idea that people are going to disagree with you, but as long as you have a mutual respect for each others opinions, then there's no reason you can't be friends and colleagues.

It's cliché to say this, but when you meet people of other races and ethnicities, instead of viewing them as a representative of their race, focus on them as an individual. that was when you meet more and more people, they don't form some kind of "race bloc."

Lastly, if you feel like you can't have good relationships with people who disagree with you, then you must really suck at debating. What's the point of being on Model UN if it has taught you nothing of diplomacy?

btw, I think, "I'm a white conservative" is a pretty lousy excuse to be phobic of people. Plenty of conservatives are not narrow-minded folks, and it does them no benefit to be associated with people who are. By clinging to stereotypes of other people, you are perpetuating your own.

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Posts: 12677 | From: Los Angeles, CA ... somewhere off the 10 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Why is it ok for people to be proud of being white/black/gay/straight/jewish/catholic - whatever they are, but it I need to live being ashamed of how I think?
I think it's important to realize that someone having self-esteem in part of their identity which is about them and their love of themselves is not the same as someone having esteem in a lack of acceptance or care for others. In other words, someone being proud of being out and gay is proud of being out and gay: that isn't about, say, having disdain for people who are not. I think it seems like you're seeing those things as being deciding those aspects of themselves somehow make them superior and others inferior, rather than being about self-acceptance, and in some of those cases, self-acceptance in spite of being given minority or oppressed status by culture-at-large.

Many of the things you listed there are about a view of self, not about a view of others. As another example, a person in the 30's who was proud of being German was not necessarily a Nazi. In other words, a person could be proud of being German simply as loving their country and being a person of that heritage. A person proud of being a Nazi, however, would be a person proud of that heritage but also proud of a hatred, disdain and revulsion for Jews and other groups, and the way they see themselves as superior to those other people. Those two things are very different. Make sense?

I just want to add that the idea we can't change what we think is fallacy, and a whole lot of convenient ignorance. People used to think the world was flat, then had solid evidence to consider that it was round. Plenty of people changed their thinking once the flaw in how they were thinking became apparent. certainly, some people chose to cling to a false idea about that for a while, but that was an elective choice on their part to remain ignorant, not something they couldn't help.

The idea that any one group or more of people is inferior to another based on factors like race, sex, sexual orientation is something we have equally solid evidence to know is false, and also a lot of evidence and history to show is incredibly harmful, toxic, and in some instances fatal to a LOT of people. Changing thinking on that is no different than changing thinking on how flat the world isn't, though because bigotry tends to be first learned at very early ages -- and because it often goes hand in hand with privilege and benefits based on oppressing others -- it can take a bit more effort to unlearn.

The issue here isn't that you cannot change the way you think -- as people, we adjust our thinking on things all the time -- but that you seem to feel that you don't want to, or only want to because of the ways it might benefit you, personally, to do so. It sounds like you also feel like you shouldn't have to feel that being racist or bigoted is something in need of change, and that you also don't seem to realize the harm it does others.

It might be helpful to look at an example of a situation that has impacted you where people thought it wasn't "their issue to deal with," because their privilege allowed them to have something for themselves already, so they didn't feel they needed to care if others had it. You're a women who has been able to get an education and who, in less than a year, will be able to vote. part of why it took women so long to win those battles so you could reap the benefits was because of men who didn't think those things were their issue, since they had those benefits themselves. That attitude is a big part of why it took so long for women to obtain those rights, and it in order to do so, people who didn't care about the rights of others had to adjust their thinking and start caring. Had that not happened, you very well may not have even been entitled to learn the skills you have just used in writing out your posts here.

Even just as a woman, you have likely been impacted by sexism, and certainly women before you have been, many far more than you ever will be because they worked so hard to combat bigotry towards women coming from men who felt that women's issues and rights "weren't their issue" because they felt women were not their equals, and/or those men already had the rights and benefits themselves women didn't, so they could have given a hoot. Plenty of men in history have used the same kinds of convenient excuses and some still do: it's not THEIR fault they think women aren't equals or whole people like they are, and they can't change that, it's "just how they think." But had not lots of those folks changed their thinking on that over time -- since women needed their support and the power they monopolized to get rights -- you'd not personally be looking at the right to vote in the next year, at anyone being willing to give you a platform to do debates on or giving your words any merit at all, or heck, even the right to be educated enough to write the posts you have here. You seem way too smart to expect anyone else to buy the idea that people can't change their thinking or to insist you don't have the ability to change yours.

Bigotry is a form of hatred: it's not good for anyone, and even if you never speak it out loud, it is going to find ways of both impacting you and everyone you come into contact with, and none of that impact will ever be positive, for you or anyone else.

[ 06-28-2008, 05:53 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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