“People who say that race is not important have not usually been mistreated/disrespected most of their lives because of their race. To say that race SHOULD NOT be important is one thing, and correct, but to recognize that for many people, race is a game-changer in terms of their life experience, that is reality. We should all be working for a time when race is not important in terms of life experience, but to deny the reality of many people’s current life experience – that in itself is disrespectful and illustrates the point.” Diana Gardner Robinson
I posted this on Facebook a few days ago, based on the experiences of many of my friends. When I was teaching future addictions counselors, among the students who worried me most were those who claimed, innocently and often smugly, that they don’t “see” race. What we need to “see” is how people have been affected by life experience, and people of different races (as well as backgrounds, nationalities, even the decade of their childhood) may have had different experiences. THAT is what we should pay attention to. If a person’s experience leads them to see the world through “black eyes” or “as a black woman” then to ignore that person’s race is to disrespect her experience of life. To do that is to demonstrate white privilege in all its ugliness.
Unfortunately it may be difficult for those of us who have never been in a specific situation to “grok” what it is like for someone else. The fact that we can’t imagine it does mean that we have the right to try to overlay our own experience over theirs. The fact that I, originating from England, have been judged by some people of certain other nationalities does not mean that I know what it is to have been discriminated against, or at least to be aware that discrimination is a probability/possibility, all my life.
We need to learn to accept other people’s realities as real in their experience, and move on, and allow them, to move on in that reality.
I could probably rant for pages on this, but I’ll be merciful and leave it at that.
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