Racism and prejudice have been hot topics in the media and society for the past 3 years or so, and this doesn't mean that racism was dead prior to this but it's just been brought to light on a much larger scale. In my mind, we as a people should have outgrown prejudice and racism long ago. If only the strong survive then weak minded racists should have died off long ago.
Before I continue, let's define prejudice and racism.
Prejudice - preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
Racism - creates or reproduces structures of domination based on existentialist categories of raceLet's use an example:
P: I've never met a dumb blonde before but she's so blonde she's gotta be dumb!Now let's dive into why I'm even mentioning all of this at all.
R: I hate that black woman because all blacks are lazy and stupid.
I have a coworker(let's call him Paul) who is probably one of the most open-minded people that I know. Paul is funny, witty and he happens to be a white man that adores women of color. This doesn't define him as a person, but for the purposes here I'm using this as a display of how far he is from racist or prejudice.
On one occasion, we got to talking about another much older coworker(let's call him Tony) that I felt may not have felt comfortable around me because of my skin color. Paul couldn't understand why I could feel this way and told me that Tony couldn't possibly be racist because his son has a disability. He then told me that Tony is an older man and may still be adjusting to seeing a young black woman walking down the hallways. We won't even get into the reasons why that's absurd right now, so let's move on.
On a more recent occasion, I expressed to Paul that my interactions with one of our coworkers (let's call her Joan) are so awkward despite us having been around each other in and out of work. Paul instantly jumped to tell me that Joan is a nice girl and that she comes from a wealthy family. After thinking about it, I was unsure how knowing these things about Joan would help me to work through the awkwardness in our interactions.
On both occasions, Paul used "whiteness" as a reason why these coworkers might not interact with me easily. Paul could have flat out said, "Listen they are REALLY white people and that's why they just might not get along with you, Blackey!"
Bottom line: none of this is okay. Despite having all "black friends" and loving women of all color, Paul is still willing to make excuses for any preconceived notions anyone might have about me based on the color of my skin. Instead of charging these people with diving into this multicultural society I am supposed to understand why they might be uncomfortable.
This won't work in 2016. It won't work anywhere. I'm over it.