Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist

There seems to be a misperception that liberals are feeling superior to others when talking about racism. In other words, that we are saying, “You guys are racist. We are so much better because we are not.” And being a liberal myself, I don’t know anyone who means it that way (though I can’t discount that maybe there are some people with that little self awareness).

I am not even going to get into systemic racism here at all, but I want to talk about how we all have some very deep-seated prejudices that we might not even be aware of. When I talk about Black Lives Matter, it isn’t that I think people who have killed innocent boys made a conscious decision that those boys should die. I think it was all subconscious.

And that’s why we need to work on rooting out those biases and prejudices deep in our thoughts. It isn’t a skill often taught, but it is in Hinduism. You can catch your thoughts early and see what inaccurate things your mind is trying to make you believe. Then you have the power to correct your mind.

So here’s an embarrassing example. One day I was at the grocery store in line behind a Black woman about my age buying a birthday cake for her four-year-old son. She was talking to the cashier and mentioned her husband. I glanced at her hand and saw a wedding ring.

racist, racism
https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1437913135140-944c1ee62782 by London Scout

I realized in that moment that I had actually been assuming that she was a single mother! And I said to my mind, “That’s racist.”

I try to always call myself out when I observe a racist thought floating through. My hope is that by examining those prejudices and actually seeing them in the light that I can change the narrative in my own head. I hope that it gets me to reexamine my gut reactions to people and situations.

I’ve caught many racist thoughts that my mind is trying to quietly slip in. And I’m ashamed and horrified by it. But I know that to make change, I have to be brave enough to notice and acknowledge when I am having those thoughts and to actively work against them.

Another assumption that I’ve caught myself making is that my Black friends already have a perfect understanding of oppression in politics and social justice, etc. I realized that that assumption is a form of dehumanizing them. They too worry about accidentally being racist and they don’t have all the answers about these very tricky times we are living in.

So if you hear me calling out racism, please know that I call it out in myself as well and I hope that it is pointed out to me when I haven’t noticed myself being racist. I have to learn, we all have to learn, so that we can more fully embrace each other as family and as God.

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  • idaho

    I raise a variety of hens, it has always amazed me the Speckled Sussex hang out with the Speckled Sussex, Anconas with Anconas and so forth. Same with our sheep, Merinos with Merinos, Black Welsh with Black Welsh.
    These animals can’ t look in mirror and realize they are a certain breed, why to they prefer to be with ‘birds of a feather’ ?

    • Ambaa

      What an interesting observation. I’m not sure what to make of that!

    • https://www.crowdrise.com/buzzoff2015/ Salticid

      Absolutely.
      I was going to pass this along to Ambaa, but this thread brings it up already.

      It has been demonstrated time and again that we are to some extent genetically programmed to be drawn to those more like us and to fear ‘other’. This has been shown in animals as well.

      For us, what we imprint on most appears to be sight, sounds, and to a much smaller extent (because our noses aren’t as sensitive), smell, from our earliest days.

      Animals with a much stronger sense of smell than sight seem to imprint more strongly on scent, and same for hearing.

      Before you ask if a sheep doesn’t just smell like a sheep, considering they may stay in the same barn, consider that a dog can differentiate the scent of a tumor in your body from the rest of you, even though it’s still genetically your own tissue. Scent can be very finely defined.

      Also senses combine. If a lamb imprints on the way mother and the ones she spends time with look, this is safe and she seeks out others that look, smell, sound like that. No need for mirrors. This drive also ensures a better success rate in breeding, for most species.

      We ARE all a little racist. By genetic design, a survival mechanism. Society can reinforce it, or push us to grow past the limitations of our material being. It’s one of many reasons I love SD so much.

      I do the same thing you do, BTW, Ambaa. I try to do it with all my thoughts. Sometimes it surprises me the things my mind throws out.

      • Pennybird

        Years ago I read it was more natural to fear the other than not, as a defense mechanism. A lot of people say that racism is learned behavior, but they were arguing that it actually has to be unlearned. Made sense to me.

        Then there’s the culture that does a lot to emphasize any differences and play up stereotypes (and hammer us over the head with them). I think Ambaa was only responding to the stereotype when she had that pang of surprise upon hearing the woman was married.

    • mjm

      it is probably smell. maybe you can do an experiment and cross breed some sheep and see what the mixed offspring do?

      anyway, hopefully we have bigger brains than the chickens and sheep.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_imAGr0VE8

  • Donald M

    As one astute observer once noted, “You don’t have to believe everything you think.” Thank goodness!

  • Heston Churchill Jr.

    And it seems like the democrat people are always invoking racism as the explanation of everything. A projection of their deep seated thoughts.

    I think that’s something you people should dialogue carefully.

  • Arlene Adamo

    European colonialism adopted a theory of “white” as a system of elitism, domination and oppression and we all still suffer from this terrible thing they did. Our world is steeped in this disease and we are all infected. You are so right that it’s our duty to ourselves and to our humanity to fight this illness. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about Jane Elliot but she does some very truthfully raw workshops.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MYHBrJIIFU

  • http://planetromeo.com Sven2548

    No. The only racist are those perpetual victims that insist on telling others that they are superior regardless of how many times you tell them that we are all just equal.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    The problem here is that this line of rhetoric, which has been much done over and over again in the past, serves to divert from overt resurgent classic racism emerging from right wing political movements across the globe. There’s a difference between subconscious inculcated dysfunctional mindsets and overt hate agendas. The real threat is how the former can be co-opted by the latter.

  • Seeker

    This resonated with me because I have been guilty of judging certain people based on their manner of dress and even what they drive (ie pick up truck and cameo wear humm…). One of the exercises of my course with the Himalayan Academy is honest self examination. A few weeks of that and it starts to happen as you form the thoughts, not as an after thought.

    However the very first step is admitting it to yourself that you have prejudice (pre judging) which I think can be more on a subconscious level where as racism is (IMHO) more intentional and hate centered.

    • Ambaa

      Well put! I think you’re probably right that racism might not be the right word, since there’s no intentional malice. I love when I can see the thoughts happening. It’s amazing, isn’t it?