I am a racist. I have racist tendencies. It’s not ok, but the first step is realization. Then, actively calling yourself out on it. Then, questioning why? Lastly, figuring out what to do in order to combat it.
We are all racist to varying degrees. It is the world we live in. Society, culture, experiences, media, etc. influence our reactions, thoughts, instincts, etc. We can’t help it, but we can be aware of it, and actively fight against ourselves to become better, more aware people.
My junior year at Cornell, I took an ethnic studies class, which to this day is still one of my favorite courses. Within the first few days, my professor had us all take an Implicit Association Test (AIT) to gauge our hidden racial biases. To say the least, I was nervous as a self-proclaimed open-minded, non-judgmental, accepting, liberal, linguist white girl from Iowa. After finding out our results, we did a small experiment to see who had what results. For the most part white people were most biased against black or middle eastern men. Here’s where the shocker comes in… One person had an extreme bias against caucasian men while showing a more favorable bias towards black men and men of color. That person was me. Let’s just leave it at everyone was mildly confused.
I talked it over with my boyfriend and a few close friends. They weren’t at all surprised; now neither am I.
I grew up in the middle of the United States, which is known for it’s lack of diversity. I was lucky enough to grow up in a university town where I was surrounded by different colors, cultures, and backgrounds, but I was still surrounded by white people. Looking at my past, my bias against white men is fairly easily explained.
I’ve been raped by more men than I’d care to count, and they’re all white. I have been hit and abused by white men. I won’t go more in depth than that, but white men are the culprits of my abuse.
When I was working in the city a year and a half ago, I passed out on my way to work one day. A white man literally stepped over me as I was trying to get up. There were several black men working cleaning up the street, who immediately stopped and helped me. They helped me up, cleaned me off, and one walked me to work to make sure I got there ok. I was riding a very crowded subway on several occasions. There were no seats, and I was the only female standing. My feminism wasn’t a fan, but I was flattered none-the-less; a young black guy, who looked a bit on the hoodlum side, got up and offered me his seat. A Cuban is the first guy to do my laundry for me. An Asian guy who took me on a date, and gave me a peck on the cheek because he “didn’t want to rush things.”
I unfortunately found myself on Tinder out of loneliness. I found that I swiped right eqally for black men and white men. Maybe because there pictures were less douchy, they put more time into their bios, they had really nice smiles, who knows. So many times they messaged me asking if I was being serious or if I swiped right accidentally… We’ve come quite a ways when it comes to interracial dating, but there’s so far to go because none of them asked me out. They were mostly shocked I found them attractive.
I’m not saying white guys are bad or that I even dislike them. I am going to marry a redheaded, blue-eyed man, and nothing is whiter than a ginger. For me, I am instinctively more cautious of white men because I have been harmed by them in ways no other ethnicity has. My experiences have shaped my biases and reactions.