#2. What Gets Under my Skin?

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I am normally a pretty easy going person and not a whole lot gets under my skin. I mean, of course my brother gets super annoying super quick, but he doesn’t get under my skin too often. However, if I had to pick one thing in particular that really made my skin crawl like ants, it would be discrimination. Specifically, racism.

In my own experience, it hurts, but to watch it happen to the people you love is worse. I’ve mentioned him before, but my brother was racially discriminated against to the point where he is home schooled because he came home crying. Everyday. I wanted more than anything to take away the pain he went through but I couldn’t. I wasn’t allowed to do a thing about it because I’m not an adult. What I’ve come to realize is that there will always be people that can’t see past what’s on the outside. As long as there is someone out there who isn’t the same as everyone else, there will be that one person who can’t handle it. If there is someone out there who isn’t an exact copy, all the way down to the very last chromosome that makes up that person, there is someone who will be resentful towards them for that exact reason.

Racism is infuriating because it’s everywhere, sometimes in small and sometimes in big ways. I know about microaggressions, I’ve seen it. People assume or they ask very small minded things and part of it is normally, at least in my experience, because of ignorance. I know and understand that some people don’t understand how badly words can hurt and how what they’re saying can affect someone else. Ignorance can be fixed, people can be taught, but there are those who know exactly what’re they’re doing and what they’re saying means. It’s that kind of discrimination that really gets my blood boiling. That is the kind of discrimination I want to help fix.

All in all, I think I can at least partially understand both ends of the spectrum. I understand ignorance and the accidental racism, that not everyone means what they say. I also understand how difficult it is to deal with it on a personal level. But what I don’t understand is how someone can be so close minded and say and do things that are completely unacceptable and wouldn’t have been done if that person were white. Don’t misunderstand, everyone of every race can be racist with or without knowing it. A black person can be completely ignorant to someone who is Asian, and vice versa. Someone who is Indian can do something completely unacceptable to someone who is Mexican. It can happen to anyone.

Some questions I have include:

-How can we make people less ignorant?

-How do you deal racism in an appropriate way?

-How do you handle people who really know what they’re saying and/or doing is wrong, but still do/say it anyways?

-What can one single person do to help out when they’re alone?

Melaina Bassette

8 Responses to “#2. What Gets Under my Skin?

  • Abby Wald
    2 years ago

    Melaina,

    I’m reading a book right now that has a helpful clarification. It says:
    “Prejudice is a preconceived judgment or opinion that is usually based on limited information.”
    “Racism is a system of advantage based on race… Racism is prejudice plus power.”
    Prejudice plus power. That phrase resonates with me.
    Are you more interested in exploring the power structures that lead to prejudices becoming racism, or more in the reasons behind the prejudices in the first place?

    • That is a very good question, one I may need to think about myself. I think I’m more curious about the power structures that lead to prejudices. I love that quote. I think I’ll have to find and read that book.

  • Wow melaina,
    You have so much passion, I can see that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get change. I hope that you fin people and will not be alone to work through the long process of change. It is so sad how most people have been affected on a personal level with discrimination and racism. I think that you addressed it in a nice way and your author’s voice is really present.

  • Hi Melania,
    There’s one thing I want to make sure you know: that fact that you’re not an adult does not prevent you from making a change. You probably know this already but you would not believe how even the smallest amounts of self-doubt can deter you.
    Anyway, I like how your questions deal with education. It is very difficult to convince someone who is so sure of their opinion that they are wrong. Fortunately, most racism/racial bias/biases in general no longer come from a place of hate, but rather a place of ignorance and sometimes fear. As you said, a lot of racism can stem from misinformation. That is why education is so important. Also, good job bringing up that racial biases aren’t just between people who are white and black, that is often neglected.
    I think you’re headed in the right direction. Definitely keep considering the value of education and how that may impact someone’s view towards a specific race. When you’re doing your interview this coming week, I encourage you to ask people about encounters where they may have been racially insensitive and what they learned from that experience.
    Good luck!
    Emily

  • Melania,

    My sincere apologies for replying too late. But I have to say, this blog was just marvelous. What you said here really connected with me to the point where I kind started getting emotional. Just like me, racism is something that gets under my skin, but in your case, it’s even worse. You have seen people close to you experience it, and that why you want do something about it because the state those people were in after the event, really hit you hard.

    But anyway, I love you writing so much that I feel like you should be my new writing teacher. The way you write, it’s like your fingers and your emotions are connecting while hitting the keyboard. It’s amazing and can’t wait to see more of it.

    Peace,
    Hussein

    • Hussein,
      You have no reason to apologize. I love reading the comments I get at any time. I really enjoy the interaction. And I’m really happy that you like my writing!! I’m better at it than actually forming words with my mouth, haha! All jokes aside, I’m not just doing racism because of other people. It’s affected me as well and changed me, for better or worse. It has affects that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Sorry, I don’t mean to get all somber and gloomy.
      If you ever want tips for writing or just want someone to chat with and/or give you ideas, you can always email me! Of course I’m not twisting your arm and forcing you to do so, but I’m always open to it.

      Your friend,
      Mel

  • Emma Reynolds
    2 years ago

    Melaina,
    Your passion comes across in your writing! I love how you ask evocative questions while using imagery and descriptions of your every day life. I am especially drawn to the questions that you ask at the end. I think these questions can guide your thinking and future blog posts as you attempt to answer them, ask others what they think about them, and ask further questions.

    I’m excited to continue reading!
    Emma

  • Melaina,

    First, I appreciate your writing — and for expanding/clarifying your original post. Powerful experiences can lead to powerful stories.
    Second, I appreciated your questions, to:

    -How can we make people less ignorant?

    -How do you deal racism in an appropriate way?

    -How do you handle people who really know what they’re saying and/or doing is wrong, but still do/say it anyways?

    -What can one single person do to help out when they’re alone?

    And I would echo two other comments you got here by saying that you have voice; this program gives you voice. Your next step will be to hone your questions to one to help you frame the story you want to tell. And I know you’ve connected with Lucy and Hussein is a friend but the three of you have all expressed interest in this topic.

    geoff

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