Blog Post #2: Exploring New Ideas

This week I wanted to challenge myself to look at a topic that I don’t often think about…racism. As a white person, I have what one may call an “advantage” or privilege in life due to the color of my skin. My ancestors were not prosecuted for their race, were never slaves, and didn’t have to flee from their country. To me, racism means treating someone differently based on the color of their skin, or in simpler terms, their race. We see this all over the world today, we hear about it in our history books, but as a person of a privileged race, I don’t often worry about it or think too deeply about it. See, it doesn’t really affect me in my daily life, especially since I live in a rural town with minimal diversity. I have never firsthand delt with crude racism, either directed at me or someone I know. Especially living in a non-diverse state, we don’t often experience racism, at least in my perspective. Maybe I don’t always see racism because I’ve never really experienced it, maybe its a lack of awareness. In my lifetime, especially in the past few years, I’ve seen more acts of racism and hate on the news. More and more I hear on the news that a black person was brutally attacked by the police, and it saddens me to hear of these kinds of things. I almost feel like I can’t do anything about racism and acts of violence based on race, because of my skin color. Its almost as if, because I am not black, I’m not experienced enough to deal with racism. But in reality, its the complete opposite. There are so many ways that I can help and maybe even bring some awareness to others. If I can start by educating myself and trying to pinpoint any small acts of racism that I may subconsciously be doing, I can slowly start to help this issue, even if it’s in a small way. When I think of racism, I think of a white police officer or white man brutally harassing a person of color. But racism is more than that, it’s microaggressions that build up over time and only worsen the issue. Its when we make unkind assumptions about someone based on stereotypes surrounding their race, and it’s so much more than that, more than I, a person not very experienced with racism, could even begin to explain. I can’t blame my rural upbringing for my lack of awareness of this issue, its also partly my fault for not realizing how prominent this issue is. Its all around me, it’s truly is everywhere, but I fail to see it and really do anything about it. Some questions that I and others can start to think about around racism are:

-How does racism affect our everyday lives?

-How can we together start working on the problem of racism?

-How does racism intersect with other social issues?

-What can we do in our everyday lives to end racism?

-Are we being racist without knowing it?

Grace Darrow

6 Responses to “Blog Post #2: Exploring New Ideas

  • Abby Wald
    2 years ago

    Grace,

    I love your last question : are we being racist without knowing it? I think it could be altered by adding HOW or WHEN or WHY in front of it. Each of these would add an interesting depth to explore.

    You said racism isn’t only the big TV news events, but it is also the “microaggressions that build up over time” This is a powerful statement. Micro aggressions. Small violences. Our words. Our thoughts. Our biases. Our responses at the gut level. These things build up over time and can build worlds of hurt in others.

    I applaud you for taking the leap and thinking about something you don’t often think much of. What a blessing to not have to think of it, but as you said, perhaps there is power and privilege you can harness and use for the good of all.

    Abby

    PS: I missed post #2. I can’t seem to find it. Sorry. 🙁

  • Eva M Rocheleau
    2 years ago

    Grace!
    I am so excited that you’re still active in What’s The Story! I love this blog post! I think you raise really amazing questions about race in relation to your own experience as a white person in Vermont. I am studying race this semester at school and thinking a lot about these concepts too! I think your humility and awareness of historical and cultural contexts is central to this topic, and will enable you to learn honestly and deeply about these issues. I am curious about your inclination to do more to explore the idea of ‘unseen’ racism in our predominately-white communities. I wonder if there is any history within your town or county you could explore? Are there communities around you that were a part of our nations complex (and ongoing) racial history? I can’t wait to hear more about your thoughts, explorations, and questions!
    Best wishes,
    Eva

  • Dianne Baroz
    2 years ago

    Grace,
    This is a very important topic. Did you happen to see this in the news yesterday: https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/27/us/vermont-lawmaker-resigns-racism/index.html . State Rep Kiah Morris was the only black female legislator in Vermont who will not seek a re-election bid because of racist attacks against her and her family.
    This topic is relevant and a serious issue for Vermonters. I liked your question about what can we do in our everyday lives to end racism. I don’t think anyone in our communities would say flat out that they were racist, but as you mention, are there microaggressions happening. A good topic to research and find out what could you do to change things here in your own school or town.
    Best,
    Dianne

  • This is so good, and really well said. I think this is a wonderful topic to start researching and getting into!

  • Hi Grace,

    I’m excited to hear that you’re interested in grappling with the issue of racism. As a white person who grew up in a predominantly white community and now teaches in one, I often wonder how, if ever, white people learn about racism or contemplate their responsibility to address it. Last year, while chaperoning a group of WtS students on a trip to the Navajo Nation, we had a really thought-provoking conversation about how rare it is for white people to discuss issues of racism and how it isn’t typically addressed formally in schools. Where have you learned about racism in your life? What experiences are driving your interest in this topic?

    Have you ever read Peggy McIntosh’s article “Invisible Knapsack”? Reading this article helped me grasp how racism isn’t as often person-to-person, but rather, a systematic issue. Check it out if you haven’t already: http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf

    I wonder what racial micro-aggressions you see most occurring in your community? Keep up the great thinking and inquiry!

  • Grace,

    I also think about racism often and have also had the thought “Am I racist without knowing it?” For me, it has been hard to express in words how I feel about racism and how I may be doing things wrong, but you have accomplished that. Your writing is very emotional and thoughtful. Reading your blog post is always a privilege because your passions leak through your words and form a puddle of curiosity and willingness to take action. I respect you and your writing greatly and am excited to see your project bloom this year.

    -Katelyn

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