During class one day my professor discussed race, how it affects people, how it effects out lives, and how perception of race is molded into stereotypes that one falls back upon when making observations of others. She had divided us into groups around the room, based upon where we sat, and assigned to each group an ethnicity. She told us “Spend a few minutes, and think of stereotypes for the group I have given you.”
My own group was assigned “white people”, another “black people”, “Hispanics” and “Asians” were two other groups, “Native americans/American Indians” and “Indians” were the final two. Most of the stereotypes seemed fairly harmless to me at the time; “Asians are good at math”, “Hispanics all love tacos”, “Black people are most likely to have an afro”, and “American Indians love to gamble”, to name a few. This activity had turned into a way to compare stereotypes, whether they be ridiculous or not. My own group came up with a few, but the one that stuck with me was “The worst thing you can call a white person, is a racist. We don’t have and derogatory term that truly offends us as a whole. But, call us racist, and we may snap”, mind you this isn’t an exact quote, but rather a summation of our group’s discussion.
She then continued on with her discussion of explaining the difference between ethnicity and race, and pointed us towards an online movement of sorts, that allows people to put aside concerns of how others view you to speak about the touchy subject of race, “The Race Card Project“.
“The Race Card Project” is a movement started to allow people to discuss race in a way that they don’t feel compelled to lie or hide behind a mask, in six words people sum up what they see as the issue of race, or of how they feel race defines them in the eyes of others. Reading through these cards brought me closer into the idea of “Why is it that our race defines us?”, and with cards speaking of things such as “I’m their mother, not their Nanny” and “My Name is Lily. I’m Racist.” I came to see just how much others also wish to understand why it is we let race define ourselves. On the back side of the card people wrote explanations for their card, what it meant to them, how it defined them, how they felt that society viewed the issue.
I made my own card, my six words followed by a description of my live, having grown up in a rural southern town, where racism was seen as the norm, and to those who grew up there, became second nature. I wrote about how after moving to the northern part of the U.S. I gradually fell out of seeing that as the norm, but still felt the uneasiness that had been pounded into me for years, even if not by my parent’s doing.
My experiences with others, my peers, their families, people I didn’t even know, their opinions, their view of life, had warped my own to match, or rather to mesh, with their own. I go on to explain that even though it has been a long time, some habits are hard for me to break, like the uneasiness of driving through a predominately black neighborhood, or the confusion when I saw the number of foreign exchange students at my college. WHile these are not my own beliefs, they have become ingrained into me, and I ended talking about how others effected the way I viewed the world, even without my permission.
My six words: “I’m who I want to be.”
While I am not sure how well others will take to my post, I encourage anyone who reads this, take a look at some of the cards of others, read them. Perhaps you will learn how others see the world, and better understand your own views. Even better, make your own, share with the world your experiences, tell your story.
Be who you want to be.
Make your own card here: http://theracecardproject.com/send-your-race-card/
Anon. n.d. “Make Your Race Card – The Race Card Project.” The Race Card Project. Retrieved November 19, 2016 (http://theracecardproject.com/send-your-race-card/).
Anon. n.d. “Welcome to The Race Card Project! Send Your Six Words on Race.” The Race Card Project. Retrieved November 19, 2016 (http://theracecardproject.com/).