The Race Card Project

[Content Note]: Racism

Michelle Norris, former host of National Public Radio, started the Race Card Project to help foster honest conversations about race. Providing small, black postcards, she asked people to “think about their experineces, questions, hopes, dreams, laments, or observations about race and identiy. Then, [she] asked that they take those thoughts and distill them to one sentence that had only six words.” She is using the cards to get a snapshot of America’s views about race. Looking through the Race Card Wall, here are a few that stood out to me:

“Forget blindness; remember that color contributes,” by Kelsey Hamm

I agree with Kelsey that we should acknowledge race, not pretend that it doesn’t exist. Ignoring it won’t make the problem go away. To disregard race would be to also disregard the experiences of people who society perceives as non-white.

“My son’s not half, he’s double,” by Jon Letman

I love this one! 🙂

“Don’t assume all whites are racist,” by Theresa

This person is a librarian griping about how minorities have responded to her when she asked them to be less noisy or stop what they were doing. Even if they really were talking a little too loudly or something like that, it’s understandable that, after constantly experiencing racism, they would be a little defensive in response to a hostile white person telling them what to do. In this case, I get the feeling that she actually is being hostile and not just asking them to follow the rules. She writes, “I DEMAND that blacks and other minorities not assume I’m a racist before I even open my mouth…[also], don’t be surprised if I am less welcoming to other blacks or minorities when they come along after you, either.”

She is asking (actually, demanding) them to do something that she isn’t even willing to do herself!! Also, while I understand that being assumed to be racist is uncomfortable, it’s on whites to show through their actions that they aren’t carrying around resentment, a sense of entitlement, etc. This is similar to how it’s on men, as the dominant gender, to show respect towards womens’ boundaries, rather than demand that women not cross the street to avoid walking on the same side at night because they are offended at being thought of as a potential rapist or stalker.

I turned in my card at my school’s International Club. I don’t remember what I said word for word now, but I wrote something along the lines of “Friendship, community, International Club, awareness, respect.” These are the things that first come to mind for me because since I was in Kindergarten, some of my friends have been of another race and have dealt with being treated differently in society. We talk about race from time to time, and I am grateful that they have shared their experiences with me. If I hadn’t become close with anybody from outside my race, it would have been easier to be mentally detached from racial issues and perpetuate racism from my own lack of awareness and understanding. If we all continue having conversations about race and building relationships with people from other backgrounds (organically, not from seeking them out specifically because of it), we can further combat racism with understanding.

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