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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Implicit Racism

I don't mean to be racist, but...

I hear this more often than I'd like. And I also get "but you're not black..." when I express distaste at an inappropriate racist joke or statement said around me. I think this is extra pronounced in the predominately white and Jewish suburb of Chicago I come from, but I also think that implicit racism is a huge problem ingrained in the culture of America.

It isn't accepted or allowed in 2012 to be openly racist, but tell a racist joke in my high school and you'll always get a chuckle. But for the few people of color (myself included) in my school, race is a daily reminder of how we're different. I often get jokes about Bindis, convenience stores, or the fact that my dad's name is Guru. Not that I think anyone's trying to be rude or to be racist, but there are often jokes that are a little too close for comfort.

Especially now, in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, implicit racism is a huge problem in our society. I think that much of the problem is that much of the racism in this country comes more from a place of ignorance than of actual hate. People have been bred for so long not to notice this type of racism that it takes people of color to point it out over and over and over until someone finally takes notice.

How do we change people's views though? How do we educate people to realize that race should not be an issue for us in 2012? And what can I, as a simple high school student, do about it? This is a question I struggle with daily, and one that I do not have the answer to. If any of you readers have any idea on what to do, I'd be glad to hear it, because I'm stumped.


  1. Wow, this was really well-written and the point is quite a complex one. How do you stop people from doing what's bad, but still accepted in modern day society. People claim to raise young children in a non-racist manner, unlike generations prior to us, who, for the most part, it was common and accepted to be racist. Now, however, people take what they can't as a tool to rebel, to do something because they find themselves to be in a slightly higher position of power when they joke about people of other races. So, the real question is if this new idea of teaching younger generations to be more accepting is actually working, or, at least making some improvements. After all, small improvements over time make a big difference. Rather, when is the age where these strategies of teaching acceptance no longer works and how do we change that? How can we make it so that people joke about something else, like things that are actually funny?

  2. I don't have an idea, just an example concerning the Trayvon Martin case to prove your point.

    If this isn't implicit (and also overt) racism, then I don't know what is. And the worst part is that he doesn't seem to know he's being racist. Thank goodness for sarcastic backlash!


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