How to Tell People They Sound Racist

Jay Smooth over at Illdoctrine.com (a hip-hop video blog) recently did an awesome three minute video on “How to Tell People They Sound Racist.”

He starts:

“It seems like everybody everywhere is talking about race right now. And when everybody everywhere is talking about race, that means sooner or later you’re gonna have to tell somebody that they said something that sounded racist. So you need to be ready and have a plan in place….”

“The most important thing that you’ve got to do is remember the difference between the what they did conversation and the what they are conversation. ”

Jay Smooth goes on to explain the difference between the two types of conversations and the importance of focusing on the former (what they did and said) versus the latter (making assumptions about their motivations and who they are because of what they did and said), as well as not allowing the perpetrators to derail your argument by focusing on who they are, rather than holding them accountable for what they said or did.

At the end, he says “….focus on the part that matters: holding each person accountable for the impact of their words and actions. I don’t care what you are; I care about what you did.”

It’s an amazing and effective video in only 3 minutes. Be sure to check it out, and share it with friends, family, co-workers, and everyone.

~ Marsha

It’s Been a Privilege: Why Black Children Chose White Dolls

In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, “only” 3 in 10 Americans admitted to a racial bias. According to the poll more than half of whites in the U.S. feel pretty confident that things are well in the kingdom of race relations and equality. If things are so great, and the color of someone’s skin has ceased to be a factor of discrimination and bigotry, then why are black children still choosing white dolls over dolls that are black?

In her documentary A Girl Like Me, (about 7 minutes long) young filmmaker Kiri Davis highlights the sad racial divide that still exists in American culture. In addition to interviewing young African-American women about the difficulties of finding their place and of not being accepted, Davis conducts a “doll test,” in which she asks young black children to choose the doll they prefer (between a white and black doll who look and are dressed the same). According to Davis, 15 of the 21 children chose the white doll. When asked which doll was good, several children picked the white doll. When asked which doll was bad, those same children chose the black doll. Why is that?

Why, as reported in a recent article from EW.com, are all the characters of color fading from TV?

Why, when we see ads on TV, online, billboards, magazines, etc., do we see mostly white faces, and when we do see faces of color, they’re often associated with a stereotype, such as something “ethnic” or tribal?

Why are many of the toxic waste facilities and polluting industries situated next to neighborhoods of the poor and usually non-white?

It’s easy for white people in the U.S. to accept and assume that discrimination and racism are the exception, rather than a too frequent occurrence, because we live in a culture of white privilege. As Allan Johnson says in Privilege, Power & Difference:

“That’s all that’s required of most white people in order for racism to continue: that they not notice, that they do nothing, that they remain silent….We don’t have to be ruthless people in order to support or follow paths of least resistance that lead to behavior with ruthless consequences.”

Take some time to observe: when you see ads, watch TV, browse through a brochure – who’s represented there? When you read the news, how are people of color portrayed? Are there as many positive, uplifting stories about people of color as there are ones about illegal immigrants, criminals and celebrities? Think about your daily actions and ask yourself: Does everyone have this same opportunity? Would everyone be treated equally if in this situation?

What needs to happen – what choices do we each need to make – so that our world becomes one of love, acceptance, justice, and one where children of all colors and cultures have plenty of positive role models to choose from?

~ Marsha