There’s a technique in image-editing called Selective Color. The way it works is to take a color photo and change it to black and white. Then a part of the image is selected and brought back to its natural color. It’s artistic and cool. While saving the image I was working on, the term selective color jumped out at me, as did the words black and white.
I’ve heard of selective hearing where a person hears only what they choose to hear. My dad was hard of hearing but refused to wear a hearing aid and he frequently said, “I hear what I want to hear.” No denying his selective hearing.
There’s also selective breeding, concerning animals and plants (breeding for the best possible characteristics, for example).
All of which made me think of racism and I wondered, am I a racist and if I am what can I do about it? So I did some digging and discovered my own lack of understanding about some basic terms I’ve been misusing.
Racism is a system of white supremacy. I (a human) can’t be a racist if it is a system. A system of white supremacy exists in our country. An expression of this was shown to us over the weekend in Charlottesville. It is bigger than those who carry torches. It exists and has existed in this country since the beginning.
Racial discrimination is something else. It is defined as the unfair treatment or bias against someone of a different race. So personal prejudices and acts of discrimination come from within each of us. Each of us has the power then to recognize this in our own hearts and change our habit/practice (our expression of it) if we choose.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
– Martin Luther King
Racial discrimination and prejudice is something I can work on. It’s in my heart whether I admit it or not. I can deny it, but that will only cause it to fester like unexpressed anger or fear. So while prejudice is not an emotion, it lives in my heart and yours too. Sorry, that’s an assumption I’m making because we’re all human and I bet each of us, no matter our skin color, practices it if only in the smallest ways.
We live in a society with societal norms and a political system that we have less control over (except with our votes, of course). I like to think we are an evolving species of good and kind people becoming better with each generation. I also like movies with happy endings and my favorite Christmas card says Peace On Earth. While I wonder why it is we only openly wish for peace at Christmastime.
We are experiencing extremely difficult times exacerbated by a president who seems to be feeding the system of racism that exists in our country. You may not agree with me but it’s hard to deny the people our president has chosen to surround himself with in his administration – Steve Bannon as a Chief Strategist (rumors run rampant he’s on his way out), Jeff Sessions who referred to a black man as ‘boy,’ and a whole lot of white, wealthy, and powerful businessmen. His legal immigration policies (speak English, have useful skills or get out) and his illegal immigration policies are why many voted for him. David Duke and the rest of the proud White Supremacy groups openly support his policies.
These are times when this system of racism in our country is growing stronger and many of us are fearful for what that means, no matter what our skin color is. We wonder what can I do?
Yesterday I wrote Silence is Not an Option and I said I didn’t know what to say or do. Today I have clarified some misconceptions and better understand the difference between racism and racial discrimination. The first feels overwhelmingly confusing making me feel as though there is nothing I can do. The latter makes me realize there IS something I can do and it starts with me.
Perhaps we should each ask ourselves, what selective color, bias or prejudice am I carrying inside my heart and will I choose to practice it or not?