by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson
Disclaimer: The thoughts and ideas presented in this very long post do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the blog owner, or any of the blog affiliates. The piece chronicles my journey from being anti-white, to grudging tolerance, to what I am working toward now – full acceptance of all people, regardless of race. The thoughts below are not necessarily what I believe now – but they are all beliefs I have held at some time or another.
If you are already threatened by any perceived anti-white sentiments on this site, you may want to stop reading now. However, if you want to explore issues that some PoCs have with white people (as more than a few of my sentiments are shared) and why it is important to acknowledge and overcome these ideas, read on. I’ll be checking in throughout the day to respond to questions and comments, as this is such a provocative topic. — LP
How do racists think?
Where do their racist beliefs come from? How do they continue to justify their beliefs in our increasingly multi-culti society?
For me, finding the answers to these questions are easy.
All I have to do is look inside of myself.
The reason I am involved with racial activism today, the motivation behind wanting to build bridges and understanding between different groups of people, the reason I found Racialicious in the first place all stems from one thing: my intrinsic bias against white people.
The bias I acquired – and the racist behavior I engaged in due to that bias – was fostered in two ways.
First, there was anti-white sentiment reinforced by my family, who had experienced all kinds of problems interacting with white society. Starting with my great-grandmother claiming African-American heritage in lieu of her actual Native American heritage (effectively choosing a life marred with prejudice over possible extermination) and ending with my mother’s instructions on how to navigate a world that is hostile to people of color, my family holds a deep mistrust against white people.
Second, there is the reinforcement by my community. Many people of color harbor some sort of bias or issue with white people. It could be subtle comments about differences or insulation within one’s own community or outright hatred – the undercurrent of bias exists, and is actively reinforced by the PoC community.
My understanding of race in America came to me through lessons. The lessons that were taught to me, all by well meaning people, were attempts to shield me from internalizing hatred for the self. I learned at a very early age to question all things taught to me by white establishments – to watch what I learned in school, because they would tell me that Columbus was a hero, that the US was infallible, and that the only Negro worth knowing was Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here’s an example of one such lesson:
White people have no history. They have spent their time on earth consumed with hatred and anger, releasing their hatred on the more civilized people of color, destroying empires and technological insights with their greed. They are inherently cruel and destructive.
Does that sound strange? Ridiculous even? How can a person reasonably claim that white people have no history, that an entire race of people are inherently cruel and destructive? It just doesn’t make logical sense!
And yet, society perpetuates the same ideas. Society teaches that people of color have no history outside of slavery, or white dominance. If there were historic accomplishments made by people of color, they are not important enough to note in history books.
Think about your education.
How much do you know – that you learned in primary and secondary school – about the history of other nations? How much time did you focus on European history and American history? How did your curriculum treat African, Arabic, and Asian (including South East Asian) history? Did you get one year out of twelve devoted to learning about other nations? (I did – it was a course called Modern World History.)
Many Americans are unaware that our history is told from a skewed perspective. People of color only exist in the context of white people – slavery, the Opium Wars, the Alamo, the building of the Panama Canal…major history lessons are learned with white people at the forefront. With that type of world view, are we really surprised when people hold on to erroneous ideas like Blacks benefited from slavery? Continue reading