I was inspired to tackle this subject after reading an interesting post on the subject, by dcup on June 13. She confessed to having been raised in a mildly racist atmosphere, and has since rejected that influence and is stridently anti-racist today. I’m not sure if the word “racism” is the correct one to use in my post, since the technical definition of racism is “a doctrine of racial superiority,” according to my Merriam-Webster Scrabble Players Dictionary (the only one I can find, right now). I think that most of us think of racism as a dislike (or hatred) of people of other races. It is also used interchangeably (and inappropriately) with “prejudice.”
(An aside…I was looking for “prejudice” in the dictionary and accidentally saw the word “priapism, a persistent erection of the penis.” Now I’m all distracted.)
Okay, back to business. “Prejudice” is the act of judging beforehand. I think that prejudice is a natural and very common human trait. We tend to have a feeling that people who look different from us probably are different from us. Then, depending on various experiences, and teaching from family and friends, negative or POSITIVE connotations may take hold in our psyches. Everyone knows that “white men can’t jump” and “blacks have rhythm,” along with countless other generalizations.
I also believe that most people of various races tend to associate more with people of their particular color than with others. I always think of the term, “birds of a feather flock together,” when I observe this. The white ducks in our pond tend to hang out with the other white ducks, instead of the grey and green mallard ducks, who hang out with other mallards. I don’t think they are racists. When I was a freshman in a California college, I lived in the dorms. My roommate, Carol, was a black girl, very, very smart, with perfect deportment. We became close friends. When we were together, she spoke perfect English (much better than my mid-west tainted dialect) and was always discreet and genteel. But when she wanted to relax and let it all hang out, she visited with several other black girls. She told me it felt good to be able to "talk broad" (kind of a southern dialect) and not be self-conscious. She took me with her once, and I felt uncomfortable, just because the atmosphere was so different from what I was used to.