If you are absolutely sure you are not a racist then you need to read this story, because you are wrong. We are all racist. And sexist. Yes, both and more because we live in a society that insists on categorizing people into little boxes that define who they are and what they are capable of doing. Until the day we all stop tying our expectations about a person to the race we perceive (or gender, or ethnic background, or…) we will remain racists. All of us.
Race is not real. It’s a label our society has dreamt up for creating categories of “other” people that are frequently used so we can think less of them. It’s classism. How hard is it to listen and respond when a person tells you what race they are? Or what gender they are? It should be no harder to do than hearing a person’s name and getting the pronunciation correct.
Which is to say hard. Because getting to know another person takes work. Sometimes you’ll hear a name that’s unfamiliar and it will take several tries to get it right. That’s your brain having trouble fitting this person into a category it already knows. Good. Do the work. Learning about another person and their ways of experiencing the world are time well spent. Sometimes you’ll hear a common name and your brain will have no trouble getting it right. Warning. You still haven’t done the work of learning who this person is. You have likely made some assumptions about them that are wrong.
Thanks for listening. Now, please, carry on and make fewer assumptions about the world around you. Do the work of seeing what is in front of you. Look past the surface to really see.