A similar experience d.c. people
- Publication date
A similar experience d.c. people: Imagine a lot of people have a similar experience as me but not a lot of white professors were talking about race.
- 2022-06-07 22:35:16
- Internet Archive Python library 3.0.1
- Some of you may have actually read. Her buck wire all the black children sitting together in the cafeteria. And she talks about racism with this moving walkway metaphor and actually just read a quote from her because it's been really helpful for me and thinking about passive versus active. Anti-racism. So she says. I sometimes visualize ongoing cycle racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same direction as those who are actively walking. Unless they're walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt. Unless they're actively anti-racist. You'll find themselves. along with others. So i'll be coming back to this metaphor throughout my talk and i want to think a little bit about. How has my journey and always been passive and what are the things that could have happened to make it a little bit more active longway. And hopefully in the discussion we can think a little bit together about. Your your journey does individuals with raise and maybe prairies journey of the community. So of course i had to put in a picture of me at. the kid so this is. Yeah with the prairie community about the horizons maybe around 2000 or something like that. And i can't tell you exactly what i was thinking at the time. Maybe you know appreciating the wonderful music maybe. Thinking about the turf that i'm sitting on butt. I can't tell you i probably wasn't thinking about race and i probably wasn't thinking about racism. So why is that. Why was i able to go through most of my childhood without thinking about race very much. I'm in the way i want to think about this is thinking about my race landscape so but by that i mean. What's the. Racial surroundings on who are the people around me and also what are the messages receiving about race. So i'll my community and my surroundings i had a predominantly white family definitely my nuclear family was white. I lived in monroe wisconsin which is a. Like 30 miles south of madison also prominently white. All my friends were right and my church as we know with also predominantly white. So what was school like also in school a lot of my education was from white sources. So that means my teachers were white but also. I can't tell you who wrote the textbooks that i can't tell you that i did learn a lot of black history i didn't learn history from an indigenous perspective. So a lot of things i was learning from a white one. In school. And what about the media is consuming i would say it was pretty anti-black so by that i mean they're a lot of santa box stereotypes that i was consuming. You know associating. Black people with. Interspecific like with drugs for example or with danger i think those kind of messages i was receiving a lot through the media and didn't have a lot of positive stereotypes of black people. And then so these are all kind of. Implicit messages i was receiving or what am i surrounded but i also want to think about the explicit messages i was getting about race. And i would say a lot of them were put in this colorblind category so things like you know color doesn't matter it doesn't matter. Or think about races in the past. And i definitely didn't learn anything about whiteness or what it meant to be white. I want to pause for a minute and just ask you to think and reflect about how do you feel right now in this moment as i'm talking to you about my racial landscape growing up. I mean i'd encourage you if you can to think about what it feels like in your body. So is there any tenseness anywhere. Are you sweating you feel disengage tired. Just take 30 seconds to reflect and then. Type in the chat. Thanks everyone for. Contributing and you can keep. Putting things in the chat as we go along. So people are saying you on easy i'm feeling tight and feeling tired sad. I want to know what true some people are really intellectualizing it so you know talking about the. Implications of it but like what does it really feel like in your body and i think it's important i'm it has been important for me. To come back to that as i'm thinking about race because a lot of times. It ends up being really in my head and not in my body or in my emotional side. So thanks everybody for sharing. So i want to take a little bit more into some of the explicit messages that i received about race and i kind of alluded to them but i want to. Start of digging to what was really going on there. So i'm one thing i've been thinking about is all the messages i received about equality. Between people of different racial backgrounds but without much contact so. Like everyone's equal no matter their color. I heard many times growing up both in prairie and insert of the general education. Martin luther king junior's i have a dream speech. I'm worried talks about. Dreaming about a day when his children will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. And here at prairie. We were talking a lot about the inherent worth and dignity of every person and i still believe in that and that's really important to me. But i think when we talk about these things on the subtle message can also be don't talk about race or don't talk about racial differences because we're trying to promote the idea that everyone is equal so we should kind of put race to the side. And it's confusing given the racial landscape that i talked about before. Receiving all this stereotypical anti-black media and also living in a white neighborhood i'm segregated so i know that you know if everything was it ever was people shouldn't you know. Aaron d living together why am i receiving all these stereotypical messages. So it's really missing is how do we make sense of the contradiction that we're saying everyone equal but when i look around me i see that people are not living in equal circumstances. And so. You know hint is ongoing structural racism right but without that contacts it can be confusing. And if you're saying everyone's equal but you don't see that. What message does that send. Another message i received was that racism is in the past. So again in prairie and also in my education i. When people talked about race they really focus on the civil rights movement. And examples of overt racism. They don't think there is much information on ongoing and current racism. Or current resistance movements to racism and so. What's missing from. This is racism happening now in the current moment and what are people doing about it right now. Because obviously the history of. I'm racial justice and racial justice movements is really key but i can't be the only thing that were talking. So sometimes i heard the message that. You know we shouldn't talk about race then when we did talk about race it seem like it was in the past. I'm sometimes we talked about it in the present but when that was the case off and i think. Racism was discussed as a personal issue that people of color. Are dealing with. So maybe we discuss prejudice. But it was always in the context of how is it affecting this person of color on the individual level. I do give an example. I'm probably in high school i did a project with prairie re. Where we interview people's coloring the congregation. I wouldn't ask this exact question but it kind of boiled down to how do you feel when people stereotype you right and now there was an important question we need to know that we need to think about it. But the message was that racism something one person goes to another person. And that you should not stereotype people was actually the message. But i think it was missing there was. What are the three types of a house let's dig into that looks figure it out how do i actively counter the stereotypes that i have how can we come in as a community. And actively practice how to counter them. Moana people gotten the pasta counter them so kind of like really getting into it beyond. You shouldn't stereotype. Also it was missing was. A higher understanding of how racism shaped institution has its shape society. So we're just thinking about racism at something someone does to someone else. You're missing all these other components of how it works. And i would say the other thing that was missing from this was. How does it affect me as a white person so how am i benefiting from these structures. In our society that are oppressing certain groups. And basically an understanding white privilege. Also how has white supremacy actually negatively impacted me to how is that harmed me as a white person. So just the kind of some of these messages. I was getting this message about equality without the context and that. The implicit message there is that. Race doesn't matter. We shouldn't be talking about race or thinking about race. I also received this message that racism is in the past we're going to focus on how people fought racism. In the civil rights movement. I'm not implicit messages that racism isn't relevant now in the current moment and you don't need anything about it right now as operating in the world. And then the message that racism. There's something that people colored. On an individual level. Random isn't relevant to me. It's not important. I think about in the current moment. So getting back to this. This metaphor of the moving walkway. Basically at this point i would say these messages. Are kind of keeping me to standing on the walkway. Knocking about race.. Trying to figure out what's going on but just possibly i'm moving on the walkway. So. Inex continue on to college i went to carleton college in northfield minnesota which is a liberal arts college and it was predominantly white. So how did my journey with race continue there. Thursday i was able to learn a lot about the impacts of racism during my college experience some of it was formal style. Person that took a course on an african american literature and film as able to learn a lot about common racist rope and part of the history of segregation in the us. Which i didn't learn in high school. I'll also have some informal discussions me or just hang out with friends white and non-white and talking about race. I think in that context they learned a lot more about. Structural interpersonal racism in we would talk alot about it. And so. This discussion denise formal learning opportunities are really counter-narratives to some of the implicit messages i've received as a kid. Because i was running race does matter it's really relevant and it's impacting people now. So there are a lot of. Positive experiences in my race journey during college but i would say overall. Reason racism we're not prioritize during my college education so. Examples of s. Coursework on race is not required for graduation and i think you know that still the case now. Discussion of race in science courses never really happened. I think i'm only now starting to realize how important that is cuz often it's sort of relegated to. Literature to history classes but. Race really permeates i am so you may know about the tuskegee experiments there's many other things that have happened along the way in science that have been extremely racist and so we need to incorporate those things into any learning to do about science. Also thinking back all of the classes that i took that the dispensaries. We're taught by people of color. So thinking about what is that. How does that inform the implicit messages i received. I think it does sort of prop them up right so. If you're not required to talk about race. To be considered an educated person you know telling you race doesn't matter. They telling you that racism is not relevant now. And. If i'm not seeing any samples of. White people who are committed to talking about race. Then that's kind of implicitly telling me racism is not relevant to me if only. It's the only people that are talking about other people is calling. So certain conclusion i was able to leave college without. Much knowledge about race or racism. And without having done a lot of self-reflection on my own race and my own role in racism. So getting back to the moving walkway at this point maybe i'm. Start of slightly aware that something's moving me. you know i'm seeing some people coming by me and the other direction but i don't really know what's going on i don't know where we're going and i'm not sure how this walkway works. So i want to take a moment to stop again at 4. Y'all to reflect a little bit what did you learn about race in high school or in college education and who are the people that taught you so. We're the only people of color were you only talk with inserted like an ethnic studies department. So take another moment to reflect and type in the chat. Thanks everyone for. Sharing your story and you can continue to type things out i just want to highlight. Something peggy said. History was there a white european lines in racing diversity voorhees add-ons. So 3/4 than anything else like multicultural literature month i've also definitely been my experience that it's kind of. A special thing that you talk about in a certain situation. People saying at the story of absence yeah. And i think that's kind of disturbing as me because this is an intergenerational service right and we're all saying no is kind of the same. Throughout the years we've all kind of had a similar experience.. Incoming change my twitches and really upsetting. Yeah so thanks. Thanks for sharing some people that have the chance to learn from people of color. But i would. Imagine a lot of people have a similar experience as me but not a lot of white professors were talking about race. So. Continuing on to my. The next step in my journey and we should d.c. to take a position in the lab and i would say. The white liberal conversations i'll just call it white liberal on a shorthand. That king that happened in college kind of continued so some of that was good some of it was bad. Good or not we're still discussing racism we're still trying to figure out how it works. So do my circles were predominantly white both in my science in my lab and also my social circle. But we did have our discussions about gentrification this was something that was actively happening in d.c. while he lives there. And also help disparities on especially in science is comes up a lot. So you're talking about these things. But i would say that i'm despite those conversations i still would say i was possibly being carried along on the moving walkway. I want to unpack that and figure out why is it that despite talking about it. I'm trying to think about it. Trying to learn more about it how was i still being possibly carried along. So anyway. Liberal discussion. I think they were often missing. A piece about internal racism so we showcased on. External manifestations of racism right things like okay but how is the structure working this institution is being racist. Things like you know this was i was there when donald trump was. I'm campaigning some things like you know what is the racist thing he just said. I didn't really look inward and figure out how am i racist. How am i still holding lot of stereotypes and actively contributing to the system. We also didn't make any commitment to action. So we talked a lot but we didn't say collectively hey we're going to do something. And there weren't a lot of people of color as part of the conversations. And i would say we generally kept things very intellectual so. There wasn't a lot of. Emotional. Component of the conversation not a lot of spiritual component of the conversation. So how did those things impact. The implicit messages that i talked about at the beginning. I would say in some ways they confirm them so. The fact that we as a group of predominantly white people. Felt like me sort of had the full. Perspective orchid like talk. In a way about race without considering. What are the perspectives were missing because there aren't a lot of people of color here and how does that you know blind us to potential pitfalls of our conversation. So that way we are kind of. Saying that race doesn't matter right because of the group of white people we can talk about this. I'm in an educated way and kind of come to all the conclusions that matter right. We also kind of confirmed that racism isn't relevant now because. If it was important now in the current moment and ongoing. We probably would have made some sort of commitment. To do something about it in the moment. And also by externalizing it and not thinking about it on a more emotional. Level. That confirms that we were thinking that racism is not really rubs relevant to us. So. Despite talking about it. The way that we are talking about it. Best passive. Caring along with the the white supremacist on walkway i guess i'll say. So i want to think a little bit about a turning point for me which is when race really became more relevant. I'm for me. And that was when i moved here to uc berkeley and i saw a number of instances of racial discrimination in grad school. And just became more aware of racial discrimination in general. So i'll tell you one story about a time when. I thought racial discrimination happening and my own privilege and how it played into that situation so. My first day of grad school in 2017. I was applying for a national science foundation fellowship. Which is. Basically money you get from the government to fund your research. And so. I asked the professor is in the class i was taking. If i could get an extension on the homework assignment that was due basically the same time as the fellowship was due. And i also said that my fellowship and said hey could you give me some comments if you have time some advice on my fellowship. And they said sure you can have the extension here's some comments that were super helpful. And so that was great and i talked to one of my friends who's puerto rican in the same year as me and she was also appliances fellowship. And i said oh my professor just emailed me this morning gave me this extension you should ask for an extension to. She sent an email asking for extension same day same fellowship same class and they denied her. And they said no you can't have an extension. And didn't give her any feedback on the fellowship. So as me tried to make sense of this the only answer we could come up with was that hey this is racial discrimination. And that was really frustrating for me really scary. And just put it in the context of this is my own privileged that work here i'm getting. This advantage both in terms of having more time to work on it and getting the feedback from knowledgeable professors. Stop my. My classmate didn't and i have this fellowship i'm currently using it to find my research and she isn't. So this is kind of a wake-up call to me and it's not the only one as i've talked to a lot of. Friends and her directly from professor like racist statements about my friends. Really. For lack of a better word i just woke up. So these stories showed me a whole world that i wasn't experiencing as a white person so just even by being friends with people of color. Hearing a lot about. Is whole other side of what it's like to navigate grad school or the scientific world in general as a person of color that there's nobody would know about as a white person cuz i would just kind of state above it not knowing all these things were going on. I'd rather people. So these stories were directly really revealing my privilege. Also making me angry because these people are my friends and i don't want them to be treated so unfairly. So i really need braces and feel more relevant to me. So now on this walkway i'm kind of noticing where we're going and i'm like i don't want to be part of this i don't want to go that way. So how do you move beyond that realization that this is a problem to. Figuring out your own internalized racism and making a commitment to do something about it. And two things are really important for me and again this is just my journey so this isn't what what will be important for everyone. But i went to two intensive workshops that really helped. Move my thinking and move my like emotional awareness along in terms of my relationship to to race. So one of them was a three-day workshop with robin diangelo. Who said he is waiting. And what it means to be white and how people respond to. Race. As white people. And then i also went recently this summer to a 7-day special development. From academics for black survival and wellness led by dr. dylan moseley in perris valley met who are. Counseling psychologist in academics. And. These workshops really gave me. Space and time and community. That was targeted towards self-reflection. I'm so lots of thinking about. How i'm responding what are the patterns that come out for me again and again when i talk about race. And how can we as a community. Fight those together. So. This really helped me better understand my own racism. And also make a commitment to black liberation. I mean what i mean by that is. Physically. Fighting for a day where all black people can. You know be at their fullest. Move about their lives without any oppression. I really was able to commit to that by taking the time and space to. To learn more and learn from these people who are experts in the field. Of course. There are a lot of stumbled along the way it's not a linear path at all. And i was want to highlight one example of issues that i've had along the way which is. A lot of times my initial responses to my friends stories were actually pretty racist so when people would tell me about determination that experience. My first reaction was and still is sometimes surprised and that really just comes from being naive. So like i was saying before the white person i don't have. These experiences of racial discrimination so. I was like wait did that really happen like is that really how the system works i don't know so. A lot of times i can be surprised. But the surprise and disbelief actually perpetuates racism right because. Your kind of silencing that person you're saying what happened your invalidating their experience. And then by not believing them you're not. Fighting to change those things. One thing that's really helped me in combating this instinct. To be surprised and not believe people. Is actually my work in sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention. For those of you that may be familiar with. Thought field. It's really important when someone reveal see that they've been harmed that you respond. In a certain way so you want to listen. You want to believe them you don't want to blame the victim for what they've experienced and when asked what they need an offer support. I'm trying to apply that framework from serve another set of. Racial and social justice movements. And apply that to how i think about racism. I went someone tells me that they've been harmed. I want to support them i want to listen and believe them. And so i know we're coming up on time but just want to. Play a little bit more about how i've gotten support as i've learned more about race and racism. I think again community is super important in this journey at least for me it's been very important in supporting my growth. So i'm part of this grad student group called inclusive ncb which is my department and we focus on increasing equity especially for people. You're normally underrepresented based on their race or ethnicity. So this group of people is community has been really great for me to push me to grow and holding me accountable so if i caused harm. Talking about it will work through it and i'll be committed to doing better because of this community that i'm in. I'm in it also just makes me excited to do racial justice work when i'm with a group of other people that are really excited about it. Also part of an accountability group of five white scientists that are working for racial justice. So we have weekly meetings where we. Are trying to read a lot of things learn all the things that we didn't learn in high school and college. Just practice talking about races it's really hard for white people. And each other accountable that we said that we were committing to action and making sure that we follow up on that. How contrary start to walk in the other direction what would that look like. Of course that's something that's going to take a lot of thinking and a lot of. Dedication. But. Here is how i like to think about my path. And maybe i can. I can help the horse as a scientist i have to put a graph somewhere in here so. But think about. Time on. The x-axis and. Start of song nebulous measure of anti-racist effectiveness on the y so maybe the number of things you're doing the quality of the. And serious efforts are doing so ideally you're going to have this great when your trajectory i'm just getting better and better more and more effective over time. Realistically you might think okay well that's you're not always going to be doing great maybe you'll have some slow time some. Times when things go well maybe it looks like this. Am i experienced my my journey has looked a little more like this. So. Sometimes it seems like you're going backwards sometimes you're not being effective at all you're causing harm. Your cycling back to things that you thought you figured out before and here i am again doing the same thing. So it's it's pretty. A convoluted journey there's a lot of different ways of learning a lot of times when. It's not very clear-cut. But it's important that you know you continue this work because silence also. Perpetuates racism. So. Prairie will have to figure out how many tribune eventually want to figure out what your path is. I'm to become more auntie basis until really commit to. Bring people from oppression. Here's just one example some of you may have heard. A few weeks ago on their protest after inn in louisville kentucky after. The news came out about going to taylor's taylor is not being charged for her murder. And in lewisville. Unitarian universalist church. Took in the protesters because it was past curfew. We provided food they provided. Water they gave them safe haven so that they can stay somewhere after curfew after they were protesting. Stars really moved by this and i think it's one example of what. Churches in what you use specifically can do in current moment. To help people that are fighting for racial justice. But there will obviously be internal work that prey has to do there's going to be a lot of different thing that individuals and prayer can do. So i just want to leave you with a few. I'm fox about what it's like to church. Wanted to be like to chart your journey so. I would say it's important to start with where you are now so try to do some kind of self-assessment. What is our history with race and racism what are all the resources that we have. And then thinking about what comes next. How you be sure that whatever work you do. It's entering the needs of black or other marginalized people and how he be accountable to them. And then how do you maintain urgency. And this is important because we know. .. Black people are dying and. Every every moment we don't do anything is really important. So one thing i'll say about my experience is that then why i kind of asked you to think about how you feel in your body is that often. I think about race i disconnect from my emotions. And my bodily reactions and so one thing that has helped me is music that can help me. Humanize the black experience and recommit to auntie racism and black liberation. So many people can tell me if i if we don't have time but i do have a short video. From shade diamond to the trans activist. And and singer songwriter and just want to. Give me the chance to hear from someone who has inspired me and see if if you feel the same as okay if you don't. But. Just finding ways to stay committed and stay inspired as you go and you continue your journey with race. So yeah i'd like to take any questions comments and discussion. I guess before that i just wanted to make have a few acknowledgements just to the people that help me think a lot about this. Yasso. I guess. Just some some friends from grad school lots of organizers for the different workshops that i've attended in the. Current accountability group that i'm part of. Thank you so much. I think one of the things that. I meant by that is that we really need to know that history. So when we're studying science. I'm realizing that you know some of the discovery some of the things that were that were. We are being taught in that were using our science our kind of had this racist. History, that they were really developed. In order to separate people so like genetics genomics has been used. 2. Try to separate people by race which that's basically been debunked that. No racial group racial groups are not different genetically. And it's completely a social constructs but we don't talk about that in science and how important it is in our science communication. To make sure that we're getting a point across. But you're right i think there are places to talk about racing science so like i said he stressed. And how the environment impacts on behavior. And so there's racial trauma that people of certain races have because of the social system. That on their place in the factory biology right so there are biological differences but it's not inherent it's because of the racism that people are experiencing more you know differences in nutrition differences in health outcomes because doctors don't listen to. Do black people and they don't believe that they're in pain for example. So. Now there's a lot of ways that races important in science but. Definitely making sure to debunk a lot of the old and still ongoing myths about race and science to thank you. And i think this is something that. Comes up a lot thinking about races that there's a lot of white guilt. So when we. When we think about you know all the things that white people have done and all the things that we're not doing. Darken even get in the way of making progress because it is again about you. So yeah i feel that i struggle with that too. And it's something that i think a lot of people struggle with. But we need to find a way to move past it because it's important. Thanks everybody for listening and i look forward to our conversation.