I’ve been thinking a lot about race and racism lately and came across this interesting exercise. It is supposed to get us thinking about the subtle ways that we participate in groupings and racial perceptions.
So, try it out.
To make the exercise most effective, ask yourself the following set of questions, then try to spend time examining your emotional reactions, and then try to capture your rawest thoughts as they unfold:
1. Do you believe in the segregation of races?
2. Do you believe that students should be bussed across county lines to create diverse high schools?
3. How would you feel if you had one neighbor who was from another race?
4. How would you feel if you lived in a neighborhood where you were the only member of your race?
Well, the questions are supposed to be progressive, as you can see. The first question seems antiquated, but only fifty years ago this was the conventional wisdom of our society.
The second question pushes the envelope some more. It gets at a person’s willingness to intentionally create a diverse and multicultural society. I found myself more saying yes, thinking that the value of intercultural relationships is more important than convenience (a core value of our society).
The third question should also seem like a no-brainer. Again, this was one issue no long ago that conjured up volatility in our communities. I suspect while our general attitudes have changed in this area, the issues of interracial neighborhoods lies active and awake just beneath the surface of our society.
This fourth question packs the most punch. If your answer was something along the lines of, ‘it would not bother me’, you are either one of those rare new globalized people or you are somehow fooling yourself. For me, to ponder this hypothetical conjured up a host of emotions of which I was completely unaware. The vivid sense of otherness that I imagined placing upon my majority neighbors reminded me that while I believe in equality and fairness for all people, my perception of other peoples is fully loaded with fears and stereotypes that I often avoid in my small white rural town.
I wonder, how were the questions for you? What did you find? Were the questions though-provoking, or did you find them unhelpful?