According to this Washington Post article, published yesterday, 3 in 10 Americans admit to race bias. Key word..ADMIT. I’d be willing to argue that the number is considerably higher, but since when is it cool to admit that you have racist feelings?
I remember in high school, we took a trip the Museum of Tolerance, which pays tribute to the Holocaust victims and survivors. At one point during the tour, we were asked to pick a door to go through. One door had ‘Prejudiced’ plastered across the frame, the other said ‘Not Prejudiced.’ Naturally everyone (including me) headed for the ‘Not Prejudiced’ door, only to find that it was locked. Nobody could go through that door because, essentially, nobody is free from prejudice in some way, shape form or fashion.
This resonated with me because I realized at that point that no person is truly free from prejudiced or racist thoughts. Regardless of the intent behind it, I think we’ve all at least thought something rude when the Asian man cuts you off on the road, or when you’re trying to order food at McDonalds but your order gets jacked up because the person behind the window doesnt speak English.
Racism is still alive and kicking in America. Obama did an excellent job of explaining this during his speech in Philadelphia a few months ago, but unfortunately it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Racism is something that plagues our country, and despite how unpopular it has become to be openly racist, the sentiment is most definitely there. I find it interesting, but not surprising, that more people were not willing to admit it during the study referenced in this article. Maybe they all need to take a trip to the Museum of Tolerance and get the same rude awakening that I got.
Yes, I’ve had racist feelings. Yes, I’ve thought rude things about people of all races and ethnicities (including my own). Am I a racist? Absolutely not! But that doesn’t excuse me from buying into the stereotypes and negative feelings that American culture conditions us to embrace. The sooner my fellow Americans acknowledge and accept this painful fact, the sooner we will be able to get past the racial tensions that hold us back, and move on. The movie ‘Crash’ depicted it the best. Our subconscious prejudices direct our behavior more than we realize.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in this historical presidential election…