۞Be aware of the semantic leap that may seem to you to be the thing to do, but may also cause more confusion; From what this writer has observed, there is often a “knee jerk” response when European Americans hear of persons of color complaining about racism or their lack of resources, or just about anything else. That response goes like this: “Look, I’m tired of always having to be politically correct around these people—I don’t care if they’re black, white, red, or yellow, I’m going to say what’s on my mind!” Thinking they are the kind of people who ‘just calls ’em as they see ’em’ using this excuse to deny racism as a defense mechanism. “I don’t know why they are so overly sensitive about how they’re treated. Yet they want to blame me—slavery has been gone a long time, and none of my ancestors had any slaves. They just need to get over it and move on!” This writer would reply, “Yes, but your ancestors weren’t subjected to the Middle Passage genocide.”
When a European American responds this way, they’re not validating the other person’s existence, choosing to think that it never happened, They are continuing to write the American narrative of the story of racism that has been with us from the time that whites first came to the Americas. All of these very common everyday happenings drive the wedge in even deeper, the conflict may be so deep that communication is permanently scarred and there is very little anyone might be able to do to change it..
This may also be a political and religious defense from those who don’t want to sit down and have a conversation with someone who is different from them. They use this as a part of their defense system to cover up Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance comes into play when we hear new information that we haven’t known before. We are then faced with a choice: This has nothing to do with anyone’s intentions, but it’s a matter of not being aware at various levels of consciousness. They feel some sympathy to try a new way, instead of pushing it out of the way and going on with their lives but this must be at the “gut level;” or there is the option to question our own conditioning, put it away somewhere, and expose ourselves to this new information in order find a different way of thinking and acting.
۞Americans of European descent must find strategies and interventions to help other European Americans and to develop relationships based on the goal of authentic communication; what we as an ethnic group (by the way this writer thinks that the term often used on forms–Caucasian–is outmoded and irrelevant to those of us now living in Texas) must act with respect, fairness, equity, and with a give-and-take attitude:it’s not the job of persons of color to teach whites about racism—they’re tired of that and they don’t want the responsibility we place on them to do so.. Any way, since we are the progenitors of the white-dominated social structure, and receive its privileges, then it’s our job and obligation to do the work or de-constructing and-learning new skills to more effectively engage in intercultural communication and interaction. This will not be an overnight process, but each of us has to start somewhere. As we put it into practice, it’s clear that we may prevent some of the conflicts that happen between white people and persons of color or with a class different from our own.
©Christopher Bear-Beam October 25, 2011