My Takes

It's Just My Take

Is It A Black Thing?

imagesA few weeks ago I was having a chat with my 16 year old cousin about school.  We were talking about his gym activities when he mentioned to me that he was one of two black kids in his class.  No biggie there.   Then he added that when they picked teams, the gym teacher would make sure they were not on the same team.  Interesting and funny at the same time.

This is a perfect example of how we are programmed to see people by their color and culture even though we repeat the same rhetoric about not seeing each other as color but as people.  That’s also why remnants of racism will always stay among us.  The gym teacher did nothing wrong in separating the only two blacks in his class.  It seemed the natural thing to do, like not putting the two tallest players on the same basketball team.  He didn’t see the boys as just two people but as two black kids.  Just like not seeing the tallest guys as just people but two very tall guys.

Now because we see color or race first, yes we do, when we see someone who is not one of ‘us’ our brain immediately goes into a type of racial profiling.  For example, if we see a group of athletes with one black guy among them, we automatically think the black guy is superior.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t.  We still would place bets on the black guy.  If we open our doors to find a turbaned guy standing there, our first reaction is fear.  Our first thought?  Terrorist.  Would we react the same if a Chinese guy was standing there?  Probably not.

So my point is, as much as we work hard and profess to work hard at tearing down barriers, we keep putting up new ones.  And while we tear down the obvious ones, our own mental barriers remain intact and impenetrable.   In my opinion, as long as we are humans, these barriers will exist.  Can we end racism?  Heck no!  As long as there are different races, there will be racism.  Tell them I said so.  Our minds are racist.  It’s how they are wired.  Don’t bother with the “Oh I don’t see color, I see the man” crap.  Unless you are blind, you do see color.  When you do, your brain unconsciously feeds you data on the particular stereotype.  Nothing is wrong with that.  Now what you do with that information is what makes  defines who you are.  You could override this automatic stereotyping by letting the person influence what you think of him or you could allow your mind to dictate how you react to him because of his racial profile.  That would be ignorant.  Racism is a product of ignorance.

If you accept and embrace the differences in the people you share this earth with then you could say without any ill intention that ‘it is a black thing’.  And it’s quite ok if you don’t understand.

Hey, it’s just my humble opinion.  Don’t hate.


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6 thoughts on “Is It A Black Thing?

  1. Maybe the gym teacher doesn’t see colours…..maybe those 2 kids happen to be the most talented athletes in the class regardless of their colour? If it was his first time meeting them and he jumped to that conclusion than I might agree with you, however since he’s known these students for awhile I’m sure he separates them for a reason. If one of them was a clumsy asthmatic boy I doubt he would much care who was on who’s team. Let’s not be so quick to pull out the race card….

    • Ahem! You totally missed the angle of the post. It’s not knocking the teacher or accusing him/her of being a racist. It’s an example of how easily it is for us to unconsciously make decisions based on the color of one’s skin without having bad intentions. Read it again and thanks for dropping in!

  2. I would agree that we see differences, but I don’t know if there’s any way of knowing in the outwardly innocent example of the gym teacher if there is any negative connotation.

    I’m white, my good friend and manager Glenn was black. One day his manager pushed him over the edge and Glenn stomped out of the office. I had never seen him so angry. Being that we were both nearing fifty and black men historically have blood pressure issues, I was more concerned than I would have been if he was white. Is that racism, or just knowing our differences?

    I make decisions based on a variety of things, sometimes one of them is race. I don’t believe the word “racist” applies unless the decisions are negatively attached to issues that have nothing to do with the color of someones skin. If I decided one person is a better singer based not on their voice but their race, that would be racist. If all the singers I like happen to be black, that might not be racist.

    • I doubt the gym teacher’s act had negative connotations. Saying this, I do cheer for the black singers in American Idol and it’s usually because they are black and I feel a personal attachment to them. It’s just an automatic thing.

      In your friend Glenn’s example, it was indeed a black thing. Blacks are indeed prone to HBP. And that’s what I’m talking about, recognizing the differences.

      I appreciate the comments!

  3. You’re right. People will always notice colour differences. They may even make certain choices based on colour and there is nothing wrong with that. It is when people discriminate because of hatred for people of different races that makes it wrong.

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