Does Race Matter?

While I have become increasingly politically aware and informed as I’ve matured through my 30s and now 40s, I don’t tend to write about politics. Quite frankly, those discussions make me a little uncomfortable because of their incredible complexity and charge. Necessarily, though, the socio-political issue of race which seems to have taken over the airwaves because of the 2008 presidential campaign is one that we can’t ignore.  And so I will carefully throw in my “5 cents” (yes, it is worth more than 2 in my opinion) as the coming week progresses.

Nonetheless, you should know that I will not approach the issue in a politically partisan or non-partisan way. As an African-American woman, it is true that I have experienced much discrimination and racism in my lifetime. But I am concerned for the many Blacks (especially women) who have been “discriminated against” by their own. The pain that results from the rejection one feels by not being accepted by those supposedly within your circle sometimes hurts worse than the rejection felt by those without. As a result, feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred can ensue, causing one to “lose their identity” or wish they were somebody else. This is an especially troublesome issue for young Black girls.

I want to address this issue because it is real; I experienced it. I want to address this issue because I have a daughter. I don’t want her thinking that because she has a certain skin tone and a certain texture of hair that that makes her to be “this” (whatever “this” is). I want her to be able to deal with the very real possibility that she may be hurt by her own. And I want her to be able to handle it. So within these posts will be my hashing out of an “ideology” I will communicate to my daughter as she is growing up…so that she will better understand those “matters” of race.

I invite you to join me in the evolution of this discussion…

2 comments

  1. Nicki says:

    I totally connect with what you are saying. I have a 12 yr old daughter, who is in a private education, and your concern is something I think about all the time, to the point of thinking whether we did the right thing of placing her in private education. My ‘past’ has also been marked by having incredibly negative experiences with my own (especially Black women) so much so that I find it difficult to have long sustaining relationships (platonic!!) with Black women. Would you believe, that so far, my ‘best’ friends are with women outside my race!! And sometimes I believe the Almighty is really trying to tell me that I have to take people as they come. And when it comes to my kids, I have tried hard not to breathe on their mirror – they must know who they are and where they come but at the same time they must not be controlled or dominated by race – but it aint been easy!

    Blessings to you.

  2. KWiz says:

    Hi Nicki,

    Thank you for your comment Nicki.

    I teach in an independent school where people of color are the minority (of course). I also grew up in a predominately White environment. However, as I know I will be sending my daughter to private school, I don’t think sending her to private school is not “the right thing.” While she may not be able to experience the diversity she’d get in public education, she may be getting more; the ability to deal with others who are not like her. In addition, others get to experience her and all of who she is as well.

    I experienced the same thing you experienced with Black women as well, and I just think it is so sad. Being in competition with one another is so counterproductive.

    I love your statement that you “try hard not to breathe on their mirror.” What a wonderful word picture! I will remember that as I’m raising our dear almost 3 year old…

    And it’s not easy. While race can’t be the lens through which we view life all the time, it can get difficult when the first time she hears of it is outside your own home. Several weeks ago, my daughter said something about someone being a “Black man.” My husband and I hadn’t taught her about skin color in that way; only teaching her that her skin was beautiful and her hair was beautiful. So then we had to start teaching it in our way.

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