You are on page 1of 2

Kelsey Morris

One Pager #1 on Race and Racism


May 20, 2018

As a privileged, white woman raised in America, I am sometimes racist. In the words of


Katherine Fritz, “I’m not proud of that statement…I don’t want to be racist…But I have been known to
say or do clueless, ignorant, or hurtful things before, because of a subconscious prejudice against people
who don’t look like me” (Fritz, 1). Her blogpost particularly evoked a surge of realization of my
ignorance and lack of responsibility for my actions. I enjoyed reading and breaking down her argument
because we share similar situations. I am a liberal, white woman, who could count the number of black
classmates I’ve had on one hand, now attending a huge, diverse university, where my last intention is to
be racist, yet every preconceived notion embedded in my subconscious says otherwise. I even repeated
her “Facebook friends” study on myself to find the percentage of my social circle that is comprised of
other white people…95 percent…and she thought her stats were terrible. That means that, if I decide to
go on Facebook that day, only 5 percent of the posts I read, videos I watch, pictures I see, are
representative of minority voices and opinions. Now conscious of the bias, I’m deterred from opening up
the app, and have searched for other platforms to read my news. But what I’ve learned: bias is
everywhere. It’s in the articles, it’s in the headlines, it’s in the comments section, and I can’t help but see
it now for what it is. Most people, despite their good intentions, are not immune from being
discriminatory.
This leads me to the most important idea that I’ve taken from all of these readings:
“…widespread discrimination is not necessarily a sign of widespread conscious prejudice”
(Mullaninathan, 3). This new interpretation intrigued me. I was confused and shocked to see research
findings show that employers who decided callbacks obviously on racial bias did not believe they were
being racist. With further reading, it was made clear to me why. Many white people confine racism to
personal, intentional displays of racial hostility, where for racial minorities, it is more about the
impersonal everyday biases towards their race as a whole (Blake, 2). And this is where those comments at
the end of articles make me so frustrated. Most of the comments on Macy Sto. Domingo’s “18 Things
White People Seem To Not Understand” were from white people (stated in their comments) who were in
complete disagreement. One reader voiced her opinion about how no one has lived her life to know if she
had any privileges of any kind, while another reader denies the existence of discrimination towards people
of color because of his personal experiences being bullied in a predominately black school. One
commenter goes as far as to ironically say that African Americans are automatically born into a
“protected class”. I think Doreen E Loury, director of the Pan African Studies program at Arcadia
University addresses this conundrum quite well in his statement, “The first thing we must stop doing is
making racism a personal thing and understand that it is a system of advantage based on race” (Blake, 3).
The tone of these comments brought me back to a specific day of senior year in AP U.S.
Government class when we were performing mock debates. Ten people were randomly chosen to debate
Affirmative Action, and I was placed on the supporting side. My classmate on the negative side began her
argument with, “I don’t understand how you can tell me that accepting a black girl into Harvard with
grades the same or even worse than mine, and rejecting me is fair.” I will never forget the tension,
confusion, and empathy I felt for the single African American girl in our class who, with the rest of the
audience, was not allowed to interrupt or help either side. I do not remember my side’s exact response or
who actually won that debate. All I can remember is the feeling of frustration, not knowing how people
could not see the purpose of policies like Affirmative Action, and not being able to put my words into
strong argumentation. If I could go back and have the perfect response, it would be this incredibly
intelligent analogy crafted by Nicholas Kristof in his article “When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 4”:
We’re in a relay race, relying on the financial and human capital of our parents and grandparents.
Blacks were shackled for the early part of that relay race, and although many of the fetters have
come off, whites have developed a huge lead. Do we ignore this long head start — a facet of
white privilege — and pretend that the competition is now fair? (3)
I am grateful for the weeks of reflection I have spent on these articles because I now understand the
importance of acknowledging my own bias. Although I will never fully understand what it means to be
Kelsey Morris
One Pager #1 on Race and Racism
May 20, 2018

discriminated against in almost all aspects of life, I will not choose to ignore the struggles of those that
do.

Works Cited

Blake, John. “The New Threat: ‘Racism Without Racists’” CNN. 27 Nov. 2014.

Domingo, Macy Sto. “18 Things White People Seem To Not Understand (Because, White Privilege)”
Thought Catalog. 5 April 2014.

Fritz, Katherine. “Race Ya.” I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog. 27 Nov. 2014.

Kristof, Nicholas. “When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 4” The New York Times. 15 Nov. 2014

Mullainathan, Sendhil. “Racial Bias, Even When We Have Good Intentions” The New York Times. 3 Jan.
2015.