Original Sticks and Stones Post
Racism and prejudice are wicked roots that one can never truly see the impact of how deep and widespread they permeate our culture. Psychologically speaking, the two together; action and attitude, have as much effect on the target group/ person as affect on the racist(s). Meaning, although one is aware of the ill effects of racism and prejudice, it becomes unconscious habit to try to minimize the ‘points of contention’. This happens even if one has self-esteem, loves their race, and disregards overt racist sentiments as ignorant. Ones actions are still tempered by years of culturally dominant prejudiced mentalities. One is always worried about how their actions will be perceived through a ‘race-lens’ and subconsciously (consciously for some) act accordingly.
In Georgia, I find myself acting and socializing as if in America. I notice that how I act or anticipate people to act is based on my association and relationships with non Black peoples in America. That’s not to say that I think most non-Black people in America are prejudiced. I know for a fact that is incorrect. But everyone (at least Southerners) still lives with the spectre of racism and its historical weight in their lives and have been socialized by it; whether unbeknownst to or embraced by them, and act accordingly.
Before coming here, I read various blogs about anti Black sentiments here or an aversion to people of dark skin complexion. I do know there is a big problem with harassment facing the women of the West and I conclude (and have heard from them) that is only compounded with being a Black women.
But as far as racism or prejudice goes in Georgia, from my own observations and interactions, I have not experienced or felt it. And when I say ‘feel’ it. Living in America and being Black, that’s exactly what it is before any tangible or blatant signs…a feeling.
As said before in a previous blog, Georgians have no history to base animosity or racist ideology towards Black peoples. That’s not to say that racism is beyond their grasp. They have their own baggage to bear in that category with other ethnic groups. But in regards to Black people, I feel/ felt nothing that even closely resembles racism or prejudice. The stares I get are purely from a curious interest. As trite as this might sound, I can simply tell by the look in their eyes.
** And I have been pleasantly surprised by my #43 crew, too. The ones who I hang out with are more ‘colorblind’ than a lot of people I have known in the States. And that’s very refreshing.**
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, Free at last!”
I Have A Dream Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963