Influence of Race as it Relate to My Community Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1568 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Race

Community Race Relations

OBSERVATIONS of RACE RELATIONS in MY COMMUNITY

In Riverside and many other Southern Californian communities, elements of the same racial tension that erupted in riots in 1991, after the acquittal of the police officers involved in the infamous Rodney King beating, still prevail. In some respects, passive racism is more prevalent among minorities than among non- minorities. I do not think that my experiences and observations are unique to my community, except to the extent that it dictates the likelihood of my encountering individuals of specific minority communities.

As a non-minority Caucasian male, I regularly have the opportunity to collect data relating to the apparent perceptions and assumptions made about me, and data collected in the form of my effort to consider interactions involving me as objectively as possible, as they transpire. My first-hand experiences are, by definition, hardly "objective" in the clinical sense; and they are, necessarily, limited to interactions where one party involved is a Caucasian male.

Interracial Interactions Involving a Non-racist Caucasian Male in My Community:

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realize that many people who consider themselves to be non-racist are genuinely unaware that they harbor elements of passive racist sentiments, assumptions, and expectations about others in their communities (Perreault & (Bourhis, 1999). It seems equally true for non-minority individuals as for minority individuals. In some ways, minorities seem to consider themselves somewhat immune to accusations of being racist, as a result of having been victims of racism.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Influence of Race as it Relate to My Community Assignment

One could characterize it as a feeling that victims of racism are entitled to greater leeway in terms of what conduct can fairly be considered racist. For just one very timely example in the national media involving Isiah Tomas, I cannot help but try to imagine the intensity of the public outcry if a white man in the exact same position expressed the same idea, that he would be more offended hearing a black man refer to a white woman as a "*****" than he would hearing another white man do the same (Ridley, 2007).

If anything, minority community leaders seem to exacerbate this type of passive racism by specifically exploiting racial identity for community support instead of promoting attitudes consistent with extinguishing race-based identity. In my opinion, racial pride and racial prejudice are one and the same, differing in degree rather than in kind. Like all politicians, minority community leaders often say and do whatever will enhance their popularity rather than necessarily doing what is most beneficial for the communities they represent.

Obviously, overtly racist individuals are irrelevant to this study, except in their proportional representation in the community. Luckily, I have less first-hand experience with overtly racist people, although I have encountered unapologetic racists from my own race as well as from racial minorities in my community. In my experience and opinion, overt racism will continue to represent the attitudes of a certain percentage of this community and most others, and they are not likely to change their attitudes over time, regardless of where they live.

Some of the most troubling interracial encounters that I experience involve the black elderly. In general, I have always been very respectful of elderly people, and I routinely bend over backwards to hold doors, give up the usual rights of way, allow them to enter and exit in front of me, and pick up anything they should happen to drop in my vicinity. That an elderly person be of any particular race simply does not enter my mind. When I have the opportunity of such an interaction with elderly white people, they almost always express their gratitude very simply and appropriately.

Sometimes, that is exactly what happens when the elderly person involved happens to be black. However, much more often, I notice that elderly black people seem to anticipate that I will not be particularly polite to them, and then clearly seem at least mildly surprised when I am. Just yesterday, I shared an elevator with one elderly white woman and one elderly black woman. When the elevator reached the lobby, the white woman seemed, from her body language and eye contact, to expect that I would allow her to exit first, which I did, of course. However, even after witnessing that I had done so for the white woman, the black woman waited for me to make a gesture indicating that I expected her to exit before me. She also emphasized the first word in thank you, whereas the white woman said it more flatly, which (to me) seemed consistent with surprise, and non-surprise, respectively.

Likewise, I tend to make eye contact with sales people and counter service providers and to conduct my end of interactions with them considerately and politely, in general, at least partly because I notice that so many other people either treat them disrespectfully or impatiently. While almost all of them (except the more attractive females) seem at least slightly surprised by my politeness or by the fact that I usually say "Hi" or "How you doin'?," I do notice that minority salespeople seem significantly more surprised in those situations as well.

Finally, I have also come to notice that elderly black man often avert their eyes and immediately look down when our eyes meet, sometimes, so quickly that I have no chance to express my respect for them. I understand that they may associate with their experiences with young adult white males of their era, but it is something I always experience as depressing when it happens. In my experience, it seems that among non-minorities (i.e. white people), passive racism is less prevalent. Without examining (or commenting at all about) the incidence of overt racism in the white community, I have noticed that white people tend to be either racist or non-racist, in their everyday interactions. Personally, I have the same thoughts and feelings about dangerous-looking or "low-life" white people as about their black counterparts.

Where non-racist white people may differ amongst each other, it tends to be more related to whether they make certain distinctions in their personal lives (i.e. dating and family) and their social interactions within society in general. I would say it is not uncommon for white people to draw the line of their color blindness at welcoming a minority individual into their family, which, if dictated by racial identity qualifies as racist, obviously. But white people who are overtly racist seem more likely to ignore race completely in everyday social interactions.

I have also experienced overtly antagonistic racism by black males and females closer to my own age, ironically, triggered by my attempts to be polite to elderly black people. On several occasions, I have gone out of my way (as always) to hold doors for elderly black people, only to hear sarcastic remarks from nearby black people of my own age. Typically, this happens when I happen to be the only white person in the confined area of an elevator or a checkout counter and the comments either said directly to me or intended for me to overhear - invariably suggest that my politeness is a function of my fear now that I am the minority in the room.

In my limited experience, I would have to say that in ordinary interactions between strangers, I have noticed that Hispanic and Asian people also seem to have some degree of expectation that I may have racist tendencies; but from my perspective, it seems to me that they wait for cues from me that might provide some indication of my sensibilities and attitude toward them before assuming the worst. In my honest experience, it seems that when I encounter black people in identical situations, they are more likely to assume I have racist sentiments, presumptively.

It is difficult for me to connect my experiences to the different way minorities and non-minorities are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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