There is a good chance that this post will be taken the wrong way.  So, I will begin with an atheist perspective on the different races that make up our planet.   (Note: I said “an” atheist perspective…not “the” atheist perspective) 

When you see people from a physiological perspective, you see every person the same way.  Genetically, our differences are so minute, that judging people based solely on color is counterproductive.

I believe racism is a learned behavior based upon the human brain’s instinct to seek patterns.  Let’s say you have three rooms, in each room – two toddlers and some toys.  One room has one white toddler and one black toddler, one has two black toddlers and one has two white toddlers.  While I have not tested this, I believe you will see similar behavior in all three rooms.  Kids either sharing or not sharing, playing together or not playing together…none of which is impacted by their race.  Of course, the children notice the differences, but they – at least at this age – play no role.

While humans are not inherently racist, we do inherently seek patterns.  Let’s go into the room with the white and black child.  Each child will act differently…that’s where the pattern seeking behavior kicks in.  Each child will likely associate any differences in play with the other child’s skin color.  Here is an example…again, this is just a thought experiment, so please don’t associate any scientific credence to it. The white child picks up a toy block and throws it across the room.  The black child picks up another toy block and puts it in his mouth.  If both children observe this behavior, there is a good chance that the black kid will associate white kids with throwing toys (especially if the thrown toy hits him/her) and the white kid will think that black kids put toys in their mouths. 

This does not mean that ALL black children put toys in their mouths – or ALL white children throw things – it is just a generalization based on observations and patters.  Sure, this stuff is trivial…but I think it shows how our brains can make meaningless associations simply using our desire to find patterns.

Okay – enough of that…and if you’re still with me…thanks! 

So, I take my kids to the pool a few times a week.  While at the pool last week, I struck up a conversation with a woman who is Polish.  I know very little about her…only that she is 60…she shares a birthday with my middle daughter…she now comes to the pool five times per week…and she was born in Poland and moved to the US as an adult.

While we were talking, a group of black kids came into the pool.  They were having a good time chasing each other, splashing around and doing normal ‘kids in the pool’ stuff.  They were also screaming and making a lot of noise – which was a little annoying.  I told the woman that I taught my kids at an early age not to scream in the pool because it makes the lifeguards nervous – but the kids were just having a good time.  What she said surprised me…she said, “I am not prejudiced, but I noticed that they are black and it seems in the US that these children are taught that rules do not apply to them.”  Here is a person who is as close to “the outside looking in” (which I think is a good way to be objective) – and she has come to this conclusion.  A conclusion she had no problem sharing with a stranger.

I have a hard time calling her statement “racist” – because I don’t believe she thinks any less of the children or their potential…in fact, her criticism wsa more toward their parents…and society in general.  I don’t think she would treat those children any differently than she would white children (or hispanic children, etc.). 

While I disagree with her, I can see where she’s coming from. I can see where someone would come to that conclusion, and it concerns me that this is what people see our society.

What do YOU think of her statement?  Is she right? Is she wrong?  How did she come to this conclusion?  How do you feel about someone who is on the “outside looking in” making this sort of association?

And…discuss…

//jb//

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