My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Silent Racism

I’ve lived in the South off and on throughout my life, but this is the first time that I’ve really immersed myself in what I would consider the “Deep South”. There is still a very distinct divide between the races here, although no one is allowed to talk about it. Instead they just watch each other through the corner of their eyes, cautiously check on each other to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to, and always make sure to treat each other with purposeful distance.

The public areas are still segregated, with some general overlap and a couple of people who have crossed the race lines. A high percentage of the older generations still act as if things could go back to “the way things were” at any moment. It’s an odd, discomforting feeling to be around those who see each other so disdainfully, yet wont ever voice that opinion. The silence truly is deafening.

Maybe I am sensitive because I have seen a different way. While living in several other places within the US, I noticed that the racism or bigotry was more socioeconomic - with persons of one class looked down on another. These classes usually were inhabited by a single race, but were not defined by that characteristic. Here in Anderson, SC, the classes are very specific and divided sharply across race lines. Socioeconomic classes only apply to those in the middle-upper to upper class people.

It would almost appear that the local population does not realize that heightened race awareness is more important in changing racial inequality than judging whether individuals are racist. This inability to discuss the issue only increases when it cannot be openly discussed and creates a taboo of racial discussion - creating more segregation.

I know that there will always be racism, and while I refuse to fall into the trap of perpetual white guilt, there needs to be a recognition of our history and our differences. I am saddened by the elephant in the room that is racism here in the South, but do not know how I can combat this behavior. I treat people as equally as I can, talk about race openly, and believe to be honest about any prejudices I have. I’m frustrated that I can do more than this because I’ve seen better. And I don’t know whether to pity or envy those who have seen no different. Injustice comes in all forms, but it is always at its worst when it is silent.

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