I am beginning to learn that there is a lot of things white people will say when they are not around people of color. Growing up, I was usually one of the few white kids in my social group, and the when I was around people who looked like me, they were all very immersed in the city, focused on social justice/reconciliation, etc...
So being around people in college who have come from really homogeneous environments is a new thing for me. Unfortunately in many cases, it has not been a positive experience.
My roommate has been especially challenging. On move-in day her brother told her not to walk around outside because the city is dangerous and "A Somalian might jump out of a bush with a knife and attack you". She could tell his comment made me mad so she was like "please don't think my brother is a bad person!". I told her he's not necessarily a bad person, but he's got some messed up ideas. Then I told her about why Somalians are immigrating to the United States and how they are regular families trying to escape a war-torn country. She didn't pay any attention and just said "No, my brother watches the history channel so he knows what he's talking about." Another day she told me "I didn't have any sympathy for adults in poverty, if they wanted to change it they could". She also thinks Mexican immigrants are stealing all of "our" jobs (we actually debated about that in class and it led to me getting 10 extra points, so I guess it turned out ok). I could go on and on....this girl says a lot of ignorant things.
Just this morning I went to breakfast with my roommate and a friend of hers. They began talking with each other about "dating preferences" and my roommate commented that she doesn't like to date black guys. Then her friend was like "yeah, I would 'do' a black girl, but I would never date her or marry her". I told them that I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and we got into an argument about whether or not they were being racist. He tried to defend himself by saying "I'm not racist, I would marry a Mexican. But not a Japanese." At this point I was about to throw up, but I asked him why a black woman wasn't worth marrying, but he was fine with 'doing her'. He said "I don't want my kids to turn out mixed". I asked him why, and he stuttered over his words a little bit, then said because then his child wouldn't know if they should hang out with the black kids or the white kids. The conversation continued for awhile, basically with me telling him how deciding whether or not you would date someone because of the way they look, rather than who they are as a person is racist. He said it was just his "personal preference".
He told me that if I was going to get mad at him, I would have to be mad at lots of people because they all think that way. The depressing part is he's right. Lots of people do think that way and it sickens me. People are going to view my sisters as "doable", but not good enough for marriage. Others are going to look at Isaac, Tekle, and Aaron, and not even consider dating them because they convinienty "aren't attracted to black guys". Thankfully, the world is a big place, and the ignorant people only make up a portion of it. Granted, the portion is bigger than I thought...I guess I've been pretty isolated in my community. I'm grateful for that though, and I'm glad my siblings will be able to enjoy a diverse and loving community before have to deal with people like this on a regular basis. When I look at Lacy and see her gorgeous brown skin, curly black hair, and radiating smile, I realize that guys like that don't deserve daughters like her.
I hate that we have to deal with these issues. I'm not a very confrontational person, but it's impossible for me not say anything when it's so personal. He's referring to my sisters, my brothers, and my best friends. I know we have to work to educate people but at times it seems like an uphill battle.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I think that traveling to Ethiopia to bring Tekle home has given me a special perspective on each milestone he reaches. It's incredible to think back over the last two years and realize how much has happened in his life. The smiley kid he is today is very different than the scared, somber little boy from our referral pictures.
He started kindergarten in September and is loving it. I'm guessing he will be reading soon because he's already trying to decipher every word he sees. He also started hockey recently and said his favorite thing about this year was "being a Dinomight". He is so sweet and is very protective of the people he loves. My Mom was teasing me the other day about visiting so often, and Tekle was like "Mom she needs to come home, this is her REAL house. Kelsey, I want you to visit!" He hasn't been too happy with me not living at home, and one day asked me angrily "Why'd you even sign up for college??". He's adjusting fine though and loves to come visit me at school--in fact that was his other favorite thing about this last year :)
I love that kid so much! He's basically incredible.
What a smile...