Amy models one way to confront everyday racism …

We know how hard it is when we’re unexpectedly hit with a racist action or statement, and we need to think quickly to come up with the most effective way to confront it. Amy over at feminist reprise has a neat post up; she tells about her decision-making process when a classmate recently created a racist painting for a class assignment:

During the next class meeting, my classmate displayed her progress on her project; she was designing not simply icons, but a series of 8.5 x 11 full-color illustrations to go along with the various aspects of her business (part of which involves illustration).

I was really anxious as she displayed and talked about the first illustration in her project, which was partially completed–a painting of the head and face of an African woman gazing into the distance, wearing a headcloth, with a stone carving or a piece of pottery in the foreground, and a border of leopard skin pattern around the entire thing. While my white classmates and instructor were complimentary, making helpful suggestions, I couldn’t think of anything positive to say. While I churned in silence, a discussion ensued of appropriate ink colors for the text to accompany the illustration. I sat there in a rage, barely able to breathe, asking myself, ‘Am I going to say something? Am I not going to say something? Will I be able to live with myself if I don’t say something? I’m so mad, how can anything I say be constructive?’

After a while, the instructor turned to me and said something like, ‘Do you have any thoughts?’

It’s hard to think exactly what to say, or how; check out what Amy did here. It’s good reading …

This reminds me of something I said, over a year ago, and it was probably less effective. A co-worker was planning a Russian adoption, and explained that her parents were the reason she was traveling so far for a baby, rather than adopting locally, where white infants are not normally available. She said something to this effect: “My parents would have big issues with my adopting a baby of another race.” I answered: “Oh, are your parents racists?” Her reply was, “Of course not!” Transnational adoptions are problematic; I think they are so common due to racism. I know it’s a complex, many-layered issue. And I’m not sure if what I said was the best thing, in that circumstance. I’d be interested in what other think about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: