Monday, August 23, 2010

"Does racism exist in the United States?"

Last night my host sister and I were watching the news and Barack Obama came on the television, and she said, in PERFECT English, "Barack Obama, the first black President of the United States." Then, a few minutes later she asked me (in French) if racism existed in the United States.

Basically, in novice French, I said: 'Yes, racism does exist in the United States, but racism exists everywhere in the world. Someone may not like me because I have white skin, someone may not like you because you have black skin. Someone may think that the color of a person's skin indicates what kind of person they are: whether they are nice or mean, intelligent or not. People like you and me know that skin color has nothing to do with what makes someone a good or bad person.'

Doris accepted my response and agreed that racism is everywhere, but her question definitely surprised me. She wants to go to college in the United States (at GONZAGA!), so I was sure to include that there is little to no racism in Washington, and Americans whom are educated are not racist (I didn't say for the most part. I wasn't quite sure how to explain that). I have witnessed a lot of racism, (verbal, intentional and unintentional) towards Hispanic and Asian populations (in Washington). Maybe after a year we could have a more in depth conversation about racism.

Language barriers make life so much more difficult, yet so much simpler at the same time. I couldn't go into any speals about inner cities, immigration, refugees, migrant workers, farming/food production, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc etc etc (oh the life of a Political Science/Sociology major)...fortunately for Doris.

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