The Race Diaries (Part 3)

This is a guest post by Martina Smith. Martina grew up in Indianapolis and has lived in the rural suburbs of Indiana since the divorce of her parents, moving through the cornfields of tiny town Carthage until she landed in the slightly more populated Johnson County area. She currently resides in Bargersville and spends some of her time doing social outreach volunteering and self work through her favorite Indianapolis Meetup group, Millennials Doing Cool Things That Matter.

It’s taken me three months to write this.

I’m afraid of being honest.

I don’t know who this could hurt, but I sincerely hope it does more good than bad.

I’m a racist.

I don’t say that to be trendy or to put a false salve on my guilt. It’s just true.

I judge people by the color of their skin, and I make assumptions about their life situations for the color of their skin. I use the color of my skin to belittle people of different colors.

I post a lot on my personal Facebook page about what I believe causes or enhances racism in white people’s minds. I say those things because they come from mine.

I know what it’s like to be a racist because I am one.

I feel numb. I feel like the whole world is spinning. I feel like I can’t trust the ways I’ve interpreted my experiences with non-white people, however close I considered myself to them.

Growing up, I had a best friend that was Korean, and my first crush was for a partially Hispanic boy. I spent time growing as a martial artist with black and brown friends. I still thought of them as distinct minorities, even if I was the actual minority in a room.

I tried to get to know them as people and spent days playing soccer and basketball and having sleepovers with them. Sometimes when the moment presented itself, I tried to protect them from friends that wanted to openly mock them. Then, I’d go home and laugh with the white guy or girl on TV doing the same thing.

As I grew older, I started to pick up on a thought process some of my fellow white role models would use to justify the need to scapegoat their emotional baggage onto non-white people. I began implementing it into my own moments of perceived desperation, as I believed it would genuinely make me feel better.

It often sounded like this:

I don’t need to feel this way. It’s not my fault, I didn’t screw them over. I didn’t cause slavery. I’m just white, not a racist…geez, why are they making me feel this way? What’s wrong with me? Wait… nothing’s wrong with me. I’m white, I’m not the minority. I wish people cared about me the way I’m caring so dang much for nothing about these people. I don’t want them around me anymore, they make me feel uncomfortable. It’s their fault, not mine.

This appeared more and more frequently in my interactions until I couldn’t even hear the thoughts happening in my head anymore. My body language and general tone of voice soaked themselves in the process. Eventually, the racism just became so subconscious that being defensive about the whole topic of race just became the norm. It showed up as smaller micro-aggressions for me, but only because I’m not a confrontational person.

How many more white people are like this?

I really wish I knew.

We might have a chance at moving forward if we were more honest.

Until recently, I didn’t know I was a racist and I would’ve never admitted to being one. I’ve been trying to get educated and expose myself to non-white people’s stories. I believe it’s helping. May this confessional help someone else out there.

No more guilt. Just honesty.

-Martina

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