I just finished reading How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston. It was part memoir and part comical self- help book. Now, not to state the obvious but I’m white. You might find yourself wondering how a white girl ended up with a book about being black. I found out about it through an article in the paper where it was another white girl’s answer to “What books are on your bedside table?” I went to the store immediately.
It was quite a funny read. I laughed a lot as he told stories about growing up and set some stereotypes straight.
It was also a quite thought-provoking read. I found myself thinking a lot about people and the world. About race, discrimination, and segregation. About history, the ways the world has changed, and the ways it’s still the same.
It has me currently thinking about if racism and discrimination still exist and why.
I can remember growing up, seeing and hearing about racism and it bothering me. I remember asking questions and being unsettled by the answers. I have recently had comments made to me and around me that make my heart beat really fast, and I have to take a deep breath before I respond. I hear jokes throughout the halls of my middle school and it makes my heart feel heavy and sad.
I can remember growing up, seeing and hearing about discrimination and it bothering me. I have heard statements made about people’s race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation that don’t sit well with me. I have made my own ignorant comments about people based on their religion that I regret saying. I hear jokes throughout the hallways of my middle school that make my stomach hurt.
I find, on a middle school level as well as with adults, it’s harder to dislike someone you have a relationship with. It’s harder to talk trash, judge, or make gross jokes about a group of people when you have a friend in that group of people.
I don’t know how we change racism and discrimination. I have a hunch it has something to do with love, understanding, Jesus, and building relationships. I think it might involve getting out of our comfort zone and experiencing other people and traditions. We might have to get over ourselves and our beliefs for 5 minutes and listen to other people’s stories. If we did I think things might just be a little different. I don’t know though.
What do you think?