I struggle with ignorant white people.

Mark Parker
Baltimore, MD

I write this as a white person myself. And as someone who has always lived and worked in incredibly diverse communities and cities. I am the leader of a religious community, and a leader in a neighborhood, which includes a healthy percentage of folks that fall into this category. I feel like I hide my disgust for ignorant white people well, in person? That is to say, in my position I have to sit and listen to a lot of ignorant crap about race or politics that comes spewing out of some peoples’ mouths. And I gently challenge, or re-direct, or change the subject, or tell a story, trying to help them realize the illogic or un-Christian attitudes behind their thoughts and words. But all I really want to do is yell at them for being so ignorant, call them out for their racism, tell them exactly what Jesus would think about their words and attitudes. And cut them out of my life, my church, my neighborhood and send them all somewhere where they can be ignorant together and not bother me or anyone else.

But really, I feel pretty guilty about the visceral nature of my reaction at times. It’s not always the same. Sometimes it is anger. Sometimes disgust. Sometimes pity. Sometimes compassion. It depends on the situation–a 75 year old woman who doesn’t realize her attitudes and language are no longer acceptable in public (or private) settings; a 10 year old kid who is one of fourteen siblings and can barely read; a 40 year old neighbor who calls our fellow, perfectly wonderful, neighbor a “lazy [epithet]” almost to test how I will respond.

I’m glad I don’t respond so strongly to people of differing ethnicity. But I do wonder what it says about me that I get so quickly worked up, so quickly judgmental, about people with my same skin color? Would I be the same way if I was Latino, or African-American, toward “my” people? Do I hold “my” people to a higher standard than I do others? I don’t think so, really… but it may be. Or is it simply because I’ve been trained that being racist is wrong, but no one ever talked much about being classist? I don’t know.


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