In my subconscious, he is white

Clarkson-photoKatherine Hannan Wears,
Ogdensburg, NY.

When I was a practicing attorney, I scheduled an appointment with an attorney who was a specialist in the field of construction litigation. The contact was made through an attorney I knew well. As I waited at the appointment, I didn’t consciously think, “What will he look like?” When he arrived, I realized that I had not contemplated that he would be black. I was shocked by the realization that my subconscious had controlled by thinking. I know that he saw the look on my face. I didn’t know whether or not to apologize or not.. I have been haunted by this brief moment for years. It still bothers me as I try to re-train my subconscious. Now, I am an Associate Dean and have taught classes such as “Law of the Workplace”. I tell the students this story of the control of my perception by my subconscious. I want them to look into themselves. It is so difficult to begin a discussion about race and get deeper than the obvious. Few students act with prejudice with intentionality. So few try to truly understand and empathize.

 

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