They won’t listen, they won’t believe

Merritt Campbell Burton,
Lewiston, ID

I considered myself color-blind until I learned that wasn’t helping. I was one of those hippy-dippy people who would say “we need to just move past it.” We don’t; not yet. We need to acknowledge and talk about it. Long conversations, uncomfortable conversations.

My first experience with racism was as a child. I can’t remember distinguishing between “races” before then. My sister and I were being teased at the playground by a couple of Black children, they were calling us “vanilla ice cream”. Finally, I said “oh yeah, well then you’re chocolate ice cream!” Their mother overheard me and was very angry, even more so when she discovered how it all started.

Now, I am 43 years old. I’ve returned to college and am taking Cultural Anthropology and learning even more. I honestly didn’t know that there are no genetic differences between “races” and that the term itself is completely inaccurate. I used to think Black people were genetically more athletic, for example.
I get so frustrated trying to communicate with other white people on the subject. They won’t listen, they won’t believe. They can watch a video of an unarmed Black man being killed by police and somehow justify it in their minds. They cannot, or willfully will not see the advantages that our whiteness has given us in our lifetimes; the doors that do not shut in our faces.

Currently, we’re on the chapters on racism and ethnicity in my Anthropology class and I’m spending a lot of time with my heart wide open and aching as I learn more about just how much of an illusion “race” is, considering how ingrained into our society it is.
2018 and we still can’t hold a real national conversation on racism. Too many people pretend it doesn’t exist anymore.


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