Autobiographical Account of Racial Relations in the Community
My Autobiographical Account of Racial Relations in My Community
"Despite my time studying race and ethnicity, I have been in the racial minority very seldom;" such has often been my own life as well (McKinney 2004 p 19). The community I reside in is typically a white majority, but has been developing to come into closer proximity to other minority groups. While these groups are not directly targeted for discriminatory purposes by the white majority in the community, there is clearly a line drawn between minority groups and the more established white residents of the community. Essentially, I have seen within my own community a growing sense of color-blind racism, where the racial structures are not so overtly stated, but rather implicit and hiding just underneath the surface.
The community I have lived in for years is a relatively smaller one, which has been undergoing recent changes in terms of overall demographics but has still been plagued by an underlying white majority. Essentially, the town embodies the typical small town atmosphere and the overall demographics reflect the similarities in many small towns across the United States. The majority of those within my community are white, and the overall community is made up of very few different ethnic groups. This means that the majority of my neighbors share my own racial categories. As a white male in the community, I can blend in very well. The minority groups that are present are mostly African-American, Native American, and Asian-American. Over the past years, the town has slowly seen an overall increase in its ethnic groups. Still, it is obvious that the underlying white majority has not fully subsided and embraced these smaller minority groups. In fact, most of the residents here follow a typical pattern for whites living in small towns. They "live in white neighborhoods, associate primarily with whites, befriend mostly whites, and choose whites as their mates," (Bonilla-Silva 2010 p 263). Most importantly, this white majority votes for white causes. This often has the impact of keeping the majority of local community leaders in office white, which can impact how they treat other minority groups that don't fit into the white majority scenario. In fact, most legislative acts and promises form community leaders tend to favor the interests of the white majority, and not those of other minority groups. In this, there is the clear sign that community leadership tends to favor the white experience, and thus gives a greater privilege to whites living in the community when compared to other minority groups that are often less vocal within community affairs based on their relative exclusion from community politics.
Overall, the community still embodies the sense of small minded mentality that is often stereotyped in small towns across the United States. My community is much like many other small towns across the country, which is unfortunately often still plagued with racial inequality and a sense of uncalled for self-righteousness which emanates from the white majority. The increase in minority groups is actually a very recent occurrence. I remember the town was predominately white when I was growing up as a child. Thus, there has been a clear influx in minority groups which have moved closer and closer in proximity to a previously undiversified town. Here, research on the development of racism in recent years shows that this is a typical scene. In fact, most white communities explicitly and implicitly try to remove themselves in terms of close proximity to other racial groups. Here, the research suggests that "Despite the civil rights revolution, whites, young and old, live in a fundamentally segregated life that has attitudinal, emotional, and political implications," (Bonilla-Silva 2010 p 125). In my case, the majority of the community is white, and thus these individuals often ignore the issue of race when it comes to their own self-conceptions, and typically only associate with images of other minority groups which do not have such a voice within the community at large. This means that many minority groups are not being properly represented within leadership, and thus are being placed at a disadvantage compared to their white counterparts, as in areas around the country that serve a white majority (Scheafer 2005).
Additionally, the sheer presence of large number of minorities has also impacted the way the white majority functions, both in self-understanding and in the understanding of other groups as well. Interestingly, the research also suggests that "For many whites, a sense of a racialized self is dependent on awareness of and contact with a racialized 'other,'" (McKinney 2004 p 21). Thus, in recent years, as the population of minority groups have grown within my community, so has this overbearing sense of racial tension and self-exploration. What this has often resulted to in the community has been a strange realization of its own whiteness in comparison to the other which holds up a comparison of contrast. This has begun to shatter the sense of the transparency which had gone along side the image of white identity in my community for so long. According to the research, "Researchers have similarly found that the most common response that whites give when asked what it means to be white is that they have never before considered their white identity," (McKinney 2004 p 20). The community had never labeled itself as a white one. Yet as more and non-white minority groups began to amass in greater numbers, there was a strange self-realization that was experienced by many members within the community in general. The research shows that "whiteness is not self-evident," yet it is an unconscious element to how one is treated by certain aspects of the community (McKinney 2004 p 20). If one is white, one can proceed rather invisibly. Yet, minority groups attract much more attention from the surrounding community, most of which can be relatively negative. This unfortunately leads to a very large scale presence of color blind racism, which is exactly what I have witnessed in the context of my own community. In this regard, the research posits that "Much as Jim Crow racism served as the glue for defending a brutal and overt system of racial oppression in the pre-Civil Rights era, color-blind racism serves today as the ideological armor for a covert and institutionalized system in the post-Civil Rights era," (Bonilla-Silva 2010 p 3). Many of the whites living in my community fail to see how they are essentially playing into the racist structure, yet they seem to be content in unconsciously contributing to it everyday. They state that they don't really see color, although it is clear that color still greatly influences their lives on a subconscious level (Scheafer 2005). Because the white majority still enjoys a strange white privilege within the community, the mindset is to promote this unconscious perpetuation of antiquated racist sentiments and hierarchies. Without being exposed for their participation, this only furthers the harm of racism within my community. Here, the research suggests that "because people of color still experience systematic discrimination and remain appreciably being whites in many important areas of life, their chances of catching up with whites are very slim," (Bonilla-Silva 2010 p 26). This proves to hold an uncertain future for the growing number of minority groups living in and around my community. Unfortunately, this type of mentality is spread out through a large breadth of the age groups within my community as well. In fact, much of the younger generation within my community actually promotes a sense of color blind racism. Often times, the younger generations think of themselves as less racially intolerant than the older generations, but it is an unfortunate fact in my community that many actually contribute greatly into the community's sense of color blind racism. This is occurring in many other towns and cities, just like mine. In this regard, the research states that "While young whites are often portrayed in the mass media as liberal on racial matters, indeed much more so than parents or grandparents, in fact as a group they are racially illiberal," (McKinney 2004 p xii). While they think they are not racists, they are actually contributing to the ongoing presence of the racist structure. This is often done through the perpetuation of color blind racism, where the racism experiences is not overtly displayed, but rather a more unspoken thing that is still persistent underneath the surface within the community in general. Often times "white youth do not use racial slurs as legitimate terms in public does not mean that they do not use these terms or denigrate blacks in private," (Bonilla-Silva 2010 p 56). Thus, the racism that is existing within my community is bound to remain there until someone exposes the color blind racism for what it really is.
Unfortunately, the media and other forms of representation also contribute to this underlying sense of color blind racism. It did not seem strange to me at the time, but I can…