Racism, Cultural Bias & Me

I was called a “racist” this week and I challenge that label. And let me just say that I LIKE labels, a world without labels is chaos and stupidity waiting to happen…oh wait…I think many people get racism confused with cultural bias(having a preference to one cultural group over another). There is nothing WRONG with having a cultural bias so long as you understand you have one and how it colors your perspective.

I will be the first to admit if placed in a room full of people from a variety of cultures I’m most likely to end up with a bunch of red-headed Irish Rugby players…ok, maybe that’s a different scenario, but you get the gist of where I’m going. I’m going to naturally gravitate towards people/groups/cultures I know & understand. We all do.

We all live in multiple cultures at any one time. We have a ethnic/racial culture, we have a local culture of the physical area we live in, we have a home culture(which usually, but not always ties into our ethnic culture) and usually a work culture. Many of us also have a religious culture that usually ties into our home culture. And many of us have assumed cultures that somehow have called to us and we have incorporated into our lives even though they are not a part of any of the cultural groups I mentioned above. We also have sub-cultures within these cultures, especially ethnic, home & religious cultures.

These cultures and how we interact with them are what make us, US. I would not be the Shana I am today if it were not for the various cultures I have spent time in over the years, for better or worse. I have learned that there are aspects of all cultures that I don’t like and find that(usually) the people who embrace those things are not people I wish to spend time around. THAT’S OKAY! It’s okay to have strong preferences in regards to culture! It’s okay to say that you don’t wish to associate with certain aspects of a culture. What isn’t okay is to dehumanize or write off an individual based sole on their culture or to hold yourself as superior simply on aspects of culture or skin tone!

I’ve met some really horrible Seventh-day Adventists. I’ve met some really horrible Catholics. I’ve met some really horrible Armenians. I’ve met some really horrible New Yorkers. I’ve met some really horrible Canadians. I’ve met some really horrible Jews(ethnic & religious!). I’ve met some really horrible Gay people. I’ve met some really horrible Black people. I’ve met some really horrible White people! I’ve also met AMAZING, WONDERFUL people in those groups too. I can’t allow my interactions with a FEW color my perceptions of ALL.

So, I embrace my cultural bias, ever mindful of how it can filter my perceptions and world view. Yes, I’m going to make judgments based on what my eyes see and my ears hear. I’m human, that’s kind of how we work. It also means that if you think Jay-Z is superior to U2 you don’t get to control the music when we are riding in my car 😀 😀

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