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There is No Escaping

March 9, 2016

“race” (color stereotyping) in America. The thing to do is to get prejudice right out there in the open as a topic for rational analysis, discussion, and understanding. Deal with it. Diminish it. Minimize its destructive effect on people’s lives by preventing discrimination (and don’t let maddogs bite).

I myself have been a recovering racist for 58 years. I keep it in check. It’s possible that I have gone without directly discriminating on the basis of color for approximately that same amount of time. I’ve got my prejudice down to the rare, unexpected little pop-up residual reflex (a bit like reflux) that I’m able to calmly acknowledge and crush.

I’m bringing this up (so to speak) in the context of the Democratic contest between Bernie and Hillary, during which there has been much signifying and insinuating about black voters being H’s fire wall and B winning states with lots of white folks and anyway he’s “tone deaf.”

And btw I’m a recovering “sexist” (gender stereotyping) too. I learned some racism as a kid, but I learned much more male chauvinism—from my mother, grandmothers, and aunts as well as from all of the menfolk. I probably turned the corner on discrimination as long ago as 35 years. But with this prejudice I have to steadily work on myself. For me, at least, it’s hard to spot every one of the myriad nuances of bias that I internalized early.

I suppose that by now there are myriad paths in my brain that the poor thing dutifully or gleefully learned, while being told that they were paths to survival, or simple efficiencies and conveniences, or what’s right for God and man. I was taught at an early age, for instance, that kitchen work was women’s work, and that my responsibility as a man was to bring home bacon. Or maybe it was tranches of mammoth.

The brain looks around its environment for patterns. Archetypes, for instance. Or stereotypes. To be healthy we need to maximize consciousness of both.

On the other hand, I never had much class; and it doesn’t much bother me that I’m deeply biased against the rich who get and keep their wealth and privilege by destroying lives. They know that. Sure, I’m biased. But I do try to be empathetic and compassionate toward individual rich folk, and I will try not to discriminate if an opportunity ever comes along.

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