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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Getting Along in Multicultural America


Steven F. Riley of Mixed Race Studies emailed a link to me of
Charles A. Gallagher, Professor and Chair on Race and Ethnic Relations, Urban Sociology and Inequality. The first article that Gallagher had listed was titled "white reconstruction in the university" (lower case is his).

On the first page are quotes from students. This particular quote I found to be heartfelt but tragicomic.

[Many blacks] don't want to talk to me because I'm white. They think that I'm racist. They are prejudging me. And I feel I have to be extra nice to them because I feel I am doing something wrong by being white. I feel like I am being racist because I am white....I want them to know that I'm not racist because I don't want them to have to feel uncomfortable. But they make me feel uncomfortable because I think that they think I'm a racist.

Being a European-American and living in the U.S. my whole life I can understand the sentiment of this college student. How does one embody a light skinned phenotype and make people of color feel comfortable? Or at least not instill fear in them?

1. Be warm, friendly and embracing.

2. If you don't have a warm, friendly and embracing personality -- wear your heart on your sleeve. Wear a Bob Marley tshirt, a peace sign, tie-dye clothing or all three to send a sure fire message of "I am not a racist".



3. Carry business cards to hand out that say 'I am not a racist.'

Why should you bend over backwards and go out of your way to make people of color feel at ease?

Because you're a nice person of course.