Dark vs Light / Black vs White — Part 1: Questions
This series of articles finds its origins in my struggle with race and racism. I am a half Russian, half Afghani immigrant to the U.S. I am white. I first came to the U.S. when I was six, when my family moved to Oak Park, an outlier of Detroit, MI.
Pre- U.S. I had no conception of race, and for a while after I moved to the country the situation remained the same. One of my best and earliest friends to this day was a black kid I met on the school bus around 1st grade. His name was Christian. At the time I remember us bonding over being bullied, we felt we shared a struggle. I don’t remember us discussing race at all, up until I moved away at the age of fourteen.
Now I am twenty-five and have recently re-connected with Christian (everyone calls him CJ), and one of the first things we discussed was race. I asked him about his experience being a black male, how he viewed our relationship and what he thought of the word ‘nigga’. He understood the topic of our conversation and why we were having it instantly.
Sometime between when we last saw each other in middle school around 2007 and the present of 2017, between when we were pre-teens and full grown adults, race became an elephant in the room in any conversation between a black and white person.
If one is lucky (or unlucky depending on how you view it) they are made aware of the role of race in our society, history, and even our own perceptions. Me and CJ were both made aware of race and I felt the need to discuss it to have an honest relationship with him.
Arguably, outside the context of race, mine and CJs relation was simpler. It was easier to focus on other aspects of our relationship, ones that we valued more. So now were both left wondering why and how was this burden introduced uno us, and unto society and people as whole?
Many people wish to be rid of the construct of race (where did all those colorblind people come from…). Nevertheless, no one is rid of it. I had the above conversation with my friend CJ not even a month ago. You’ve probably heard or seen something racially focused in the past day if not the past week. So the questions begin. The most important question being: Can we ever be rid of racism? (hint: probably not…I think…as of now)
As I’ve begun to ask this question deeply and repeatedly only more questions have come up. These include:
Why does racism exist? How does racism exist? Where does racism exist? What exactly is race? What exactly is racism? Where does all of this begin? Who has power over race? Whom does race have power over? What should I do about race? What should white people do about race? What should other people do about race?
Through this series of articles I hope to answer these questions for myself and for anyone else interested in reading, commenting, and challenging. Ultimately I hope to begin to discover who I really am in relation to race and racism. I hope to have conviction that my behaviors, language, and actions truly support a future I am confident in and proud of.
I will try to write and explore on a weekly basis. Get at me through the comments or any other way if you want my attention. Thanks.