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Reading Journal #5 Talking about racism: how our dialogue gets short-circuited by Paul L. Wachtel September 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — notsoblonde016 @ 9:24 pm

In Wachtel’s entry he proves a lot of valid points that are concerns with American’s today and the word “racist”. It seems as though certain situations in our daily lives are being interpreted as being racist even though the intentions may not be at all. One example he gave was that a white person may cross the street to avoid a group of black men that are walking toward him/her. This situation reminds me a lot of when my roommate and I are walking around. Because of the area that we are in it isn’t really safe to be walking around as two little “white girls” past a group of black men. Sometimes we do cross the street, and even in those instances they will yell across to us and say stuff to us. We don’t always cross the street we don’t run from every black person we see, we just are use to being followed by black men and would just rather try to skip going through the whole ordeal of getting hit on and followed. Neither of us have problems with black people, I have a lot of black friends, and black cousins, however people take us crossing the street to get away from black people as being racist. Fact is if there were creepy white people we would cross the street too.

One quote that I found really interesting was when Wachtel was finding the definition of racism. He said, several blacks claimed that they cannot be racist “by definition” because they believed that the word racism means discrimination by the majority against an oppressed minority. White people however believe that racism is a discrimination against a certain race. Its this difference in ideas that is really scary to think about because if as a “United” Nation, we can’t even agree on what is or what isn’t racism then we have overused the words racism and racist to the point where we are no longer able to overcome racial divisions.

Another point that Wachtel brought up was that using the word racist really stops all communication between people. If there are some issues of disagreement on a topic, calling someone a racist ceases the conversation and the issue is not resolved.

There has also become a fear in white people when they talk to black people, they feel like they have to chose their words carefully so that they don’t offend or make the black person think they are a racist.


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