it’s interesting to realize that i never had to think of race issues until i moved to this place. furthermore, i never before knew there were still “issues” with race, to begin with. not so extended as i have come to understand recently.
just to put things in context and give you an idea of what i’m talking about – i was grown up in a quarter of a million inhabitant city and studied in a city populated by one million people. hence, both were reasonably sophisticated urban areas. yet, i had never seen a latinamerican, arabic, african or asian person other than in the movies and TV until the age of 23 when i moved to the capital of europe. even there things didn’t get much better. for example, i can say that the amount of asians i saw during those 7 years can be counted with the fingers of a single hand.
this means that my only contact with race conflicts had been little to none, and i was only aware of them through the conflicts portrayed in documentaries, movies and news (which i never trust for you are never sure how much of what you see in those media is real and how much is just there as hyperbole serving the narrative). of course i had been exposed to some degree of racism in one form or another, for in such lack of prominent race or cultural diversity back there back there in the old continent, language and cultural localisms have often been used as excuses to create conflict. also, the recent massive immigration from latin america, euroasia and africa to europe are starting to rise conflicts and hence awareness. but in any case, it is undeniable that the magnitude and intricacy of the issue of racism that americans have to live with every day are unheard to me (and probably to the average european immigrant in americam).
in fact, being grown so unexposed to a multicultural and multiethnic reality, the average european feels too optimistic, probably too confident and surely too naive regarding race issues in america, the first country on the planet to celebrate diversity for more than a century. “way, wasn’t this already solved?”. however one learns with disappointment that we these hairy monkeys called humans have not solved the issue yet, and that the topic is fact pretty vivid issue and continuous topic of debate. i am still very tangentially exposed to it. i am however often find myself reading about race or talking about it in casual conversations with friends. which is something new to me. new and sometimes difficult for me and most eurokids, simply because we the lack the life experiences in a multicultural and multiracial reality that allows us to have developed an opinion and taken a position.
however we might enjoy some advantages. for example, we do join such discussions with some sort of tabula rasa mindset, free of preconditioned opinions nor real cultural artifacts. i’m thinking that perhaps we can see things a bit clearer, free of pre-established believes or indoctrinated “truths” blocking our view. we’ve never been educated in any particular point of view regarding the topic.
one such thing that i clearly see is the mistake of assuming that the average (liberal) white person feels (or should feel) guilty for all the atrocities done by white people during the centuries. i’ve seen this idea expressed multiple times. i’d like to inform them that i feel no connected or related whatsoever to the fucking bastard spaniards who killed the native americans, nor i feel responsible for the slavery white americans practiced. if anybody thinks i should feel guilty for what other people from which i only share skin color or blood did, then they are being racist. because race is not something transcendental that carries identity with it. culture is the mechanism to transfer identity. race isn’t. or not even – perhaps my very strong sense of individuality and the fact that i always have problems feeling blame or pride for what a group of people i am told i belonged to do or achieve, doesn’t help me here.
another cultural artifact i personally am free from (i think!) is famous whole american idea of the “white default” – that the US mostly agrees that americans are “white” by default. and that therefore black, yellow and brown people are out of the norm and must in fact be labeled as such. this is something carved so strongly in the very language that it is unconsciously accepted by all americans regardless of their race. for example, the news in the TV will talk about “a man” if the subject of the news is a so called “regular” white man, but will specifically talk about “a man of color” if he subject was a black man. indeed, analyzing the use language is a good way to measure one society’s idiosyncrasy, morality and standards. and it seems clear that being any color buy white is considered the exception to the rule in the american collective consciousness.
i do think i am still in my naive euroflowepower view of things, and relatively free of these preconditioned opinions and artifacts. i wonder if this will always be so, or if being now exposed to this new culture will, over the years, change and shape the way i subconsciously think and feel about these issues.