A few years ago I stunned an art patron when they made a negative remark about a person of color. I told them that the words they used to describe that person was what they were actually feeling about themselves.
Racism reflects something in a person much deeper than skin pigment. Racism is a tell. Racism is the calling card of those whose psyche lives in a place of fear and self-loathing. A person without self -respect will feel threatened by someone they do not understand.
Hating someone for their color, sex, religion, or nationality is a thinly veiled projection of self-loathing. Self-loathing, the cousin of depression, goes beyond the easily recognized symptoms of defeatism, physical neglect, martyrdom, or hostility. Feeling oppressed by your own perceived flaws often leads to lashing out against gay people, women, or people of color.
If you have been lucky enough to travel the world in this life, one universal truth becomes clear. We are all connected by the heart. We all want a home and safety, our children to be safe and healthy, and friends to share our lives with.
Of course, I inadvertently shamed my patron, and when you’ve caught someone out on his or her rhetoric, be prepared for a grocery list of excuses to come back at you.
I listened patiently before I responded, “No one is better or worse than another due to an accident of birth. You don’t seem to have an issue with me? Is that because I’m blonde with blue eyes?
What if you discovered I’m Jewish? How do you feel now?
What if I told you many members of my family were gassed in ovens by the Nazi’s? How do you feel now?
What if I told you my mother was gay? How do you feel about me now?”
What we see in one another is all illusion or projection. Until you know someone’s story, everything you are assuming about them is projection.
Every family member has someone in it that is a jerk. That includes families of every race and religion or country. We do not start hating our best friend after we met their drunk and abusive uncle at a wedding. Right? You might say, “Dude, your uncle is a piece of shit,” but we don’t feel disgusted towards our friend. Our responsibility is to stand up to the groping uncle when he tries it on with us or someone more vulnerable at the reception.
There are 8 billion people on the planet and only 30% of the world is white.
Author David J. Smith wrote a book where he shrinks the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people. He shows us that with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, that village would look something like the following.
There would be:
· 57 Asians
· 21 Europeans
· 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
· 8 Africans
· 52 would be female
· 48 would be male
· 70 would be non-white
· 30 would be white
· 70 would be non-Christian
· 30 would be Christian
· 89 would be heterosexual
· 11 would be homosexual
· 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
· 80 would live in substandard housing
· 70 would be unable to read
· 50 would suffer from malnutrition
· 1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth
· 1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
· 1 would own a computer
All of us must unmute ourselves against racism to purge our society of this ugly, ongoing cycle. People of color have the right to express their pain of continuous abuse as do other minorities. It will be white people standing up to other white people that will end this. It is time for all of us to say, “Your behavior is not acceptable”. It does not take bravery when you can see the behavior for what it is, “self-loathing.”
Header image: Artwork by Italian painter, Giovanni Gasparro (b.1983)
A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Uri has lived on three continents and visited 44 countries.