How to tell if you're a racist
Last year Paula Zahn did a report called "Skin-Deep: racism in America". In the show there were several interviews with "race experts" and political figures. A test was given that told you if you had the penchant towards a particular race. Well, I found the test on-line and took it. The results surprised me at first, then it made me wonder if... I could be a racist?
Hey this is Leticia. I should first start out by saying that the test doesn't determine whether or not you are a racist definitively...it tells you if you have a strong, moderate or little or no preference for a particular race. In this Harvard study, the two groups tested were blacks and whites.
The test was a series of pictures and words. You have to hit the "e" and the "i" on the keyboard to show that you can first tell the difference between the two races. Then a series of words flash on the screen and you must again hit the right letter to determine where they go. They are words like love, joy, happiness, and evil, nasty and bad. Then you link the good words with either race and likewise with the bad words. In about five minute's time, you learn if you respond faster when European American faces and Good words were linked together or African American faces and Good words. Based on how quickly you choose each picture and words are how your preference is determined.
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My test "suggests a moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American". Imagine this black girl's surprise. I was so shocked in fact that I had to take the test again, and again. Around test #3, I started to question myself. Do I like white people more?! Well, I guess that would explain why I'm on an interracial dating site. But, that can't be. I love my people. I love our passion, creativity, endurance, strength, courage and...okay, I know I'm starting to sound like an India Arie song. You get the picture. I love me some black people.
Right about now, I'm starting to feel like the little girl in the doll test. I've let down my whole race by picking the wrong side. Jessie, Al and even Condoleezza will be knocking on my door any minute to make me turn in my "black and I'm proud" card. I'm thinking "this would be the perfect time to get someone else to take the test," then, maybe I won't feel so bad. So, I get my best friend to take it. He and I are so much alike in our ideologies, values and goals. Great idea...right?
Wrong. He takes the test and now I feel worse. He ranked in the 2% that actually has a "strong automatic preference for African American compared to European American". As I was about to get all sad about his ability to keep his card, a sad thought came over me. Why is the percentage of strong automatic preference for African American's only 2%?
How many black people have actually taken this test? I know that originally on the television show it was only given to Whites and Asians. What does it mean that "I" have an automatic preference for another race? Was I too a victim to all the societal influences that for generations has told me that black is bad and dirty and white represents good and pure?
My best friend points out that he's not surprised by my "preference". According to him, I've always been nicer to white folks than black. I disagree. However, my own thoughts take me back to less than a week ago I mentioned that there were a lot of new black people all around the complex so it "must be time to move". I'd love to say that I was joking, but I wasn't. I'd love to believe that it's just my preference, just like dating interracially is yours, however, there is a part of me that is really afraid that some of my feelings could be related to that self-hate that we've heard so much about. I don't think that on a conscience level. But, I also didn't think that I'd take a test that would make me start believing that I could be prejudice...against my own race either.
I intentionally use the word prejudice instead of racist, because to quote Michael Eric Dyson, author of "Debating Race", "...racism suggests that you have political power in a society to reinforce your viewpoints as the status quo". Black people, by far, have not had that". Prejudice...we got!
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