The day the penny dropped that I had stereotyped based on race.  

18 Feb

How could I not know I had that stereotype inside of me?  How did that happen?  I wasn’t raised that way, I didn’t think that way, consciously, that is.  Yet, the stereotype was there, hidden under everything I’d always patted myself on the back about, and when I saw it, I felt overwhelming shame.  Not just for the stereotype itself, but for not knowing it was part of who I was, and how easy it is to fool yourself.  This post is embarrassing, but I also think that growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum, there has to be an awareness to change.  So, I’m sharing with you in hopes of sparking conversations here or elsewhere. 

That moment when my racial stereotype showed its ugly face – is seared in my memory.  I can see myself sitting in my car at the stoplight.  I can see the intersection.  I grew up in the area and understood the demographics well, rural, small town area that is predominantly white.  What I can’t see is the date or even the year it happened.  Best guess is that it was shortly after the tragedy that happened to Trayvon Martin, and then, the never-ending stream of discussion on black teens/men and hoodies.

It was late morning and I was on my way to see mom, sitting at the stop-light waiting for it to turn so I could continue on.  Across the cross street on the right were two teens, black, and wearing sweatshirts with their hoodies up.  And I felt fear.  Irrational fear.  Fear that I knew had no logical grounds to be based on, they were just two teen boys waiting for the green walk light so they could cross the street, probably heading either to the gas station or grocery store because that’s all that there.  I checked myself and asked what if it had been two white teens wearing sweatshirts with their hoodies up, and I knew the answer was I wouldn’t have felt fear.  That the irrational fear was only based on a racial stereotype that was prominent in the media, and thereby, society, us, me.  It had lodged in my sub consciousness, despite the fact that I believed what happened to Trayvon Martin was wrong, the racial stereotype took hold, and I allowed it to.

After realizing how easy it was to have hidden stereotypes, I’ve thought about that day every time I go through that intersection.  We all have stereotypes that play a large part in how we see things.  Seeing them, admitting to them, working through and understanding how illogical they are, is needed.  I needed that wake-up call.  I’m trying to be more aware of how easy it is to a stereotype people, a group, community, even an entire race or nationality.

Race, racism, racial stereotypes need to be discussed more often in the adoption community as a whole.  We need to sit and listen to the experts, i.e. those who have experienced racial stereotypes and have to live with the impact it has on them.  We don’t get to tell them they are wrong, misunderstood what the person was saying, we don’t live it, we don’t know.  Anything they offer to us to grow is a gift, treat it as such, don’t pushback, just listen, ask questions, think about the message, learn.  When we stop learning we might as well just give up.




Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Adoption


Tags: , ,

11 responses to “The day the penny dropped that I had stereotyped based on race.  

  1. L4R

    February 19, 2017 at 4:25 am

    We all have prejudices, especially those of us who are privileged enough to be part of the mainstream culture, and we have to acknowledge them. So, if, for example, we have white privilege, it is going to be harder to see it. The structures in place promote institutional racism.

    This opinion piece made me think. For some, it might be too tough a read:

    This was the part that really hit me:

    “I had to watch the Tea Party rise from your fear of losing the centuries-long promise that you’d always get more because we’d always get less, all while you brushed it off as fringe lunacy. I had to watch you high-five each other and celebrate an election already won while I could see that your parents, your uncle, maybe even your spouse was going to vote for White Supremacy, because deep down part of them knew that they didn’t earn all that they enjoy in this world, and in a couple of years they wouldn’t have the votes to protect the parts they stole.”

    I was one of the people who believed the Trump supporters were just a lunatic fringe group. Yet, Trump won. I was one of those people who firmly believed he couldn’t win and was shocked when he did. I didn’t see, didn’t expect, what this article’s author saw coming a mile away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      February 19, 2017 at 4:35 am

      Hey L4R – hope all is well. My brain is too tired this time of day and will read it first thing tomorrow. It sounds good, hopefully others read it too and a conversation happens.


      • TAO

        February 19, 2017 at 7:32 pm

        L4R – great article and hopefully everyone reading this post, will go read it too. She’s right, we don’t have to do anything other than live our lives surrounded by people we agree with in our own little bubble. I hope though – that enough of us start to be aware, do better, push others to do better, get out of our little paradises we’re allowed to live in. I know what I went through started the process of being more aware, it started slowly, I’m getting there, inch by inch – and having to learn some painful lessons along the way. But it is all worth it.

        I’ve continued reading conservative fb pages to try to understand the mindset, and, if anything, it’s made me see more clearly what happens when someone can’t think for themselves and is only in it for themselves.


  2. Snarkurchin

    February 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

    It’s a damned good read.

    For white me, unlearning stuff I didn’t know I’d learned has been a process that started when I had a realization like yours. I’ve since been lucky enough to have had experiences that helped me unlearn some things. I’ll never be free of prejudice, but I can say I’m not the person I was fifteen years ago when I insisted I wasn’t a racist.


    • TAO

      February 19, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Should have had you explain in one paragraph what took me a page – you rock!


      • Snarkurchin

        February 20, 2017 at 10:25 am

        You took a page because you had an epiphany and described it in detail even though it taught you something ugly about yourself. YOU rock!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Heather

    February 20, 2017 at 8:34 am

    As the mother of two daughters of mixed race I raised them naively thinking that people would see the people they are before seeing their skin colour.

    They’ve shown me that even in 2017 it’s not usually the case. It breaks my heart. I listen to my daughters but I can never truly empathize with their experiences because of my skin colour.

    Too many people discount their experiences. I don’t tell them their feelings are wrong. I really thought humans were more sensitive and caring.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. beth62

    February 28, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    HBCU executive order… nobody knows how to react, I can’t help but laugh, maybe cry at these reactions we are having! Heard first reactions from many Virginia State, Virginia Union, and Norfolk University students and grads, and parents/grandprnts/families of, just waiting to jump up and down with excitement and pride now that it’s been signed, now that it can be believed… but can’t until we see the fine print! And no, to any clueless people (especially white ones) who may be reading this 😉 these students and grads are not all black, arrgg…

    It’s not an old, or a new, equal and seperate thing is it??
    I heard first generation students…
    I think I might have heard seperatism…

    I can feel the shaking up of my historically black community right now, I can feel the political divide growing even more than yesterday between them. With this news I heard even more confess who they voted for and how they could be more happy about it now, maybe, hopefully. I don’t know yet if it’s good or bad. I don’t know what to think anymore!
    Does anyone, would love to hear opinions!


  5. beth62

    March 1, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I do wonder how much the huge increase in enrollment lately caught their eye and could be a factor for not focusing on funding… when that should be the main focus for many of these schools right now.
    Someone is liable to shred this lady and eat her if it’s not more funding.
    So many people I know have privately invested so much in Petersburg, VSU, and the Fort Lee area to help revitalize, as well as create more housing for students and military. Along with state funds and historic grants. It would be really crappy to see anything happen to hamper that desperately needed growth. I can’t imagine she is referring to actual structures when saying tangible, structure reform! LOL I know of many soon to be useful historic buildings that could use some serious and costly reform about Now!
    Not to mention more tourists.
    and more students…




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