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The following Featured Post comes from Relationship Group 1, Thread 7.

1. What are your personal biases?
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 7:11 PM/EST

As I watch the TV show I am checking for my own personal biases. I caught myself thinking that the wife was supporting the family and felt very negative towards the husband because he doesn't appear to have a "job" and has admitted he is an alcoholic. I was upset that he cautioned ciciley against a relationship with a foreigner because they are looking for a green card. This is one of the most insulting thing you can say to a person involved in a relationship with a foreigner. I know my personal biases in favor of my own race and gender sometimes get in the way of my professional decisions. I feel that being aware of them helps to lesson the damage.

2. personal biases
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 7:27 PM/EST

I have some personal biases but I don't know how to describe them. I am not against african americans, but I do not walk in their shoes when it comes to being discriminated against. When I encounter an african american person I am cautious that they will percieve some action of mine to be racist because of bad experiences in the past. When I was a kid I envied the little girl in school who had these wonderful cornrows. I wanted to touch one and see how the beads stayed on. Her friends called me a racist for doing that. Later on I made friends with her (because we had some things in common, not because of my fixation on her hair). I remember going to her house and watching Roots with her family. I felt very alientated from them and very guilty for being white when the white characters were treating the black characters so badly. That has stuck with me to this day. Sometimes I am tentative when approaching an african american because of this. I don't ever want to offend.

My friend who teaches a class on interculturalism says that this is a form of racism. I guess it is but I had never thought of myself that way before. I believe that inside we are all souls, not our bodies. And yet that barrier comes between us--how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see ourselves in relation to others. I am often scared to make that first step because I don't want to offend. Does that make any sense at all??

As far as Cicily's father cautioning her against foreigners, yes I agree that it was an insult. As the wife of a foreigner from India, I can say that the green card process is a nuicance but it is not why we married. In fact, we are talking about living there for awhile after we have kids.

3. Personal biases
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 8:52 PM/EST

Hmmm, it's difficult to be totally honest with one's self about that. Always, it seems my first instinct would be to say I haven't any.

Ofcourse, I am very impatient with people who are 'red-neck' in their interpretations of others. And I have an emotional bias against the German people because of the holocaust. (although I intellectually know it has nothing to do with the Germans per se.)

Atleast, I have recognized that I'm not immune to bias and this awareness has it's advantages.

4. Personal Biases
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 9:01 PM/EST

Amber-I understand! People of all races seem to be so sensitive-I think our society makes us feel uncomfortable. Racism, being politically correct, sexism, homophobia, etc. all play a part in not wanting to offend. I live in a predominately black world socially-and at times I am told that I am not white by my friends, but at the same time I am reminded almost on a day to day basis that I am white. We pick and choose sometimes so that we can feel like the majority! I am the the minority around my friends, but at the same time I'm the majority because I am white-you figure. I have learned just recently that many of my friends have not grown up around other races-and accept only what they know or have been taught. Ignorance is not racism-it is purely ignorance. Amber, I encourage you and others to step into the relm of another race and culture and learn-don't be afraid to offend. The greater offense would be to stay in our little comfortable bubbles and wonder...

5. Racism
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 9:11 PM/EST

It may be treading a thin line, to say that ignorance is 'just' ignorance and not racism.

Too many times, the ignorance is accepted and the ensuing results of that ignorance still wreak havoc on us as a society.

Wouldn't it be true also, that any racism could be traced to some modicum of ignorance??

I just know, from personal experience, that the most ignorant (and therefore not meant in malice) remark, has truely offended and hurt me.

So many times, as I was growing up in the Southern U.S., comments were made about Jews. It has stayed with me and it still stings in my memory...

6. If You Do What You Always Did...
Tue, Sep 14, 1999 - 10:26 PM/EST

bigt_iii said to ambers, "I encourage you and others to step into the realm of another race and culture and learn--don't be afraid to offend. The greater offense would be to stay in our little comfortable bubbles and wonder..."

Yes. I have a bias in favor of encouraging a person speak his or her truth with openness and emotional honesty. This means I have a bias against any attempts to censor or marginalize people based on notions of political correctness.

It is not possible for us to make any progress in improving intergroup relations unless we are willing to launch out, try new approaches, air controversial views, and especially make mistakes. One thing I've observed in the field of race relations is that no matter what steps you take, in whatever direction, there's some bombastic blowhard who'll try to shut you down or label you a racist on the basis that you took *the wrong* step, in *the wrong* direction, at *the wrong* rate of speed.

On the other hand, as comedienne Moms Mabley said, "If you do what you always did, you're gonna get what you've always got." So let's be willing to shuck the straight jackets of political correctness in favor of taking some emotional risks.

7. Bag of Worms
Wed, Sep 15, 1999 - /EST

There is a certain amount of "fear" involved for most people whenever meet someone. I understand your apprehensions but encourage you to take the risk. There are people who will appreciate your willingness to try.

8. Thanks for feedback
Wed, Sep 15, 1999 - 1:43 AM/EST

Thanks for the feedback. You're right-- in any new encounter there is a sense of nervousness. I will try harder to be more relaxed and let the relationship grow as it may. I have a good friendship with a man at work who happens to be african american. We found a common bond in that we both have spouses of different races than ourselves. At first that's what we talked about primarily but now we just talk about whatever comes up. Today I realized for the first time, "Wow! The boundaries are down and I feel comfortable with this person."

Thanks for allowing me to be honest about my feelings on this board and not attacking me. Trust was built tonight.

In the future, do you have any suggestions for helping me feel more at ease in first encounters? I did not grow up in a racially mixed place and don't have much experience in that area. I think it's easier to approach a foreign person because there is not the intense history that exists between african american and caucasion people. I don't always know what that person's frame of reference is.

I'm not sure what more to say about the immigration issue except that my husband's parents did not encourage him to stay. He was supposed to go home after two years of study. His parents would have rather had him home than a green card and half a world away.

Read more featured posts here or continue reading thread 7 from Relationship Group 1.

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