Racial issues are something that people can come across everyday in their life. It’s known as everyday racism, or subtle racism. With a little research, I found out what subtle racism actually means.
Subtle racism is defined as, “Subtle, commonplace forms of discrimination, such as being ignored, ridiculed, or treated differently.” There could be little things said that might not even seem like a big deal, but in reality, it could be having a bigger impact on someone than you might think.
In an article I came across online, Annie Barnes, the author of a book called Everyday Racism: A Book For All Americans, tells the story of a black college student named Daniel whose apartment building manager asked him not to listen to music on his earphones because the other residents found it distracting. To you and I, that would seem like a pretty innocent request, but Daniel took notice that a white youth in his complex had a similar radio with earphones and the supervisor never told him to stop.
That would be an example of subtle racism. Daniel and the white youth in the apartment were both doing the same thing, but were treated completely differently. This gave Daniel the impression that someone with his skin color had to follow different rules from everyone else.
I’m sure there are lots of comments that people of different ethnicities receive regularly that the person saying these comments may think that their completely innocent and the person they are saying it to won’t take it to heart. For example, a picture I saw was of a dark skinned woman and she was holding up a sign that read, “You’re really pretty… for a dark skin girl.”
With that, another form of subtle racism is ignoring someone. An example of this would be if, for example, a Mexican-American woman walks into a store and needs to be served, but the employee continues to do work around the store like stacking the shelves and cleaning up, pretending as if the woman isn’t even there, but when a white woman enters the store, the employee serves that woman first, instead of the Mexican-American woman who had been waiting.
And because the employee completely ignored her while she was waiting to be served, it made the woman feel like the employee was practically showing that she wasn’t worthy of attention, or customer service, as much as a white person.
Being ignored isn’t the only thing, because a lot of people are based on how they look, too. Some people of different ethnicities may become self-conscious and have a low self-esteem of how they look because of what people have said to them. Some people may think it’s all fun and games while they are making those jokes, but it can really hurt people in the long run.
To follow up on ignoring people of different races as a form of subtle racism, I came across a book that was called Black Like Me. It was written by a guy named John Howard Griffin, who was a white native of Dallas, Texas. Although this book was published in 1961, and times have changed since then, it completely relates to everyday racism.
The book describes his six-week journey and the experiences he had traveling on buses, and even occasionally hitchhiking, through the racially segregated states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, all while passing as a black man. While doing this little experiment, he became accustomed to the “hate stares” he received from white people. Another time during this, while he was on the bus, John Griffin started to give his seat to a white woman, but stopped when he got disapproving looks from black passengers. The woman then decided to insult him and started talking to the other white passengers about how sassy they were becoming.
And while things aren’t as extreme as they used to be, racism still exists today. Subtle racism is something that many people deal with regularly. A stereotype is an idea that is widely known about a person or thing. Stereotypes of races are related to who’s good at Math, sports, dancing, etc. Those social groups are portrayed by a certain idea that people made up of them. For example, if you’re of Asian ethnicity, there are certainly a lot of people out there who may immediately think you’re good at Math, because that is the stereotype of Asians. People have a certain idea of people of different ethnicities, without even really caring how it might affect those people if they say something to them that might seem completely harmless.
Another example of racial issues that people deal with in their daily life is something called racial segregation. Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. That means it can apply to everyday activities like eating in a restaurant, using a public toilet, riding on the bus, attending school, and lots of other things. Segregation can involve spatial separation of the races, and mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.
The good thing is that while racism still is quite a big problem in today’s society, there are organizations and laws that have been formed to work against discrimination against, and the unequal treatment of, people of color, which is a big step up from how things used to be long ago. Even though it might be impossible to entirely stop the amount of racism and discrimination people of color receive, improvements can be made, and they’re always for the better.