What is race to me? That is a very difficult question to answer because not only is race a very complex topic but it’s a very controversial topic, there’s a lot of other things tied to that word: judgment, discrimination, intolerance, etc. You cannot say the word race or discuss race without being looked at the wrong way. Whenever someone brings up the topic it seems as if we are walking on a tightrope, watching every single syllable that comes out of our mouths so that we do not offend anyone. Though race is supposed to mean the color of your skin alone, there are unfortunately so many other alternative connotations with the word.
Personally, I feel like race should not be a big deal. I feel like it should just be used when describing someone, but that does not mean we are describing someone negatively now if we describe someone by their race. For example, if I was describing someone to someone else I would say something like, “Oh, the tall blonde with blue eyes.” Completely harmless, right? It’s when you add someone’s race into the matter when it could start to get offensive. And I think that’s just a mind over matter deal. Obviously in our past we used words to describe race in a negative manner. But that’s the past, and I realize its cliché to say that we have grown from that point, but it’s true. Sure, there are some cases where that’s not the case, but for the most part across America I would say that we have pretty tolerable.
But, also I’m white. If there were to be intolerance I probably wouldn’t witness it. And it’s not that I don’t experience intolerance itself, because I believe that it can come into your life in other ways. I just really haven’t faced racial intolerance. But I have seen racial intolerance take place, so I know what it looks like. It’s usually in minor things that people say or see that I wouldn’t think twice about. A great example in Americanah would be when Ifemelu is trying to explain to Curt how she doesn’t feel represented in the magazines because there aren’t people “like her” in the magazines. Curt being a white male doesn’t quite understand what she’s saying because he doesn’t face intolerance like that. The difference with me is that I understand where she’s coming from, it just doesn’t usually happen to me. So, to learn what it’s like to feel racial intolerance I have learned about it through those around me and things I’ve read or seen in the world today. And I know that intolerance isn’t completely obliterated, but I think we are growing to get to that place. Obviously it will take a little while to get to that point, if we are able to. But, I think we are taking the right steps now to get to that point. Maybe I’m wrong, that’s just my opinion. Maybe these blogs will help me realize I’m wrong if I am.