The trauma of slavery and racism is still evident in today's generations, so I observe and believe. As a Jewish woman, I did not experience the Holocaust, nor did my American parents (though they lived through the war, neither were 'in' the war, either as combatants or victims). Nevertheless, European relatives disappeared or were incarcerated and this certainly had an effect on them. I was born a few years after the end of the war, but I always say that I grew up in what I call "the shadow of the Holocaust." It was very real in the stories of my family, through my parents and grandparents. I also grew up experiencing my share of antisemitism, and it shaped my life and my attitudes toward bigotry and racism. I'm not conflating racism against Black and Brown people in America with antisemitism. They aren't the same, a Euro-origin Jew can 'pass' and so may benefit from the same white privilege given to anyone of European ancestry. Still, growing up Jewish in a very white Christian normative society gave me insight into life as an outsider and an object of bigotry. It has helped me understand that we live in a racist society, that racism is the sea in which we swim, and that those ideas may be in me, too. It is in this spirit I wish to enter into this study, to know that these things are part of me, too. My goals must include coming to terms with what racism is in me, even though I consider myself anti-racist and have acted on that in some circumstances.
I was also struck by the question on the pretest about "seeing color." It's something I hear often, and about which I profoundly disagree. It is my opinion that anyone who claims not not "see color" unless he is actually blind is self-deluded or just plain lying. We see color, just as we see size, shape, gender, length of hair, style of dress, etc. We are supposed to see those things. It's information that once may have been necessary to our survival: Is this a friendly or unfriendly person or creature? It is what we do with that information that matters, not whether we "see" it or not. And therein lies a huge problem. We are so infused with racist images and views that it's difficult not to jump to conclusions about it. This has been true for hundreds of years in this country, and Black and Brown people are still being threatened, marginalized, and traumatized by it. The racism is more subtle now. We aren't bombarded by blatant stereotypes as much, but it's still clear that "the norm" = white Christian. By the way, I understand why this is being led by a person of European origin (I really don't like the term 'white' because we aren't), because it is people of European origin that made this system, and it's up to us to clean it up. Racism is NOT a problem of the object of the racist system, it is a problem of the creator and perpetrator of that system.