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Culture or not, people everywhere have a natural predisposition to fear those who do not look like themselves and their close genetic relatives. It's important to recognize this part of what we're dealing with, too, as we strive to build a more just world.


I agree with Scott. We are genetically predisposed to descriminate--it's how our brain and psychology work. That doesn't mean that we can't rationalize our fears and misconceptions and learn to treat all humans humanely.
As for a small child calling the beaded and feathered dancers "Indians", there is no crime there. He understands the world in simplistic terms, and just because he didn't use the PC form of the word doesn't mean that someone should be offended (or embarrassed). Incidentally, my own little girl said to me: "Mami, mira a los indios". (an equally loaded term in Spanish)


yes! thank you! internalized racism is the hardest thing to acknowledge, but we have to do it. and you have to keep doing it. i try to keep my little "kate, that was racist" voice alive when i do things like reflexively lock my car doors when i see a black mn walking toward my car, but not when a white man does.

great post, thanks again.


Full disclosure: oxlajuj is the friend with whom I went to the Pow Wow. It wasn't so much that the kidlet used the word "Indians" instead of Native Americans that embarassed me, it was the way that he seemed to be looking at them, as if they were some strange exotic thing that you go to see in a show instead of as people that we might interact with everyday. That's what upset me.

Also,I think a lot if not most of our disposition to discriminate is learned.

Dave Munger

I've been reading through the blog against racism posts, and yours is the first one that moved me to tears. Well done! Thanks so much for this!

Cowtown Pattie

Very good, Ms. Nina.

I try to be a better person and insist I am not "racist", but the truth is I am very much a product of the Texas landscape where just being from another state evokes racists comments from the natives.

Sour Duck

Fantastic post.

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