The Race: A Reflection

We all start off in different places in life.

It’s not an alien idea or concept. We know claims of complete equality in America is about as true as the idea that teenagers love going to school.

Our justice system, our universities, our prisons, and our workplaces all see the blatant effects of white privilege. I’d always known that – I didn’t consider myself naïve in that aspect.

But I had never realized the direct impact played in my own life and the lives of the people who are so close to me.

People were suffering and benefiting at the hands of white privilege in my own school and community – my very own classmates.

The Race was truly an emotional, yet eye-opening and necessary activity. In fact, it was more than just an activity. It was a jarring sort of symbolism, a representation of the injustices of racial inequity. The face that some of my friends were so far behind terrified me and broke my heart.

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How was that fair?

It often came down to fairness. Someone, any one of my colored friends could work twice as hard as any of my white friends, and end up twice as far behind.

But something that I took from that race and from our unit on race was that it wasn’t fair. And we’re living in that world.

The Race truly brought to light the hand white privilege had in everyone’s lives. A complex interplay of our race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class determined our place in that race, the amount of work we’d have to put in to get to that finish line.

It seemed so far to those at the back – what was the point of even trying? And despite the flaws and inaccuracies present in this activity, the frustration felt by those who are disadvantaged by white privilege is very real and very representative of how many colored people go about living their lives.

Rejected from universities, turned down by employers, convicted by white judges. Unable to enjoy many of the things whites take for granted – not being questioned or interrogated by authority, not having to fear being assaulted by police, being respected and treated as equal at work, at school, anywhere – not being Public Enemy No. 1.

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Despite all this, one of the saddest things to me about this activity was how teary-eyed and upset my white friends felt, those at the very front. They felt guilt. They felt it was their fault that they were at the front and their colored friends were at the back. But this is another issue we must address, and subsequently eliminate.

Yet something that actually made me proud was the way that even after it was announced that we could “start the race”, no one moved an inch. No one even dare breathe – the tension was palpable in the air, and all remained still. It seemed preposterous – how could we even consider running when there was such deviation in where we started? So rather than taking advantage of the situation, those at the front stayed in place.

And as we linked hands, we tried our hardest to stay together – not get ahead of one another. There was a completely different mentality from what would be expected.

If anything could help combat white privilege, it would be the perpetuation of an attitude like that.

I was very surprised to find that we weren’t running that day – but what we did do was exhausting in an altogether different way.
 

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