Questions About Race from BYM 2010 Annual Session

“Questions About Race” raised at BYM 2010 Annual Session
in response to this invitation by the Working Group on Racism:
“Ask a question about race that you have never had a chance to ask
or to which you have never received a good answer.”

  • How do you address questions of institutional racism without making Caucasians defensive?
  • As “race” becomes an outmoded political category/assumption, how should Friends address its residual issues?
  • How can we encourage more cross pollination between churches/Quaker Meeting on First Day mornings?
  • Why do so few black people go to National Parks?
  • What efforts are being made to eliminate institutional racism within BYM?
  • How can we bridge the gap between civil rights ideals and the daily tensions of the streets?
  • Why do blacks in the Southern US states still have low performance on tests?
  • How do you explain the racial distribution of residents of Washington, DC?  (I believe Baltimore has a similar pattern.)
  • Why do white people say that working hard and valuing education is a White value and not Black?
  • What are the various components of the feeling of entitlement that evidently white people have and what are the various ways it manifests itself?
  • Did the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin promote the abolitionist cause?  If yes, do African Americans* feel that H.B.Stowe’s book had a great impact?
    *Generally.  I am aware it depends on each individual.
  • What’s the problem with integration?  Why don’t some people want to integrate?
  • Knowing a person’s race provides very little (no) useful information regarding behavior or anything else.  Why don’t we admit this and move on.
  • It’s part of the larger picture – we don’t know anything about an individual without getting to know them.
  • I heard an African-American fellow say:  “Integration of my school (as a child) was the worst thing that could have happened.”  Does that surprise you?
  • What sorts of things do white people do that “drive black people crazy”?
  • Why don’t white people admit that being white is GREAT?
  • How might our society and economic system approach some system of payments akin to REPARATIONS and/or INCENTIVES aiding minority community/minority individuals investing in new enterprises and other wealth formation opportunities.
  • How do we appreciate and understand the sensitivities of those who have been so wronged in the past?  I have felt that a person of color was being “too sensitive” over someone’s words.
  • Why has our view of Quakers slaveholders been so limited?  (We begin with the glory days of 1800-1850 but not 1700-1800.)
  • What race am I?
  • Is “race” the same as “sub-specie”?
  • Do we think it’s important that people of different races are somewhat separate in order to preserve unique customs?
  • How many dark-skinned people are in the world? – Age 8
  • How many different skin colors are there in the world?  – Age 8
  • How many black farmers are there?   Age 6
  • Is there racism inside (between the members of) groups that face racism?
  • Why don’t we sit together with the person who looks the most different than our appearance?
  • What makes it so hard to act in the area of racial growth and healing?
  • Was there a time when race itself was not a cause for discrimination – and if this is true, when did the change occur and why?
  • How do you deal with a black foster child who is bipolar?
  • Rage and racism – the relationship coming from a variety of directions – is so damaging.  Quiet racism, the kind we are likely to buy into or accept in so many directions, what documentation, stories, histories do we have about it?
  • Why do we consider Tiger Woods and Barack Obama black?
  • What produced the idea of ‘acting white,’ which seems to so discourage academic performance, etc.?
  • In 25 words or less, could you give a definition of “racism”?
  • How can we raise awareness among white people – the privileges we aren’t even conscious of?  Being white is just plain easier.

The following questions all asked essentially the same question – “Why are we still talking about race?”  The WGR address this question in its entry in the Fall 2010 Interchange.

  • Does our preoccupation with race not perpetuate racism in that we are continually asked to view life through that lens?  If we are constantly asked to box ourselves doesn’t that separate ourselves?
  • Should we focus on race or more on class/socioeconomic things since the society [sic = Society?] is mostly white and those issues affect us as well?
  • What is the difference between race and ethnicity?  How can “race” refer to such categories as Asian, Black, etc., and also to “the human race”?
  • Why are we still talking about race?  It is an artificial construct.
  • What is race?
  • If “race” is based on where people originated geographically/ecologically – what or how does climate change affect “race” today and in the future?  Does “race” matter?
  • Would racism recede if we stopped talking about it so much?  NPR seems to infuse it into many discussions and reports, where it seems hardly a factor.  Does talking more about racism reduce or provoke racism?
  • Why are people so very hung up on race?
  • What is the big deal about “race”?  Why can’t we just “get over it”?
  • Why do we talk in terms of race when there are no races (biologically) in humans?  Our differences are cultural and cross color lines.  How can we update the discussion?
  • Why does the concept of race persist, and who is perpetuating it?  Why can’t we de-institutionalize the concept of race and instead consider each person in her or his own right, without resorting to melanin content or other superficial indicators?
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