This prompt comes from the book, Is Everyone Really Equal? (pp. 108-109). It is called a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.
Answer these questions in whatever order feels right.
- At what point in your life were you MOST aware that people from racial groups other than your own existed?
- If you were aware of the existence of people from racial groups other than your own, where did they live?
- If they did not live in your neighborhood, what kind of neighborhood did they live in? Were their neighborhoods considered “good” or “bad”?
- What images did you associate with these other neighborhoods? What about sights and smells?
- What kind of activities did you think went on there? Where did your ideas come from?
- Were you encouraged to visit their neighborhoods? Or were you discouraged from visiting their neighborhoods?
- If you attended a school considered “good,” what made it “good”? Conversely, what made it “bad”?
- Who went to “bad” schools?
- Were the schools in your neighborhood racially segregated? How and why?
- If you were told by teachers and/or parents that “all people are equal regardless of their skin,” yet you lived separately from different racial groups, what message did that send? In other words, what does it mean to say that all people are equal while simultaneously living separately from them? Sensoy and DiAngelo argue that “our lived separation is a more powerful message than our words of inclusion because the separation is manifested in action, while inclusion is not.“ What do you think of that?
If some of these questions do not apply to the cultural context you grew up in, adjust the questions to capture how you learned about racial difference. How did you see people form racial groups residing outside of your nation state or from ethnic groups different from your own residing in your nation state? How did class difference shape where you lived and how you learned your “place” in society? Consider the impact of whiteness as a global phenomenon? What did you learn it meant to be white? What did you learn it meant to be a member of a racial group that is not white?