Ok, as a bleeding heart liberal it pains me to say this, but as a white female I know this is true in some form. I am a racist. I stereotype. I make judgments about a person’s intent based on his or her appearance. I do my best not to, but I do.
I have held my purse closer to my body when a black man got on the elevator. I have walked across the street to avoid a homeless person asking me for money. I have quickened my pace when a ‘sketchy’ looking white man followed too closely on the way to my car. I have made assumptions about intelligence based on an accent. These are all actions based on perceptions not facts.
I have friends from all over the place all colors, religions, nationalities, sexual preferences, but I pick and choose them . . . and, I pick and choose them on things like education and socio-economic factors. I am not nearly as inclusive as I like to think I am. We need to be able to have the discussion about why we behave in certain ways. We need to be able to discuss what offends us and why, but everyone is so caught up in how they are perceived and political correctness that we no longer have these conversations, even with friends and family.
The truth is while I know what it is like to be judged, I have no idea what it is like to be oppressed. I have been made fun of personally and dismissed professionally at times based on my appearance. I have been the object of unwanted stares and even been touched at times and places I feel inappropriate while in professional and social environments. But, I in no way no or understand oppression or what it is like to be a different race or religion, to be judged so immediately and frequently harshly based on very easily identified traits.