Realising Difference

Realising Difference

The last few days, I got some questions about when I realized I had a port wine stain, looking ‘different’. In yesterday’s lecture on identities/gender/racism of the inspiring course I follow, we talked about how kids respond before they know how to respond in a socially desired way. The kids were interviewed and had to pick between a white and a black doll and were questioned things like “Who is the Boss?” or “Who is more naughty?” or “who is smarter”. The results were shocking. Despite the sad facts of the results of the experiment (whiteness with positive/dominant associations vs. blackness with negative), it got me thinking “when did I realize I had a different color?”. I must have been 3 or 4, quite young, probably when going to school. As we all know, kids are sometimes brutally honest, and I must have gotten comments from other kids. But I think by then, my parents somehow already made sure I was aware of my look, and probably in some way talked to me about my stain. What for me was quite telling from this abovementioned experiment, is that none of the parents in the documentary wanted to comment on what their kids had said, only those parents commented whose kids had responded quite neutral about skin color. These parents were the ones who talked openly with their kids about difference. The ones that did not comment did not want to make an issue of it, they’d rather not put attention on it. My parents did talk with me about what I had, always, and very openly.
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I think that if we are willing to discuss sensitive matters like these, and invest in becoming aware of our unconscious assumptions we have of other people, we try to make the world a better place. Not by hiding, but being vulnerable about the sometimes wrong assumptions we have. By not resisting and fearing, but by being aware and putting in the work on the flaws we all have. Being willing to recognize that what we take for granted might not be right, and being willing to turn it around. That is what matters. Change is a process, and doesn’t need to come easy, but at least let’s be willing to start it.