We Are All a Little Racist. Some of Us More Than Others.

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Most people were shocked and appalled by what Paula Deen got caught saying last week.

Were you really all that surprised by it?

A “Southern Belle” over the age of 60, raised in the heart of the Deep South? Really?

I’m not sure if Paula Deen and her brother Bubba even understand why what they did was so wrong? It was something that they’re accustoming to saying. I am sure they speak like this all the time around their friends and like-minded people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m disgusted by it and think we, as a society, in no way should turn a blind eye to it. I definitely think she should be held accountable for her actions.

This is a great learning opportunity for all us to sit with our own prejudices. Let’s face it, we are all a little prejudiced.

Prejudice means to “pre-judge.”

We all do that! I know I do and I’m working on it. If you don’t consider yourself prejudiced you certainly have been racially or culturally insensitive at one time or another in your life. I know you didn’t mean it.  Let’s face it, it’s just the way it is.

Being prejudiced is part of history. It’s woven into the very fabric of who we are. I have spent most of my life feeling it in one way or another.

I remember the very first time I felt it on a much bigger scale. It was on one of our biggest family vacations; I remember driving through Tennessee and Georgia on our way to Florida in the early ’80s and just feeling like anything could happen. It was this tight, strained uneasy feeling that being different was a threat to our safety. A black family with foreign license plates (I’m Canadian) driving through the southern United States was uncomfortable to say the least. It was the one of the very first times I heard my father called the “N” word loudly in a very public place. It was frightening.

For all of my life I have been defined as a minority. The definition of minority to me means “less than.” I internalized that for a time and it kept me limited in the way I thought about myself.

I think the intention in creating this word was to  identify different cultures. Unfortunately, it just grouped all of us non-white folk together in a homogenous lump. It created the feeling of us versus them, and we were going to lose badly. The incident with Paula Deen reminded me of just how far we have come in a very short amount of time. The civil rights movement is really not all that long ago. Now there is a black president in office.

When I look at the world today, it’s far more diverse and socially conscious, especially in the last 10 years. I attribute that to education, technology and to a more diverse work place. In the past, we wouldn’t have heard about Paula Deen’s comments on such a worldwide stage. It would have simply been swept under the rug and perhaps not addressed at all. It’s great to have a front seat to see how the world is evolving.

The word “minority” will need to be retired very soon. Shortly, in North America there will be no distinguishable majority.

In December of 2012, the New York Times reported that “according to Census Bureau projections released Wednesday, no single racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of children under 18. And in about three decades, no single group will constitute a majority of the country as a whole.”

It’s time to embrace diversity in all forms. It’s time to become more culturally sensitive and aware of the world around us. Soon you will have no choice.

We are living in exciting times. So, as individuals, how can we change our ideas and be more open to experiencing diversity?

By being more conscious of the world around us, more conscious of the language we use and the people it affects. As a yoga teacher, I am always trying to encourage my students to think outside the box. I want people to see that in front of them are other souls who aren’t any different. We are more the same than we are different. Diversity in all forms is not to be feared.

It starts with being bold. Yoga has taught me that life outside the box is far more interesting. If you want a change of perspective, cultivate a yoga practice. When I say “yoga” I don’t mean a physical practice. I mean start living in the moment and experiencing life in different ways. Yoga is really about living life unbound by external influence and being able to trust your heart. Yoga poses on their own are not necessary to live in awareness. If we live by the teachings, we minimize our chances of being prejudiced and culturally insensitive.

Yoga teaches us:

  • To do no harm,
  • To be kind,
  • To be truthful,
  • Not to steal,
  • Not be jealous of others
  • Not  to live a life of excess
  • To have pure heart
  • To surrender to all that is

Remember the power is within you to change what you see and how your react. Embrace what is!



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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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Dianne Bondy

Dianne is an E-RYT 500 the founder of Yogasteya.com, and Co-founder of Yoga for All Online Teacher Training yogaforalltraining.com. She loves to educate, share, celebrate yoga and diversity and is a contributing author for Yoga and Body Image: A New anthology.

She is also featured in Yes Yoga Has Curves and Yoga Journal. She is a columnist for the Elephant Journal, loves public speaking, runs yoga retreats, trains yoga teachers, has a devoted husband, two small boys and not enough sleep. Dianne is big, black, bold and loves all things yoga.

Try to keep up with Dianne on Facebook, Twitter, and DianneBondyYoga.com instagram
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anonymous Jul 2, 2013 2:33pm

"We are all a little racist, some more than others" creates a false equivalency that does not exist in the real world and historical record. White racism, white supremacy are systems of oppression that have evolved from racism 1.0 to racism/white supremacy 2.0. Institutionalized systems of racism and white supremacy, that maintain economic, political, social and cultural dominance of white people cannot be compared to the totally non-effect that my prejudice could have upon any body. A large segment of the Black population lives in poverty and degradation because of white racism and white supremacy. People suffer and die every day and have done so for centuries due to this racism. How many white folks suffer from the effects of so-called "Black racism"? There is no such thing as Black racism because there is no power dynamic associated with it.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 5:53pm

Spirayoga thanks I appreciate your insights and your courage for speaking up. I was getting so much shade on this I was wondering if anyone actually got the point of the article.. I am always interested in seeing what people pay attention too? I find people get emotional and sometimes miss the point. I watched black folks get torn up by dogs and blasted with fire hoses during the civil right movement in the south. A picture that is burned into my brain of Governor Wallace keeping a black student out of university and black people getting attacked at the lunch counter…this happened right ? in south right? not all that long ago. I watched my Dad be humiliated at Kmart in 1983in Georgia. It is still close to the surface. It will take about 100 years to really put some distance to this.

    anonymous Jun 28, 2013 8:26am

    But it didn't just happen only in the South…..it happened everywhere. I remember as a child on a trip to a big northern city seeing two water fountains — there were signs above them…one said "white" the other said "colored". Of course in my child's mind I couldn't understand why anyone would ever want to drink plain old white water when they could have colored water! There were PLENTY of atrocities in the north. At the age of 4 I was dressed in hoop skirts and a bandana and had my face blacked with burnt cork and sang "Momma's Little Baby Loves Shortnin' Bread" at the annual minstrel show at our small town all white high school. Inappropriate….you bet! But at the time it was a cultural way of being. You don't change generations of cultural programming overnight. It is a process….we need to be patient with the path to change, and try to help the ones who are struggling by being compassionate and giving them a reason to change….not crucify them and give them reasons to remain stuck in the old mindset.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 4:25pm

Great article. I'm sure all of the commenters here giving you flack are absolutely perfect and always say things that are agreeable to all. Ha! Of course there are 5 of you who know people from the south who aren't racist. Big whoop. There's a reason Southerners have that reputation. Have you ever seen photos of lynchings and hangings down south? Um, yeah, they exist, and they happened in the south.

Like the author, I was not surprised by it. As a New Englander, I don't take offense to people saying we're a cold, unfriendly bunch. Lots of people here are! And if you're getting hung up on all of that, you're missing the point of the article.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 3:41pm

http://mischiefsoffaction.blogspot.com.es/2013/02… gives two charts indicating that white southerners are a bit more racially bigoted than white northerners. http://themonkeycage.org/2013/02/27/racial-polari… gives two studies saying much the same. This isn't to say racism is somehow exclusive to any location (or race, etc.), but statistically, the south is more racist.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 2:19pm

"It was something that they’re accustoming to saying. I am sure they speak like this all the time around their friends and like-minded people."

Do you have any evidence for this assertion? What's the basis for your certainty in this regard? This seems to me to be just as prejudicial on your part against 'Southern folk' as that of which Deen herself is accused.

Apparently, Deen maintains that she used the n-word after a bank robbery in which she was a teller being held up. I haven't seen any news reports that indicate that she speaks like this 'all the time.'

Seem like this could be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. So to speak.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 1:09pm

FWIW, I was raised in the South and have lived here most of my life and some of the most progressive people I ever met were Southerners while some of the most racist people I have know were from the North including the "progressive" New England area.

Oh, and before the strawman argument is thrown out that "Comedians/ rappers say that word all the time!", etc., I hate that word. I don't like it, but I respect the arguments by some Black people that using it in that context is a way to liberate it from the meaning when it was used by others and the political connotations behind it.

Also, it is a world of difference if Jay-Z uses it in a lyric or calls Kayne West "my n****a" and if he was using it in his business offices and people complained.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2013 1:56pm

    I don't think ANYONE should use that word. I never want to "reclaaim it"

      anonymous Jun 28, 2013 8:09am

      I think we have to be mindful of context and semantics. The offensive word evolved from the original term describing the race and color of skin. "negro" It means black. In the southern drawl it came out "negra" and you can see how it evolved from there. And not all southerners or slave owners used it in a derogatory fashion. As we became more politically correct there were new terms that were deemed more appropriate than negro. "Black" was what was deemed appropriate. (Which I find more offensive because not all people of that race are black.) Then African-American came into vogue. But I don't get that…..aren't we all just Americans…..or just fellow human beings? Its all very confusing…..what IS the correct term for me to refer to you as? Thirty years from now is someone going to be called racist because we grew up with using the term Black (which was acceptable, even preferred by that race) and now there is a MORE politically correct term we should be using? "Why can't we all just get along?"

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 12:05pm

Just because one is raised in the South doesn't mean one is raciest, and we don't all walk around barefoot and pregnant. Paula may not have been wise with her thoughts or words but she will be ok and come back stronger. Strange that there is even a law suit, worse things are said in the lyrics of songs today.
Funny how we choose to judge what is right and wrong depending on the person.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 11:02am

"A “Southern Belle” over the age of 60, raised in the heart of the Deep South? Really?"

Please do not *ever* presume racism based on demographics ~ what a horrible generalization, and quite offensive.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2013 1:54pm

    You are totally right! There is no way I should make that generalization. Which makes my point . We are a little racist – There you have it my own prejudice

    anonymous Jun 28, 2013 7:46am

    I don't see that there is racism presumed in that statement. A broad characterization that is perhaps too general, yes. However, there are certainly cultural norms that are strongly tied to any geographic location. One does not have to follow them, but if you are raised in a certain area one tends to follow those cultural norms and believe that this is the way the world is. Kind of like following the crowd in high school. I grew up in the midwest. My fat her was very racially biased and it was difficult for me to reconcile the fact that he was such a kind, giving, simple person and at the same time held such prejudice. I think he, himself,was conflicted about that. He would give a black hitchhiker a ride to the next state and talk with him like he had known him all his life….but in his mind blacks didn't belong in the same social circles as whites….because of the way he was raised. I would be interested to know how old you are. The advent of the civil rights movement and the advances made in technology and communication systems turned the world on its head and completely yanked comfortable, familiar ways of living out from under a whole bunch of people. If you weren't there to experience it, it makes sense that you can't make any sense of it. Don't get me wrong….that yanking was a good thing….but it certainly was painful and confusing,
    and those who experienced it are still trying to recover and function in a whole different genre.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 10:46am

Just curious how the author knows that this is how she and her children speak all of the time with each other and with like minded friends…please share your facts with us.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2013 2:02pm

    Donald I made no mention of her children? Where did you read that? When like minded individuals get together they talk about things they have in common-that's way their are friends? People share common language and ideas . I think that's a fair statement.

anonymous Jun 27, 2013 10:26am

"Most people were shocked and appalled by what Paula Deen got caught saying last week. Were you really all that surprised by it? A “Southern Belle” over the age of 60, raised in the heart of the Deep South? Really?"-Yes, I was shocked by it because according to the lawsuit, she said that word between 2005-2010. Had she said this even 30 years ago, I might have given her a pass. However, there is a disconnect over her comments on the "Today" show where she claims the last time she said this was 30 years ago after being held up (and again, I will give her a pass on that) and the claims in the deposition. Google the deposition for the full transcript. CNN and others had it.

FWIW, my (white) mother is three years older than Deen. She does not say that word. Deen was born in 1947 and came of age during the Civil Rights Era. There is no excuse to use that word in a place of business. None.

    anonymous Jun 27, 2013 1:51pm

    Kimberlyowriter thank you so much for putting this perspective. You hit the nail on the head and gave me even more to think about. I didn't have all details. I wrote this blog to have a conversation just like this. Thank you for your clarity and passion