Usually it's not so bad. It's a little strange to me (it's a statistical anomaly since our medical school is not 100% white) but that's all. But there are moments that I want to kill someone or shake them until they will listen or at least shut up.
Some background --- The woman who runs the diversity/sociocultural education part of our medical school curriculum is a black woman. She's also a narcissist and not the most sympathetic character. I don't even like her that much. I agree that there are personality traits of hers that are unpleasant. I also agree that she's not particularly effective at her professional duties related to diversity education in the medical school.
However, there's something about a bunch of white people just sitting around, criticizing folks of color about the way they approach race that really pisses me off. The fact that making fun of this woman is actually a common occurance with these folks (a gathering a few months ago, also all white people except for me, also visited the topic) is a worrisome sign. The complaints against her vary from personal to professional. Everything from the moment that she turned to her husband (another doctor) during a presentation and asked point blank, "How does it feel to be the less successful spouse?" to the time that she held a diversity panel with only black women and finally to the ever famous time she talked about her struggling through her personal issues with having a white nanny. They rehash the same transgressions each time until ultimately, these stories culminate to the final, self-righteous, damning accusation: it's her fault that we're learning nothing about diversity. Furthermore, because of her, our classmates don't take any of these issues seriously. It's a real tragedy. The convenience of this argument lies in the fact that they have now washed their hands of responsibility for their own ignorance.
This discussion on diversity education then wanders to the other components of our curriculum that are supposed to address sociocultural issues. They complain that the small groups that we're placed in are supposed to help us learn from each other, but as white folks, they're too scared to say the wrong thing to really engage. I agree and talk about how sometimes it's actually more effective to address race issues if you actually separate those who identify as white with those who don't. I also point out from the minority perspective, there's not much impetus to talk. Most of us are tired of being ignored and being told we're wrong, so we don't even talk anymore because we think they won't listen.
Ironically, the same people who are lamenting these lost educational opportunities are also sitting around at a social function with only white people who also only date white people. I actually did the statistical analysis. A count of the medical school puts non-white people at 30% of the population. With 15 people in that room and only me as non-white we were 6.6%. A t-test comparing the two proportions indicates that they are significantly different populations with a p<.05. That's geek evidence for saying it is highly unlikely that the fact that the room was all white was random; this group of white people was chosen.
When I point out (probably quite aggressively) that they're not doing much to really address diversity issues within themselves, with this party population as evidence, they of course get very defensive. "It just happened that way." "I had all friends of color in college. They called me an egg." "I was an anthropology major, how could I be a racist?!" I don't have room in this post to address the ridiculous ignorance of those statements.
It's clear throughout this conversation that they see themselves as the enlightened but I find myself reliving those small groups all over again. Once again, there are folks saying ignorant shit and then being unable to listen. I'm pissed off to the point where I regret even opening up the conversation in the first place. My friend H was right, I should have gone to sleep. I would have been a better use of time.
When we go to bed, my girlfriend can tell that I'm angry. And to her credit, she gets it and did try to chime in during the conversation in support. I go to bed thankful that she understands these issues. But when I wake up this morning, I'm still angry. How the hell is a bunch of white people, who clearly have their own unconscious racism and aren't admitting it, much less doing much to address it, gonna tell some black lady that she's doing a bad job? And I'm angry that these are the friends that my girlfriend keeps.
It's not the minority's job to teach you about your own privilege and racism. We do it because we find that if we don't try to teach you, you won't learn. We do it because we've learned that it's in our best interest to do make you understand. But that doesn't mean if we don't do a good job, if we can't cross the gap well enough, that it's our fault and you can simply mourn a lost opportunity. "It's too bad they were so angry, it made me defensive so I couldn't hear what they were saying." "It's too bad that person's personality wasn't great, it prevented me from actually hearing the content of her words." How about you put in a little fucking effort? It's like a starving person blaming the chef who keeps putting food in front of him that he's dying because the food he's cooking isn't good enough.