The Race Talk
Racial issues cause great discussion in the USA. I was asked to interview a person about The race talk podcast (Steele, 2012). I asked my Latino neighbor from Chile, Gina Rodriguez, to devote 30 minutes of her time to answering my questions. This memo will demonstrate how race issues relate to some basic sociological concepts, namely prejudice, individual discrimination and race as an interactional accomplishment.
Gina is 18 years old. She was born to a family of Chileans who moved to the USA when Gina was 4. The girl identifies herself as a Chilean American and does not like to be called just Latino American. Representatives of Latin American countries have very strong, unique for each region group-oriented cultural backgrounds (Carteret, n. d.). The girl had a chance to experience all racial issues from her childhood and school years until her first year at college. When she was small, her parents almost did not discuss any racial issues with her. She perfectly understands the family interviewed in The race talk, when parents paid their kids’ attention only to specific ethnical issues and warned them not to visit certain places (Steele, 2012). She had the same experience. Until the age of 16, nobody gave Gina a general idea of how to treat her ethnical background. She said: “At the age of 15, a boy whom I really liked made jokes about my skin color, now I understand that it was typical individual discrimination” (G. Rodriguez, personal communication, October 1, 2015). Discussing The race talk, Gina got especially interested in the analysis part, where a child psychology expert expressed her personal opinion on Latinos in the USA. She stated that 4-year-old children know the racial groups they belong to for sure as the category of race is visually settled (Steele, 2012). Now Gina agrees with the above-mentioned expert’s idea that kids are not color blind in the context of race. It is very important to have conversations with children from ethnic minority families on this topic.
My interviewee said, “I am glad not to remember in details, what difficulties I experienced while being a child, as I had enough of them during my adolescence” (G. Rodriguez, personal communication, October 1, 2015). That was a period when parents tried to have a major talk with Gina. She tried to communicate with African American boys and girls who experienced the same problems. She did not know how to define her place in a group of students and how to block their possible attacks. When Gina was 17, she developed a new perception of her ethnicity. The adolescents from the circle of her communication grew up and realized that treating a person should not depend on his or her race. Supporting the point of view of The race talk participants, Gina is absolutely sure that erroneous stereotypes will be definitely formed if parents in ethnic minority families in the USA do not have major conversations with their children about ethnicity. Besides the mentioned sociological concepts of prejudice and individual discrimination, applicable to Gina’s story, I can also mention the issue of race as an interactional accomplishment. In this case, race is considered to be one of the aspects forming the identity of a person (Pascale, 2013). Gina unconsciously followed this idea, managing to avoid racial passing and stayed a harmonic personality.
In my family, ideas of race were shaped according to one unique principle: all people are created equal, no matter where they were born. I told my parents about how other children could offend non-white Americans. My family answered that life would show my friends how to treat people correctly. The same as Gina, I did not have a major conversation about races. I recommend all parents to listen to The race talk and learn how to discuss ethnical questions with their children.
Carteret, M. (n. d.). Cultural values of Latino patients and families. Dimensions of culture. Retrieved from http://www.dimensionsofculture.com/2011/03/cultural-values-of-latino-patients-and-families/
Pascale, C.-M. (2013). Routine matters: Racialization in everyday life. In Making sense of race, class and gender (pp. 23 – 51). New York, NY: Routledge.
Steele, R. (2012, August 29). “The race talk”. Podcast retrieved from http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/race-talk-102026