Racial Journal Project
I would love to say that after observing and listening to what the people around me say I have learned that racism is no longer around and that people don’t discriminate, but I would be lying. This semester, compared to past semesters, I was not as social simply because I had a lot on my plate and I couldn’t let myself lose focus, but I was around enough people to know that I live in a society that doesn’t grasp just how awful racism really is. I had entries related to tv shows, articles I read, conversations I overheard, conversations I had been in, even people’s body language. What stood out to me time and time again were the messages portrayed on TV, people’s beliefs about people of mixed race, and what has been going on in the news recently.
My first observation was with TV, both for children and adults. Children’s shows are not nearly as diverse as they once were and they don’t really teach lessons the way TV shows I watched did. In my personal opinion, they’re pointless. Growing up, my parents made sure that I read more than I watched TV, and even when I watched TV they wouldn’t let me watch shows that turned my brain into mush. I grew up watching shows like “The Proud Family” and “That’s So Raven,” which were both on Disney Channel. Both shows were based on black families and the main characters were black teenage females whose friends were also racially diverse. Even though these shows were on, Disney they explored deep topics and taught me important lessons. Why is it that within the last six years TV has gone backwards? The shows I watched were popular and had a lengthy running time by Disney standards. People of all backgrounds enjoyed them and it was a way to show children a different side of black culture, the silly, goofy, successful side that many don’t see and don’t even know exists.
The “grown up” TV I watch is more diverse with characters, but the underlying message has to be questioned. The first show, “Meet the Fosters,” is on ABC Family. I commend that network specifically for making shows that explore what is going on in the society around us. The show is about a foster family made up of a lesbian couple (one white, one biracial), adopted Latino twins, a little boy and girl who have been tossed around the system, and a boy that one of the women gave birth to in a previous marriage. I’ve watched every season and Mariana and Lena are by far the two characters that I personally identify with most. Mariana, one of the twins, went through a lot dealing with her own ethnic identity. Mariana is fully aware that she is Latina, but her struggle has been finding a way to accept her own culture despite not being raised by Latino parents. She wants to fit in and went as far as dying her hair blonde. I understand her desire to fit in, I haven’t gone as far as dying my hair another color, simply because my parents didn’t let me dye my hair until I was 18. I will admit that I spent hours upon hours straightening my hair because my natural hair didn’t look like anyone elses. It takes me about 4 hours to do my hair and I would lock myself in the bathroom just to make sure my hair was pin straight. It wasn’t until college that I started to wear my hair natural and when I did I got so many compliments from people. I embraced looking different. Lena, one of the moms, is mixed with black and white. She has expressed on a number of occasions what her own personal struggles have been with not feeling accepted by her peers and at times her own family. Personally I understand exactly what Lena was feeling. My parents have always made sure to expose me to both of my cultures, but I have always gotten it from others that I’m not enough of one or the other. I cannot neglect that I have and may never face the same struggles that some Latinas and Blacks face, but neither will a large population of people in both groups. There are also struggles that a lot of people don’t