Feeling vs Seeing Race

Bringing it back to our conversation regarding race and its origins, we talked about how exactly the idea of race came to be. After a detailed discussion and the viewing of a film in class (in which the name of it I am unsure of), it became clear that the idea of racism is just that- an idea. This idea could not have started with just one person, because if only one person believed in it then it never would have become as prominent in our society as it did. Therefore, racism is a collective idea that is fueled by those who continue to feed into it. 

Because racism is in fact an idea, it is therefore not physically existing, tangible, in the world. According to dictionary.com, tangible is defined as “capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial” or “real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary”. Some may argue that it’s substantial or real because we can see race; different skin tones, facial features, etc., however, a video I came across on social media really made me think about this subject:

This video I came across on Youtube is an experiment involving a couple each sitting on one side of a curtain- the boyfriend had to identify his girlfriend by feeling several hands and identifying which was hers. While watching this video, I began to wonder about what would happen if someone were to do this, but instead of a couple, a white person would have to identify which hand he/she felt belonged to a black person, or vise versa. Although I was not able to actually carry out this hypothetical experiment, I believe that the result would be similar to the one in the video: the boyfriend simply could not identify his girlfriend based on only touch. Therefore, how could we confidently identify skin color, or different features, simply by touch? The answer is simple, we couldn’t do it.

Why? Because racism is not tangible, it is an idea formed from the collective minds of the public that could just as easily be destroyed if the public were to collectively overpower the stigma of how someone looks vs who someone is. We are all living, breathing human beings co-existing in the world together. Just because an apple looks different than a banana doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. They’re both still fruits!

Although this is only a small piece of what racism entails, I thought it was interesting to think about and could be a very eye-opening experiment to possibly initiate.

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