Growing up I absorbed the life of my hometown, Tama, Iowa. I was raised to respect all people, including the Native Americans with whom we shared the community. I saw my parents practice fairness and respect every day. Everyone seemed to accept my mom, a Japanese American. But I was unaware that I was developing hidden and racist beliefs anyway.
The Meskwaki were considered by some to be inferior to the white people in Tama. They were called names. Though they had bought their land, it was considered a privilege that they lived among us. They spoke their own language at school. People said they were living off the government.
I thought I had no prejudice toward the Meskwaki. I didn’t think anything would mark me as a believer/promoter of racial inequality, ignorance, fear or hate. Especially as a woman of tan skin color. But I was wrong about the Meskwaki and others. I have become especially aware of my prejudices since the murder of George Floyd.
My beliefs, ones that I had been aware of, and some I had not, are part of the problem of today’s racial inequality and unequal treatment of Black, brown and tan citizens. We carry beliefs that are of ignorance, fear and hatred.
We’ve got to look inward, to our own negative, unfounded and unknown beliefs. We must bring ourselves to be a part of real and essential change. We must learn to unlearn.