This quote (my favorite) from Don Quixote has been cited, paraphrased and adapted countless times.
Is it crazy to see the world as we would like to see it, or crazier to insist on seeing it “as it is”? Our perception of reality is subjective, so who is to say how we should interpret our experiences or dictate what is real for us?
When it comes to racism, the question isn’t if it exists or if we want to get rid of it. Of course it does; of course we do. The question is HOW it presents itself and how we work towards eliminating manifestations of it. There is no authoritative, definitive answer to either. Our experiences of it are highly individual, as are our responses.
As a Latina, I’ve experienced racism. I have also experienced unfavorable treatment and negative outcomes that likely had nothing to do with my membership in a particular ethnic group. Under-attributing situations to racism is problematic, but so is over-attributing.
My perception can influence my reality, and I always have a choice in how I react. This is well-established psychology that doesn’t have a racism or prejudice exception. Sharing my experiences with people outside my ethnic group and hearing them respond “wow I have had a very different experience” or instead, “yeah, I have had that happen to me too” helps me determine if or how much my race or ethnicity was a factor. No one else can claim this for me or deny me of it.
And self-perception is contagious. How I view myself affects how I perceive others view me, which in turn influences how others actually see me. I check that my treatment of others is aligned with how I “see the world”. These practices aren’t the antidotes to racism and prejudice, but they are part of my reality.
How are you choosing to see the world, and are you acting accordingly?