Posted by: T. Boyd | May 16, 2023

My Racism Journey

From my personal journal – the prior parts will be added later.

20 April 2023 (updated 16 May 2023)

Another blind spot unveiled today!  Something new revealed in my innate white attitude:  That my speech patterns are hard for others to understand, while I thought that if people would just speak like me, we would be able to understand what each other is saying much more easily.

We chose in 2014 to move into a mixed race, inner city neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia. And I found out the hard way today that my “accent” (though I would deny that I have any) makes it hard for persons not raised in my Texas white culture, with our speech patterns, to understand what I say as well!  That never occurred to me before.

Here is how that  happened.  I noticed my neighbor drove his Jeep-like car to his gate in the back via the alley way.  So I walked over to speak to him while he opened his gate, and we talked in a good conversation.

I kept making sure I was understanding his thoughts by having him repeat more slowly each word till I got it.  It was the first time since we moved next door to him in 2014 that the conversation was two-way, where we both understood all that was said.

At the end of our exchange, I told him about that.  And said something like, “Norman, I just can’t understand you most of the time.”  And he replied, “You know what, Boyd?  I can’t understand you either!”

I laughed, and realized that I had never even considered that possibility!  That my way of speaking is, I thought, the proper way of talking, and everyone should be able to easily understand me!  (This, in spite of my wife telling me for years that I am one of the worst mumblers that she knows).

I guess I never opened my mind’s eye to that possibility.  I always blamed others for the difficulties of communication between us, and hoped that they would have sympathy for my hearing difficulty; and that they would compensate for the problem; never admitting that I was the problem, not them.  No one else in the group setting had a problem.

But the more important point here is that in my “whiteness” I always assumed that my culture background provided the standard way of talking, and that is completely false – it is part of cultural pride which no longer belongs today in its formerly dominant place.

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