Matt's recent post got me to thinking about race, racism, racial fear, and racial tolerance.
First, Ive noticed the same phenomenon he has. I feel none of the uneasiness I sometimes felt in America. I readily walk into "low income" housing areas populated by people of races other than mine. No one hassles me. I feel comfortable. In fact, except at reflective moments like this.. I dont even think about it.
But as I contemplate this issue I come to the conclusion that much of the fear in America is completely unfounded. I used to feel afraid of being in a (so called) low income black neighborhood. Why? Because Id been fed a steady diet of cop shows and media horror stories about black neighborhoods. I was sure theyd yell at me.. or maybe pull out a gun.
When I became a social worker I often went into these neighborhoods... and I discovered that the stereotypes were a crude joke. No one pulled a gun, or threatened me.
This reminds me of the scene in Bowling For Columbine... where Moore and Glazer visit southside LA... supposedly a super-dangerous place. They are perfectly fine. No one hassles them.
Wealthy White America is bred with fear. They are propagandized to keep them docile and obedient. They fear African-Americans. They fear muslims. They fear latinos. They distrust Asians. They cant tell a Sikh from a Muslim from a Hindu. Hell, they fear other white people who aren't as wealthy as they are.
As a social worker I worked with many so called at risk or troubled people of different races. These people always treated me with dignity and respect. And I them. I didnt fear them and they didnt seem to resent me.
But I saw many such "clients" get hostile with arrogant, condescending, and pushy staff members. Respect and dignity, rather than race, seemed to be the most important factors.
So while Matt is right about the greater racial tolerance in SE Asia... we should realize that most of the fear in America is unfounded and artificially generated.
White people need to loosen up and realize there are no brown hordes (inside or outside the country) plotting to attack them.