Daisy at the CS Monitor: On the Road, Asking the Hard Questions about Race

By Julianne Hing Aug 03, 2009

Earlier last week the Christian Science Monitor asked Daisy if she’d share an experience from her own life that challenged her to assess her views on race. Check it out here:

The Courage to Ask Tough Questions Last year, I was invited to talk at a college in western Pennsylvania about immigration. During the Q&A, a young white college student asked why immigrants don’t learn English. "It’s about respect," she said. "If I were visiting another country, I would learn their language." I pointed out that immigrants aren’t visiting. She would be a tourist elsewhere, whereas most immigrants are forced here as economic refugees. She countered that she knew a couple who was learning English. If they can do it, her reasoning went, so could others. Not everyone has the same ability or access, I said. But she didn’t seem moved. To my surprise, though, the student sought me out afterward. She came from a conservative family, she explained, the kind of people who have never left their small hometown. But here she was in college, babysitting for an immigrant family and even thinking of traveling abroad. In particular, she wanted me to know that her father was very conservative and these ideas I had presented were new for her.

I realized then that she wasn’t just asking questions about immigration. She was questioning all she had grown up hearing about race. She was even beginning to doubt the most powerful figure in her life: her father. And I felt hopeful. It didn’t mark the end of racial profiling, or racial disparities in healthcare, but it felt powerful to me that this young white woman was asking the hard questions. It reminded me that I, too, had left my conservative Latino father’s house to see the world for myself and pose a number of my own questions. I get so caught up in the fantasy that social change happens in one single swoop (the election of a black president, my winning a debate), but real understanding is more likely to come from being honest about where we are, entertaining new questions, and, of course, listening.

Check out the other contributions over at the Christian Science Monitor.