Paper cuts

papercut“No, where are you really from?” – a simple question but 6 words which can hurt. Some insensitive and ethnocentric questions can produce deep, long-lasting wounds, others may be the equivalent of a paper cut – a sharp pain that goes away fairly quickly with no permanent damage. This metaphor was used in by Michele Norris in a story on NPR about the Racecard project: 6 word statements about race that are being collected. The comment on NPR: ” On paper it looks like a straightforward expression of curiosity or perhaps a social icebreaker. But dozens of people have said that their heart breaks a little when they hear that inquiry. ”

Some sample “racecards” collected:

Ask who I am, not what.
Reason I ended a sweet relationship.
She’s nothing but poor white trash.
Grandma sent $100 when we broke up.
No English.Standardized assessment. No chance.
Angry black men are so scary.
Not all Mexicans can do landscaping
Indian? At least he isn’t black!
“You’re 16, Mexican and not pregnant?”
Wait…so you’re not really black?
You see me as I’m NOT!
Hyphenating myself – how to prioritize culture?

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