The Race-ometer

Unlearning Racism Adventure #2

I’ve got a pedometer. My HMO encourages healthy habits and preventative care. One of their programs is “10,000 steps.” You get a pedometer and try to take 10,000 steps every day. (I can’t do that while on the internet, but FlyLady has figured out how to.)

So I got a pedometer and just put it in my pocket. I took it out and looked at how many steps I’d walked every day. There was an attitude change. I started wanting to get that number higher. I quit whining when my airplane was at the farthest gate–now it was a chance to get a few more steps in before being locked in a metal tube. I started taking more than one walk a day sometimes. Just measuring changed my behaviour–an example of the observer effect. Yay! Science in action!

Can scientific measurement help me overcome my personal racism?

I’m going to start by keeping track of how many people of color are at the events that I attend.The comedian¬† W. Kamau Bell reminded me that if everyone around me is white, that’s white privilege. In Oakland, California, about a third of the people are white, a third black or African-American, and a third are every other category. In addition, about a quarter are Hispanic or Latino.

The Race-ometer:

W/B/O = 33/33/33

White/Black/Other = 33/33/33

That’s the goal. Ten thousand steps and only one-third white people. I start by observing where I am. The “other” category is to help me break out of the White/Black binary thinking I usually do.

So, where was I yesterday? PEERS River City, Iowa, Picnic Dance of 1912 = W/B/O = 150/6/11. This surprised me a lot. I was expecting 150/0/0. (I estimated the number of white people. I may have double-counted or missed a few of the non-white people. Still, it’s a start.) Later, dinner with friends W/B/O = 4/0/0.

I’ve realized that to get the race-ometer numbers to average 3/3/3 means that I will sometimes be in situations where whites are in the minority, which will be uncomfortable for me. Do you think that’s why Biden was invited to sit down with Gates, Crowley and Obama?


One Response to “The Race-ometer”

  1. Isa Says:

    I had that same thought watching the news clips of the Beer Summit. I also noticed that Barac and Joe had taken their jackets off and the others kept theirs on.
    Whatever the reason though I think it was an excellent start to a very long overdue dialogue.

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