'Wringing' Out Personal Bias Is A Daily Exercise
by LINDA WERTHEIMER
July 20, 2013 7:39 AM
President Obama, in his speech on Friday, said that all of us should do some soul searching. Not a conversation on race organized by politicians, he said. He suggested smaller and more personal places for those conversations — families, churches and workplaces — and he suggested a conversation that each person could have with him or herself: "Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?"
I think that's an important question, or perhaps more of a process, and not an easy one. Like most people who grew to adulthood in the civil rights years, I thought a lot about racism and believed it to be hateful. I admired the heroes of the civil rights movement — it has always been a point of pride with me to remember that I was on the Mall for the March on Washington. It did not occur to me to think of myself as a racist — I believed and still believe that I was not.
But when I married and moved to Washington, to live in a city that was mostly black, I surprised myself. Every once in a while a random thought would drift into my mind — what is he doing here? Where did she get that dog? Small, mingey * terrible little thoughts, which when I turned them over and looked at them, horrified me. I thought that I'd been giving myself too much credit.
Obviously I needed some wringing out.
One of the blessings of our fair city, which can be completely exasperating, filled as it is with argument and ego, is that it also offers its citizens the blessing of living together, in a relatively tolerant atmosphere. Here, wringing bias out of your mind and heart is not theoretical. And that has made it easier. Of course I am not perfect even after all these years. But to paraphrase the president, perhaps a little more perfect.
* Okay, I do have a comment on Linda's apparently canine-related use of the obscure term "mingey," which follows the also opaque "Where did she get that dog?"
nip, pinch, bite (of bird); nipping, biting, pinching.
So, maybe Linda had a nipping, biting, perhaps mangy dog? And then it got stolen and now every time she sees a black woman with the same expensive breed, she wonders if the black lady bought it from a stolen dog fence?
Mean and stingy: "you've been mingy with the sunscreen".
Unexpectedly or undesirably small.
stingy - niggardly - miserly - mean - skimpy
Linda Wertheimer lives in Northwest DC — the nice part. Her Zip Code is XXXXX, which comes in as SuperZip #67 in Charles Murray's ranking of Zip Codes (data here). Median family income is $175,000; people there rank above 99.6% of their fellow Americans by Murray's centile score. George Zimmerman's gated community (or crime-ridden condo complex, if you prefer) is in Zip YYYYY, which Murray ranks in position 12,435 (of 23,948 total). Median family income is $53,400, and 32.8% of Americans live in Zips with worse centile scores. Trayvon Martin's mother lives in Miami Gardens, whose ZZZZZ Zip sits at #15,776. Family income $52,600, centile score 22.1%.