I was in one of my classes today and the instructor asked the question, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìWhat do we notice first about a person?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. Typical responses were things like eyes, gender, posture, etc. One suggestion that caught my attention was race.
I offered the counter to the teacher?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùand simultaneously?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùthe class, that perhaps we don?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t always notice race first. My line of thinking was that if a white person, who lives in a predominately white society, walks into a room with only white people, will he or she notice that everyone is white? I suggested that the individual would not.
A fellow student?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùwho happens to be white?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùoffered a different opinion, arguing that he would notice it. When I asked him, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìSo if you went into a room with all white people, you would think to yourself, ?¢‚Ç¨ÀúOh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, he responded with a resounding ?¢‚Ç¨?ìyes?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. Odd.
I?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ve lived in a predominantly white society for a few decades and upon walking into a room full of white persons, I never once?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùas far as I can recall?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùhave ever thought to myself, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìOh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here?¢‚Ç¨¬ù.
On the other hand, I also suggested to the class that someone would only notice race if:
- Everyone in the room is a different colour than the person entering the room
- One or two individuals in the room are a different colour than everyone else in the room.
Admittedly, when going back to Vancouver for Christmas, it was interesting to be back in a society that had Indians, Pakistanis, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth. Lethbridge is a little uneven on the white side when it comes to the multicultural spectrum. Spending as much time as we have in Lethbridge made our multicultural experience in Vancouver that much more noticeable. In fact, I even turned to Mary and suggested, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìYou certainly wouldn?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t see this in Lethbridge?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. Yet, when we lived in Vancouver, it was something we took for granted and that we rarely, if ever, noticed.
Suffice it to say, I don?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t think race is absolutely one of the first things we notice in a person upon seeing her or him for the first time.