Oh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here.

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I was in one of my classes today and the instructor asked the question, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWhat do we notice first about a person?¢‚Ǩ¬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?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùand simultaneously?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùthe class, that perhaps we don?¢‚Ǩ‚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?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùwho happens to be white?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùoffered a different opinion, arguing that he would notice it. When I asked him, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìSo if you went into a room with all white people, you would think to yourself, ?¢‚ǨÀúOh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢?¢‚Ǩ¬ù, he responded with a resounding ?¢‚Ǩ?ìyes?¢‚Ǩ¬ù. Odd.

I?¢‚Ǩ‚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?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùas far as I can recall?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùhave ever thought to myself, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìOh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

On the other hand, I also suggested to the class that someone would only notice race if:

  1. Everyone in the room is a different colour than the person entering the room
  2. 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, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYou certainly wouldn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t see this in Lethbridge?¢‚Ǩ¬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?¢‚Ǩ‚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.

6 thoughts on “Oh, my. There sure are a lot of white people in here.

  1. The world is so full of random information your mind in order to function must eliminate most of it. So the typical person will only “notice” things that are unique, out of place, or unexpected; otherwise it all goes down the drain. So being a white male of forty I would notice straight away if I walked into a room where everyone is a different colour, or they were all women, or if everyone was wearing formal black tie and I wasn’t. Then again if none of that was unexpected (like all women at a women’s health forum) it wouldn’t jump out to me. So I would guess your classmate was more interested in sounding politically correct to his peers rather than being honest. That is also pretty common. But just maybe his life prior to that day it would have been extremely unusual to walk into a room full of white people (but I doubt it).

    But this post caught my eye for a different reason. I live in very white southern Minnesota, and we have a very small EQ (usually 5 of us). Two Sundays ago we had a lot of guest and investigators so our numbers swelled to 16. I was leading the meeting and after I went through announcements I asked one of our regulars about his son who just entered the mission field that week (had left the MTC). He started talking about his experiences in Texas when he made the following comment. “He said he was in a massive apartment complex and that he had never seen as many black people his entire life.” Sitting right next to this guy was a investigator – a very black investigator from Africa. I guess he had walked into the room and never even noticed. Awkward silences aside, I sure his son’s comment was correct – he probably hasn’t ever seen that many black people before.

  2. I’m not sure I understand. What was the faux pas? Was it the use of the term ‘black’, or was it his admission of not knowing many black people?

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