As I suspected it might, the Ethics Alarms post challenging readers to propose the best and most ethical way to respond to a lawyer’ self-flagellating declaration that he was a racist and only recently realized it sparked several Comment of the Day-worthy responses. The first is from mermaidmary99, whose comments are almost always spammed by WordPress, including this one. I have no clue why. Here is mermaidmary99’s Comment of the Day on the post, “An Ethics Alarms Challenge: How Would You Respond To This?.”
Wow, thank you for sharing such a heartfelt and personal journey.
In reading your words, I can see you are deeply moved. I’m thankful for your awareness of your experiences.
What I’m not understanding is how what you shared makes you a racist. In fact, that you see there have been injustices to me would show the opposite.
Can you clarify how you specifically are racist? Do you believe Mexicans are lazy? Do you hold that native Americans were savages? That black people are lesser because of skin color? Have you deliberately treated others badly and wished them harm because of their race?
I’m not seeing that in your writing, but if so, then yes, you have acted with prejudice in the past and that’s wrong and good to become aware of.
It sounds more to me by what you’ve written that you’re not racist at all, but have seen that some of what you were thought is not only incorrect, but can cause us to treat others poorly if we hold such beliefs.
Again, I have not seen you act that way, and being raised as you have doesn’t mean you are a racist any more than being told all women are beneath men would make you a woman abuser.
Your conclusion isn’t making sense to me. Let’s continue on the woman analogy.
Women have been treated as inferior in society. They have been denied things purely because they are women. Additionally they have been objectified by men. Men have been taught many wrong things about women as well.
Would you conclude you are “sexist?” Or an abuser of women? Or God forbid if you have ever participated in locker room talk or even heard it, are you a rapist, or an abuser?
Because you recognize injustices passed along by your upbringing and what others believed doesn’t mean YOU endorse or embody those injustices.
I applaud you for the new awareness you have! Many don’t ever reach that point.
However, your conclusions seem illogical and misplaced. A true racist would never admit they were. In fact they would deny, defend, and justify.
I don’t see you in you, friend.
What I see is a person who is questioning their beliefs, and that I see as a good thing. Most don’t want to engage in that process, because often our identities are rooted in our beliefs.
But you are now claiming an identity when you never had those beliefs at all, at least from what I know of you!
If you have held them and no longer do, then it would be more accurate to say you are a former racist. And there are countless ways to start making amends. Especially with a lawyers salary, and lifestyle. You could begin today donating a large portion of your salary to help those you think you have stolen from. I would be happy to point you to some organization doing good work.
If you realize after all you’ve never believed those things and aren’t a racist after all, it still may do your soul good with your new awareness to connect with some people helping blacks and minorities… and heck, why not add women too?
My point is there are many awesome people doing great work advancing equality where it’s still imbalanced.
I’m proud of you for the honest look at your life’s experience. I’d just be cautious to label yourself as something and someone I’ve never known you to be.