This is something I get asked a lot. For all the crap that’s going on in my part of the world, race issues aren’t one of them since basically only one race lives here. Also, due to the way things are constructed, people are more concerned about someone’s ethnicity than race. Plus, we are white. Racial issues are of no immediate concern to me. So, why do I bother? It has nothing to do with me.
It would be nice to say something like: “I am interested because this issue is something that should concern all people”, which is partly true, but it’s not the complete answer.
The thing is, it does have a lot to do with me, though in an indirect way. But since some things are too close to home to think about them straight, it’s good to think about stuff such as privilege, oppression, collective identities and various mechanisms that guide human actions through a different way they manifest themselves.
I guess this is what makes the race discussion so familiar for me even if it doesn’t have much to do with my own culture. This is what I found interesting: with all the unfamiliar stuff there were always things that I was familiar with.
It also helped me in other ways. It made me understand America (= USA) better, for good or the bad, since my previous experience was either through Hollywood, my culture’s views on it or its views on my culture. None of it speaks much about America the way it is.
Plus – and let’s not forget about it – I’ve met many great people through these websites.
That being said, I am not active on the “race” websites anymore. I guess that I got too involved at one point, and when I get involved in any sort of a political issue, I usually run away. When I start feeling it concerns me, I stop discussing it and writing about it. This is the main reason I don’t write about Balkans or my experience with it. I guess it’s too personal. So maybe that’s the reason I’m not that involved with the race discussion websites anymore? Or maybe it’s because most of my friends left?
In any case, that doesn’t change my motives for dealing with this issue.