Google Immerse VR | Racial Identity: Exploring Race 360º VR Video

[light guitar music] [indistinct chatter] Dezzie: Had a very interesting
conversation with my daughter the other day about aliens. Aliens in movies
are depicted as– the people will come
and try to take what we have and try to destroy our planet. And I was telling her, like, “Do you think that
because they are different, they necessarily are bad?” Because that’s exactly
what it’s telling us. That’s what it’s telling
my little girl is that, “well, anyone different “that does not
speak my language, “that does not look like me is bad and has bad intent.” man: I think there was
some point growing up where I just
started realizing that the way I was experiencing
the world around me felt flat and that there was more going on than what I could see. And I think, maybe,
it would have been nice to just live in that flat
and shinier world where everything felt
a little fairer and made a little more sense. But as I learned more
and I could see more things around me,
that felt more alive. My whole life,
I’ve been told by the media, by the way people I look up to,
you know, when I was a kid, to be afraid of people of color, or to look down
on people of color, or to, you know, see them
as less than in some way. So it’s super important
to be in relationships that write over those old tapes. [light music] Daisy: People are uncomfortable
talking about race because we’ve never been taught
or equipped to talk about race. We start making excuses for it and we start socializing
our children that way, we speak about it that way, and we really need to take
the shame out of it and really have the difficult
and uncomfortable conversations about how race shows up for us
every day. Michelle: I think the first step
in understanding and becoming aware
of our racial difference is realizing that we’re all
coming from a common ground in that race is part
of all of our stories. Victor: We all see race. We all see difference. It’s whether or not you choose
to embrace it or ignore it. So what we want to do
is embrace that, and it might be scary, and it might be really, really
uncomfortable, but the journey is worthwhile. [acoustic guitar music] Dezzie: I identify mostly
as a French woman in her mid-thirties. I’ve always seen myself
as black. Funny enough, a lot of my
friends tell me things like, “But you’re not even
that black,” or “I don’t see you
as a black person. I don’t see your color,” which comes from a good place, but there is something really
problematic about that, ’cause, like, it’s as if they’re
saying “I don’t see you.” [bell dings] Clayton: Hey, kids.
Man: Darling! Man: Oh. Muah! Clayton: Come in.
Man: Thank you. Clayton: I grew up spending a lot of
time at my grandma’s house. You know, I had people
I love and cared about and I looked up to
did handicrafts. My first quilt was I had hundreds of rectangles
of silk that were tie scraps. And about that time,
I really started crushing on Ricky, who wound up
being my husband. And I don’t know what happened,
but I just thought, “I’m gonna make him a quilt, and that’s how I’m gonna seal
the deal with this fella.” Man: Yeah, somehow the magic– Clayton: So for a long time,
my queerness, my being a gay male
was very salient for me. I’ve been lucky to have folks
around me who have helped me see how salient whiteness
and maleness is for them. It’s like “Fight Club,” right? The first rule of whiteness is
you don’t talk about whiteness and you don’t talk about race. [indistinct chatter] Dezzie: It’s really–
it’s really hard to talk about because, like, the thing is
that when you talk about racial identity,
you have to talk about racism. I find this harder, actually, to deal with people who tell me
that racism is not a thing and racist people–I don’t even
deal with racist people. But people would tell me
that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that I’m exaggerating, that I’m too sensitive. That really, really
gets me angry. Like, the denial of my reality
is–makes me angry. Dezzie: I would say
it culminates, like, when the weather is humid and it shrinks. And people are like,
“Did you cut your hair?” No, it’s humidity. It’s just the way it is. Dezzie: That’s funny. Like, don’t look at me and say
that your hair is funny. It’s like actually
really offensive. It’s terrible. Woman: That’s also something
that I don’t understand. Just because it’s different, they think that
they can tell you and ask you whatever. I’m like,
I’m also a human being. I’m a person. I have feelings. Dezzie: Sometimes it’s not
necessarily directed at me. It’s just hearing the way
people talk about– or black people
or people of color. Actually, anyone different. Hearing things like,
“Gay people are like this,” or “Asian people are like that.” It’s this idea that–
being in a box already is hard, and it’s a terrible box
you put people into. My mom and I,
when we moved here, we were the only
people of color, so the kids just–
they just didn’t know. They are just never– they have never seen
people like us, so they wouldn’t play with me at
the very beginning when I moved, so I was like four years old,
and– I don’t know. I had this sense of,
like, nonbelonging. Just not–
just not fitting. There’s a few times, like,
people approach me and, like, touch my skin
and look at their hands as if it was going to come off. Like, they had–they had never
seen black people before. Usually when I tell this story,
people are like, “Well, but they were just kids and there’s nothing wrong
with that.” But for me,
I was a kid too. Clayton: One day in the–
in the cafeteria, I remember the teacher
looked around and said, “Look who’s missing
from the room today.” And we all knew
who they were talking about. The teachers called them
the city buses, but they were the buses
with black and brown kids from the city. And she said, you know, “Shame on them for being late.” And of course, these kids
don’t have any control over when the buses get here
in the morning, but there were all these
messages about, you know, the city buses–the kids that
come in on the city buses, they’re different than you. My second grade,
all my friends were girls. The boys were rowdy and rough and the girls were sweet
and fun, so we’d hang out. And one day on the playground, I kissed this girl, and we knew
we were doing something we probably shouldn’t do. We knew we’d get in trouble,
and we did. We went to
the principal’s office and I was shocked
by the message, though. It wasn’t that I got in trouble
for kissing a girl. The message was “why are you
kissing that black girl?” But by the time
I got to high school, I mean, just me existing
in the world already broke
so many of the social rules that I had been being told
that I pretty much questioned any of them. I didn’t know why.
There was some sense that, you know, my black peers and I
had some shared experiences– that we had both experienced
kind of the otherness of the world, being othered or being– yeah, being put upon
in some similar ways, but there was also a sense that our experiences
were very different. Dezzie: I’m still worried
about not fitting. That’s–
I think that’s my main worry. I’m still worried
about being rejected and– you know, like, professionally
or anywhere I go, if I try to make new friends, I just still feel like, either I’m not
going to be accepted, or I’m going to be look at
as some curiosity. I think the way it reflects,
as well, in my adult life is– for some reason, I sort of
transpose that to my daughter. I–there is nothing
that scares me more than the idea
of her being rejected by others. And she’s not.
She’s like–she’s flying, but– [sighs] The–the idea
that people could hurt her the way I was hurt is just– as a mom,
I just can’t accept that. [light music] I’ve always had these signs of, like, just not fitting
and not belonging. And I don’t think
I ever realized that this was linked
to my racial identity, and knowing that now,
like, it makes total sense. Like, it actually makes sense
if I look at it. I think that what’s different
for me– I don’t have a lot
of assumptions on people and things. I tend to question a lot, and that’s, like, really part
of, actually, what I do as a UX designer is that you don’t operate
based on assumption. You have to understand people– that biases will prevent you
from understanding what they need. Clayton: I found myself in
a community of individuals who led adult learning
for racial justice work, and part of our practice was
exploring our own stories. And at the time,
part of my story was seeing the black boys in high school
as particularly dangerous. I was very lucky, though,
to have a community around me that really pushed me on that. Through digging, I realized
that that narrative was, you know, added on. It was–it was about
the messages I got around me, and there were not actual
experiences connected to it. This is where we’re gonna focus
our time and energy today. And this is about our skill,
this is about our practice. And you can see less of us
in this room agree that we know what to do
after we step in it, right? If we do something biased, we say something that’s sexist
or racist, few of us know what do we do
after it happens. ‘Cause it will happen, right?
And then– Initially, whiteness just meant
don’t be black. And later probably meant
don’t be a person of color or don’t associate with them. You know, later, I think I started understanding how
whiteness afforded me some protections that others didn’t have, some opportunities
others didn’t have, and that made me feel bad. It made me feel ashamed
or guilty. After that, I think, whiteness meant
having some responsibility to do something. And also just always making sure
that in 30 years people aren’t sitting here,
having to make a movie about racism, right. That would be
a real crying shame. Dezzie: I can’t say
that I’ve changed, but something is definitely
shifting. I was sitting in the car
and driving through Paris and I was looking up
at the bus next to us, and it was this black girl
looking out the window, and we sort of, like,
look at each other and smile and that’s–
that’s what happens now, but when I was younger,
that never happened. I would have looked away. Since I’ve started this journey, it’s helped me, like, find
things that I like about myself, help me being proud
of my culture. It’s helped me reconnect with,
yeah, part of me that I sort of totally ignored
for so long. It’s helped me, like,
just look at thing, like, from my perspective and not as someone
trying to be someone else. Daisy: Launching into
a conversation about race can be really uncomfortable, but sometimes we just have to
make it simple. And sometimes really
just ask questions about who you are
as a human being. Victor: How would you describe
your identity? Elizabeth: What’s the first time you realized
that you had a race? Michelle: When you hear the word
“race,” what comes to mind? Is it an experience, or is it just a concept? Laura: So as you think about going on this journey
for yourself, what does that mean to you? What does identity mean to you? [light music]

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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