Most of us really don't understand that it is what we tell ourselves about our perceptions that is our reality, not the perception. For example, back in the last century (1973), my first job after college was working as a part-time pool teller for a state-wide bank. The "Central Division" primarily served the black community in the area bounded by Adams to Slauson on the north and south, and Sepulveda to Vermont on the east and west.
I spent probably more than a month at the Santa Barbara and Vermont branch, which was located just a couple of blocks from the L. A. Coliseum in Exposition Park. This is the picture you see in the encyclopedia for the entry "Predominantly Black Community". As usual, I showed up in suit and tie, carrying my briefcase. I parked my car, walked to the door, and knocked. I was admitted, and taken to meet the startling Charles, the Operation s Officer. He was a black man, about my size.
"Startling", because he sported a well-kept and moderately large Afro. He was also wearing a bright orange Dashiki, and had very well-done gold star implants on his two front teeth. Being the young, white-bread guy that I was, I wondered if I was going to get out of the neighborhood alive.That was start of what I told myself (the "conversation") when I walked in the door. The conversation continued with, "Well, I call in and leave, so I guess I'll just hang in. go to work, and see what happens.
What happened was, over the month or so I was there, I developed good working relationships with Charles, June, the assistant manager, and the other employees.. (I also met Mo, whom I worked with at the Culver City branch.) I even learned what I will call the then current "Black Bro Greeting (BBG)." My wife told me later that many of the white guests at the division Christmas party seemed shocked when I went over to Charles and Jue, and greeted them with the BBG. Bottom line, I had more fun in that branch than in any other, and made temporary friends there that I find myself missing as I write this.
The take-away... have that first conversation, whatever it may be, don't fight it, but don't hold on to it. Let it pass. That clears your brain so you can have the rest of the conversation, which in my case, now sounded like, "Well, that *may* be so, but lets step back and see who this person really is." I said on Twitter that getting over racism is easy. "All" you have to do is continue with the conversation that starts "Omygod, I'm gonna die!", and let yourself be open to what might actually be in front of you.
The greatest benefit of have that complete conversation with yourself is that you are more relaxed, and more apt to treat the person in front of you with respect and courtesy. I find this approach works for me with anyone, regardless of the appearance of the person in front of me, be they black, white, hispanic, gay. straight, other LGBPBJ or any other subset of the human race you care to define. I strongly suggest you try it sometime, and see what happens. Back in the day, we called it "Tricking your brain". It works. Or, what you feel depends on what you think.
That said, I present a flag, and a word, below the fold. (One guess each which flag and what word.) Have the complete conversation with yourself. Give it a try, and enjoy.
The word (wait for it)
Spike Lee's "Bamboozled".