I had one of those humbling moments today: humbling not next to someone's strength of character, but because of the flaws in mine.
I know that it's wrong to be racist. It's wrong to avoid people because of different customs, and it's wrong to worry about someone else's skin color. But, I got an email from my instructor, who's name is Hideki*. I looked at his name, a name I could not pronounce, and the first thought that ran through my head was "I hope he can speak clear English".
There was immediately a feeling of shame. I went "I can't believe I thought that! I've never even met him, he might even be a she for all I know about non-western names. S/he might have lived in the United States for all her/his life and the only accent s/he has is a midwest one. Or, if s/he is from outside the US, they might speak better than you do".
So I call him up (it does turn out to be a him). And he has an accent, and it sounds Japanese (again, I'm not good with non-western). So the evil part of my brain comes up again with "You have a perfectly legitimate concern if you can't understand your instructor. 102 will be one of THE defining classes of your aviation career...you have to be comfortable with your instructor".
The other part jumps up "That's BS and you know it. You talked to him once on your cell phone: his accent isn't all that bad and probably the problem was with your phone. Step outside your comfort zone a little bit: you haven't been exposed to people of other races in a nuetral envirnment. You haven't even been exposed to many people of different races AT ALL, especially not Asian. Besides, how would you feel if a female pilot instructor didn't get any students because she was "incomprehensible"?"
Evil part: "You're going to say something stupid, and look like not only a newbie pilot, but a racist newbie pilot, switch fast"
AHHGG!! I KNOW this is not a minority's problem. My own shortcomings are my own faults. But it's just frustrating when not even knowing where to start when it comes to fixing your own internalized racism.