|It can be tough living as part of a target group.|
That’s right, their own humanity. Yes, they’re also stripping people of color of their humanity too. But white people who engage in racist behavior also lose. Problem is, most don’t realize it.
They can’t fathom a system of oppression exists that is based on the color of a person’s skin. It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable because most refuse to accept how racism was firmly cemented into our social way of being through nation-founding documents. Unbelievable because it’s not happening to them.
The U.S. is my home and I love it. But just like in families, sometimes you gotta pull back the curtain and just tell it. Except most white folks don’t want to hear it. They’re afraid. Some of them. Too much to lose. Privilege, power. Worst of all, their reality as they’ve been conditioned to see it.
In the nation our Founding Fathers envisioned, people have to share. Not equally but equitably. However, the way our society is set up, sharing is a bad word. Which brings up another bad word, at least within the context of racism: system.
|Yes it is a big deal|
(For those unaware, a hanging noose carries significant torment in some communities of color. It is particularly so among African Americans, who were systematically lynched by the thousands throughout the 20th Century.)
Last month, up north at Connecticut College in New London, classes were cancelled. The controversy there was a posting of illicit images that bore heinous racist graffiti. The foreboding message stated, “No Nig*ers.”
Around the same time in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the campus of Bucknell University, three students spouted racist rhetoric on air. It involved a campus radio broadcast in which they spat racist comments. One used the N-word. Another proclaimed, “…black people should be dead.” The third said, “lynch ’em.”
Like the racist bus frat incident, responses from the various universities were swift and decisive. Campus presidents suspended, expelled or otherwise disciplined offending students. To those leaders and others, that was the end of it. But such punishment should have only been the beginning, if it should even happened at all.
Most believe punishing the racist behavior of a few ignorant students should be the focus. “Eliminate the behavior of the offensive people and the problem is solved.” If it was only that easy.
It’s sad but true: behind the behavior of the few individuals acting out is a larger, systematic issue: prevailing attitudes. Collective biases, conscious and unconscious, preserve and promote systems of inequity. And like an iceberg on the ocean, we only see the tip of an immense but largely invisible threat that plagues our nation.
|To quote Yoda, "You must unlearn what you have learned."|
If you want to dole out punishment, here’s an idea. Penalize our institutions by stripping them of racism. Education, finance, housing, courts, healthcare. Media. Churches. But do it in a systematic way, one that scrutinizes policies rather than people. One that savages inequitable practices as opposed to reprimanding individuals.
It hurts, but people of color can handle the random racist citizen; been doing it for centuries. What’s harder taking down the institutional racism that’s tearing us all apart, one human being at a time.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.