First of all, let me preface this by saying that I have directed my discussion about racism in the direction of white people who are ignorant. Please know that “ignorance” is the only accurate word to describe what it is, it’s not intended to be used as a mean word. Let me be clear, white people are not the only ones who can be ignorant to racism, many black people are too.
White people are often times the target group because they do not face racism themselves, due to being the majority group, so they often do not see it and are privileged to not have to deal with it. If it doesn’t affect their lives, it must not be real, right?
But just because I do not see women being stoned to death, and I have never been sexually abused by men in my family, does not mean that those realities aren’t very real to people all over the world.
Secondly, lets get clear about the differences between racism, bigotry and prejudice.
“Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind their words and actions. A person of any racial group can be prejudiced towards a person of any other racial group. There is no power dynamic involved.
Bigotry is stronger than prejudice, a more severe mindset and often accompanied by discriminatory behavior. It’s arrogant and mean-spirited, but requires neither systems nor power to engage in.
Racism is the system that allows the racial group that’s already in power to retain power. Since arriving on U.S. soil white people have used their power to create preferential access to survival resources (housing, education, jobs, food, health, legal protection, etc.) for white people while simultaneously impeding people of color’s access to these same resources.Though “reverse racism” is a term I sometimes hear, it has never existed in America. White people are the only racial group to have ever established and retained power in the United States.” source here
I hope everyone has put the “reverse racism” term to bed. IT. DOES. NOT. EXIST. IN. AMERICA. However, if you want to claim that black people are prejudiced or bigoted toward white people, that could be a valid statement.
I don’t know about you, but I have definitely heard that white people can’t cook, or can’t dance, or smell like cats…..(random I know). I have heard black people hurl all sorts of assumptions, accusations, and hateful thoughts toward white people before having any understanding of the individual. This is wrong, but if you understand where it comes from you might be a little more willing to forgive them.
Some black people have been trained to hate white people for their entire lives.
If you think about the millennial generation, their grandparents were treated like dogs during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras (even attacked by police dogs *fact*), so their parents learned to hate white folks. Then their parents grew up and dealt with racial profiling, workplace and housing discrimination and tons of other negative experiences with white people and unfortunately this passed the baton on to their children (millennials).
I can only imagine how challenging it must have been to exhibit love towards a group of people that most often exhibited hate towards you. It is a cycle that only forgiveness can stop.
But, let me get back to why I began this discussion of racism, bigotry and prejudice in America.
You have probably heard about Lil’ Wayne’s interview on ABC’s Nightline, where he completely denounced attachment to the Black Lives Matter movement. He basically said it has nothing to do with him, and he is living proof that America does care about black lives. He is a black man who is very successful and many of his fans are white! That must mean that racism is over, right?
CUE: Black President = Racism Over, Right??
It would be easy to assume that racism no longer exists for that fact, but keep in mind that during President Obama’s presidential campaigns and terms, people still attacked him for the color of his skin, mocked and made fun of Michelle’s skin color and build (comparing her to a gorilla), called him Muslim (as if it were a bad word) because his father is from Kenya, claimed he couldn’t be American, demanded for him to release his birth certificate, and a slew of many other hurtful things that I’ve blocked out of my memory. Then, once the birth certificate was released, the rumor mill continued. People claimed it wasn’t real, and demanded more evidence to prove that he was, in fact, born in America and eligible for the Presidency.
What makes that racist, is the fact that those demands were never placed on any other white presidential candidate. But the moment a black man had a real possibility to become our nation’s leader, there were major problems. Also, notice that those demands were only initiated because, for the first time, a black man was going to be in a position of power over the entire country.
What were the accusations based on, and for what reason did Americans place those expectations on President Obama and not on other candidates?
The threat to power is the key indicator here, and we have seen that cycle repeat itself again and again throughout history.
Ever heard of Black Wall Street? Neither had I, until a few years ago. It is a largely untold and important story about a very successful black town in the 1920’s and how it was completely destroyed by a mob of white people. (read it here)
Black Wall Street holds relevance today, and has repeated itself. Just watch how a large portion of white America freaks out when black people reclaim their freedom, importance, and relevance in society (ex. Colin Kaepernick protest, Black Panther Party, establishment of BET, Black History Month, Black Lives Matter movement, Jesse Williams speech, Beyonce’s Formation etc.)
Lil’ Wayne’s belief that black lives are seen as equal in America, is just as ignorant as any white person who claims to not see color, or racism.
The only reason they are blind to it, is because they choose not to see it. No matter how legitimate the experiences of other black people, as long as they don’t live in that reality, in their eyes, it doesn’t exist at all.
You have a choice to make. Choose to open your eyes and recognize realities different from your own, or stay blind and complicit to the system.
Silence and ignorance are just as bad as violence, because it helps to maintain the status quo.
Want us to stop complaining about it? Then, its time you take this on as your mission too.
White people who are allies are my favorite kind because they have a special power, the attention and respect of other white people in positions of power.
It is our duty, (black, white, brown, yellow etc.) to ensure the safety of all people, not just those of the same race, class and/or other group.
And finally, never ever ever, listen to a man who tattoos his face. Why would you ever trust a person like that??