That Thing called Racism.
I never understand when people are shocked that blatant and overt racism is still a thing. It’s a privilege when you don't have to be aware of it. Granted, I have some privilege myself living in Los Angeles because I too was shocked recently by a situation of overt and blatant racism that happened nearly 20 minutes away from where I live. Eagle Rock? I thought... really? I was shocked it happened where it did, not by the fact that it happened. But it made me think.
None of this should be shocking at all anymore. Not the location, not the action and not the fake self-serving apology we all know will come within 24 hours of the person being caught.
Racism is not a thing of the past; it is very much a thing of the present and we need to start acting like it is.
When people say they can’t believe this stuff is still happening, my first question is: Why? Why can’t you believe that in 2019 someone would be so outward about his or her complete hatred for a different race of people? What about the trajectory of this country has led anyone to believe that racism has been completely dismantled? And my second question is: now, what are you going to do about it?
In order to fix something, we have to admit there is a problem. But the issue here is that so many people are in denial about the fact that racism still exists. So why are they afraid to admit it? Well, because no one wants to admit, accept or feel guilty about the dark past and unfortunate present of this country. Because in doing so they will probably have to admit the part they’ve played in allowing it to continue. So instead they ignore it because it’s comfortable.
I have a few tips on how we can start the work on breaking down racism. It’s going to be a long time before it actually happens but the sooner people are willing to take these steps, the closer we will get to making it a thing of the past.
1. Own up to your own implicit bias. Yes, this will be difficult but you have to do it. Acknowledge your privilege and admit that other races are and have been treated differently since the beginning of time. Remember, implicit bias does not mean that you yourself are racist; it simply means that you’ve been conditioned to think a certain way about a specific group of people. It influences how you respond to those around you. We all have it, but some more than others.
2. Surround yourself with people who don’t look or think like you. When people are only exposed to people who look and think like them there’s no way to have an accurate representation of other cultures and races. You are then left to relying on TV, film and the media to influence your perspective, and we all know how dangerous that can be. Form your own opinions. Make your own relationships. Realize that in our differences there are actually a lot of similarities.
3. Stop saying you are colorblind. When you say you are colorblind you are actually choosing to ignore a key component of someone’s identity. It doesn’t make you a better person to say you see no color. Colorblindness (or the fallacy of it) is actually a form of racism. It invalidates who someone is and feeds into a mindset that diversity isn’t a good thing. So stop saying it. See people’s color, celebrate their color, just don’t judge them for it.
4. Call out racist behavior when you see it. When you are silent you are complicit, plain and simple. You can’t be afraid to stand up for what is right. Don’t be silent. Speak up.
5. When people of color talk, listen. Don’t get defensive. Don’t have a response running through your head before the other person has finished speaking. Don’t assume that person is talking about you when he or she says “white people.” Simply listen. Validating another human's experience is crucial. And when you choose to move on from a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable, all it does is reinforce the problem. Listen.
There's no fool proof way on how to end racism. Racism is uncomfortable. It's messy. It's ugly. And it hurts. But talking about it is the only way we as individuals and a society can make progress.