RACISM 101

Hi everyone.

Jumping into Jack Bauer!year with a bang.

Let’s talk racism.

As I’ve stated in involuntarySASS’s about page -- my perceptions and life experiences are shaping the content that I am providing for all of you.

I’m black. I’m a woman. (we’ll talk about intersectionality later!)

I’m a lot of other things, but those two traits …are something that I live with every day, and they aren’t characteristics I can hide or shy away from.

racism 101

 

Since this is my first real delve into a nitty gritty topic, I want to provide a bit of a primer, and set of definitions to help you in the future—both while reading posts that follow this one, and for when you may engage in dialogue that is related to race.

I’m going to try and go over these definitions without anyone getting defensive, because that’s the last thing I want. However, if you find yourself getting defensive about anything you read here… ask yourself why.

There’s probably a compelling reason.

OKAY SO.

This is very complicated subject. We’ll start slow.

A big misconception about racism is that people think that it’s comprised of conscious hate and that’s all.

That’s absolutely not true.

If you open a dictionary—the definition that typically falls under “racism” is something like “disliking a group or type of person based on the characteristics they have that cause beliefs of inferiority or a “lesser” status.”

And I’m sure you’re familiar with that definition.  

Guess what? Racism is a lot more complicated than that.

Racism is systemic. Racism is institutional.

Racism is NOT believing that you are better than another for some xyz reason.

That’s actually prejudice.

So then, what is racism?

Racism is:

Prejudice plus POWER.

I’m not talking about electricity, I’m talking about influence, status, and authority.

prejudice plus power

 

In the United States, (racial policies and dynamics are specific by country. That’s what I’m discussing here today.)  laws and other norms throughout our society have been created by one group (white people) in order to contain these prejudices onto another, differing group.

THINGS LIKE:

·          Slavery

·          Wage Gaps

·          White Flight

·          Workplace and employment discrimination

·          Police brutality

·          Entertainment reinforcing stereotypes

·          Voting Laws

The above are just a few examples of how people of color (particularly Native and Black people) have been perpetuated into remaining in an oppressive state OVERALL.

There are many other definitions and concepts that make up this giant tangled web.

For example, “white privilege.”

White people benefit from these structures simply for existing in it. Of course, a person didn’t choose this, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a type of benefit for them.

@@You may not hate someone for the color of their skin. But you still benefit from the systems that have been set up.@@

Yes, I know – there isn’t anyone alive that has slaves anymore (in the US) or they had no one in their households or family tree use racial slurs and you are trying to be nice to everyone because that’s what good people do.

Remember – that’s not what racism is.

I am not saying that as a white person, you or someone you know did not grow up with everything handed to them, or that they were raised in a less than ideal home.

Being privileged does not mean that someone had an easy life. That is not how privilege is defined in this particular instance.

So before you throw up a stop sign and start dismissing these words, please take note:

This is a matter of perspective. This is what privilege means in the conversation about race.

The thing about privilege is that it can make someone blind to struggles that they were not aware of.

If someone is being mean to you because you’re white, then they’re being a jerk. However, they aren’t a racist jerk because society isn’t allowing them to be mean to you, because of your whiteness.

privilege

 

If a person of color is prejudiced toward a white person—that instance isn’t hurting your overall quality of life, and efforts to thrive in society because of your skin color.

The reciprocal can be true, because of the examples I listed above.

Prejudice exists in all of us—however, for racism to exist – those power structures have to be a component.

The main issue about racism is how these laws and ideals from the past are still inflicting damage on people today.  Racism illustrates how laws and ideals have cemented a structure that is part of the nation’s history.

I have a lot of resources that you may find interesting, but one of the most compelling things I have seen is Dr. Jane Elliot’s Blue Eye experiment. Watch it.

We’ll process this and move on in the future. There is so much to cover, and I’m excited to go through it with you all. Let me know if this makes sense!

Stay sassy,

i.

PS: please, don’t try to use me or any other person of color as an excuse for racist behavior or words.

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