The #SupportSystem for #Racism
The Mental Exhaustion of Racism in the US
As many of us are watching the USA's response to Charlottesville, VA, the media has begun to pick and choose what information becomes forgotten by the public. While we all get over saturated with White House quotes and contradictions, I have begun to enter into conversations that (up until recently) I have worked to avoid.
I have to wonder if the county's relationship with racism is such a shock to so many people because there are so many other things to "pay attention to." An article title reads "Unarmed Black Man shot by Police," but another entertainment publication has an over the top article about a celebrity; who is privileged enough to ignore one, and focus only on the other? Now is the time to consider how the situation has escalated this much, and no one seemed to notice.
From my perspective, the recent media and experts speaking about racism in the United States have been focusing on the "White Supremacists/ White Nationalists/Neo-Nazis, all basically Racists" that were marching together to "Unite the Right."
I will not use "titles" such as "White Nationalists" or even "Neo-Nazis" because both of those terms give an impression that these are groups that come together with a cause and no intent of harm, especially, white nationalists, until you look them up. For someone that doesn't know any better, they sound like a group of people that want to form an alternative political party, it doesn't sound very threatening. Same with "Neo-nazis," because, the Nazis out of Germany were dangerous and horribly inhumane in their purpose, but to refer to a group as "neo" gives the impression that maybe the group is more "modern" in their views and not as dangerous, but we all know that is not true.
To use a term such as "White supremacist" is also alarming and dangerous. The very term "supreme" speaks to superiority, and whether the argument is that this is a group or person that "Believes in their superiority" or "simply just is superior" allows for the very system of hierarchical racism to remain in place. To call these people superior only further reinforces their belief that they are above everyone else, and encourages their actions to support that belief. Which brings me to the purpose of this article.
The issue of racism in the United States isn't about the opinion(s) of the racists, or even focused on the racists at all, they are simply parts of a bigger system doing their job. Racism is about a system built on inequality that we all learn to participate in from kindergarten. As much as, culturally, we focus on people that have racist beliefs, the racist beliefs are all around us, and we interact with them daily, without knowing it or being fully willing to accept it. The government education that we are required to receive reinforces racism, through the scope by which history is taught, through the process of hiring and recruiting of staff, faculty, and administration, as well as through the way that teachers are trained to teach. All of these factors have a process of implementation that follow a standard put in place by a racially biased system.
Someone may be asking, "A racially biased system? How does that work?"
Our media in all of its forms has supported racism and oppression of groups that are not white. This has been done throughout the history of the United States by placing sub-systems and institutions that support giving privilege and validation to white people over brown people. This gets perpetuated over and over again over time, through opportunities being offered to white kids that become white adults, and kids that are not white experiencing personal bias from their educators and other adults. Over time these experiences mold and shape a child's relationship with the world around them.
As a country we need to look at the system and how it's feeding a perpetual belief, with strong consideration on how much issues like white privilege consistently disprove the constant narrative. When a mediocre white male is privileged, he can be violent or he can be disruptive and not labeled as a thug or non-contributing member of society. Look at James Alex Fields Jr. a white racist that felt so strongly about his beliefs being challenged that he decided to drive his car through peaceful protesters. He hasn't been labeled. The group that he was in the space supporting has been labeled, but him as an individual has not been called a "thug" or "menace." When a black male is given any privilege, he is seen as "extraordinary" and a "credit to his race." He is placed in a higher standard, but if he acts out or becomes too strongly influencing in a disruptive manner, all of his positive contributions are negated, and he loses any advantages that he was given prior. He also most likely will be labeled as a "thug" and invalidated as the person that he once was. Accepting racism is about recognizing that valuing white over black and brown is disruptive to the human experience and that needs to be dissected, disproven, and destroyed if we are going to work past it.
We have to act against the system, not the people. Placing boundaries where safety should not be violated or placed at risk. Not allowing racists to be given comfortable "everyday" titles that give them license to kill without expecting consequence (and in some areas without consequences). As people search for peaceful solutions, we also need to remember that peaceful responses to inequality often get turned into racist narratives that use terms like "over-reaching." That's why the events in Charlottesville were such a "shock." White infusionists have always been a part of history, and have always been willing to risk themselves and their comforts for the cause, but the right wing narratives that People of color and people on the left "are too sensitive," and "are never satisfied" have been validated through too many aspects of the culture. When "Black Lives Matter" became a cry for awareness, racism was subtly used by giving the movement an inappropriate spin. Some media outlets referred to it as a hate group. Many people insensitively placed an "only" onto the end of the "Black Lives Matter" statement, undermining centuries of black killings, and black oppression through misinterpreting the phrase, simply asking for acknowledgment.
Even if the natural response is to "eyeroll" at the absurdity of how insensitive some conservative news reporting is, acceptance of the subtle racism has been validated somewhere. The reality of this has shown its impact this very week. When people that have the privilege of not seeing racism, they have to re-think what they have been taught, told, and how they have been treated. The system needs to be held accountable, and the people need to hold the system accountable. However, that can't happen if the people continue to buy into the very lies that they think they are resisting.
To truly #resist in this movement, we have to learn what we don't know. I hope that as we all continue to grow more aware, that we also work to learn more about what we don't know.
You can read more here.