I was taking part in a course and the topic of race came up. During this part of discussion, the [White] lecturer told me that, "although it’s worse in America… they like to believe that racism doesn't exist in our town but it does". Although proof of this is clearly documented in local newspapers — it was all the confirmation I needed, to know that as a ‘minority’, it is not just a figment of my imagination, as many who have been called out for racist behavior will often purport.
While I like to tell myself that maybe some people may be just having bad days, may have no manners or may simply lack professionalism — I think maybe I’d be ignorant to believe that racism doesn’t exist. Mmmhmm, contrary to Lil Wayne’s recent public statement on this topic.
I believe that racism is universal [please understand that racism is in play beyond the USA]. Being Black British [born] with an American cultural background and going from living around predominantly Blacks to living around predominantly Whites. I can surely identify and explain racism beyond its surface as well as understand why some [not all] Whites — even some ‘minority’ groups — don't realize when they're exhibiting racist/prejudiced behavior.
There is overt racism, covert racism and institutional [systematic] racism. Although there are other forms of racism, they usually fall under the umbrella of the main three mentioned here.
I’m going to expound on institutional racism because institutional racism can fall under both overt and covert racism. This is for the reasons that many people are aware of institutional racism — but even more who are unaware of what, where or how it works and the ways it affects people like me.
I hear: ‘“pull up your pants”, “rid your victim mentality”, “get a college education”, “stay out of jail”, “build your community”, “get married and raise children in a two parent household” — this will solve many of your problems’.
I really wish it were this straightforward.
It has been said that ‘numbers do not lie’. It is 2016 and current stats — both in the UK and USA — confirm that racism, specifically institutional racism, is still quite prevalent [you can see this in many other countries as well]. These stats show and have always shown how 'minorities' are treated unfairly: charged higher interest rates, paid less, own much less, racially profiled, denied loans, fair opportunities of advancement, access to the best healthcare and education, are overworked, underrepresented and simply treated inferiorly — in comparison to their White counterparts.
In truth, because of this, there are many of us ‘minorities’ who sometimes feel subconsciously insecure when going to receive health care, contacting or trusting authorities, filling out ‘equality monitoring’ forms when applying for jobs, loans, sponsorship, grants and the like. There are many of us who feel defeated but bravely muster up the strength to bust our behinds in our persistent pursuit to get over meticulously placed invisible barriers: sacrificing, incurring student loan debt, attaining education and sometimes multiple degrees — still, only for job and advancement opportunities to be given to the preference of our White counterparts.
I believe that it is the lack of these opportunities — along with a lack of proper community programs, outlets, community funding [in economically deprived areas], mainstream empowerment and awareness — that contributes to the disheartening [maybe even exaggerated] poverty, crime, imprisonment, and sexually related statistics that [FOX] Bill O’Reilly is known to report.
I happened to see a short clip of the popular television show, Scandal, when Olivia's dad Rowan said to her, “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.” This is not just television — this is a reality, this is programming and further confirmation of the cold hard truth of what many ‘minorities’ like myself already know and have to face.
Imagery, words and language matter because they help shape perception [of reality] especially for those who do not question their news and media sources!
Further to the likes of FOX’s reporting, the mainstream media creates many exaggerated narratives of me and my people, as ‘minorities’, to others as being ‘lazy’, ‘uneducated’, uncouth, irrationally aggressive, welfare dependent, ‘babymamas’, ‘thugs’ and ‘niggas’ — perpetuating, promoting and glamorizing these lifestyles/slurs/stereotypes via rap, Hip Hop and pop culture. I mean for the most part, is it to subconsciously ‘condition’ the psyche and so, then justify being treated unjustly and shot down in the streets? Hmmm, something to make you think.
Additionally, in movies, it appears that we are for the most part are only honored when we are exploited, play roles as slaves, sassy ‘mammies’, partners of a ‘superior’ race, maids, butlers and or immoral characters. Unfortunately, I do believe that this depiction can affect how some people [including ‘minorities’] of other races view and treat us or expect us to be[have].
Afros? Cornrows? Locks? Cultural appropriation is fine but that’s as far as it goes. We as ‘minorities’ even must conform to Eurocentric beauty standards or identify with “exotic” [mixed] ethnicities to be either corporate, accepted, successful and or mainstream — for the most part.
Prominent Black figures such Naomi Campbell, Tyrese Gibson, Will and Jada Smith [the list can go on] have all spoken out for the need of equality, diversity and more positive opportunities. Even White anti-racist activists Tim Wise and Jane Eliott confirm and speak out about racism. We have fought, we have marched, we have protested, we have boycotted and have done everything we could to help ourselves but the problem still remains. Tokenism is not appeasing nor does it distract from the obvious truth. The illusion of inclusion is just that — an illusion.
The race controversy surrounding former NYPD officer Peter Liang, the 2016 Oscars [88th Academy Awards], and Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl Black empowerment performance is further confirmation of where we, where I, where my Black and ‘minority’ communities stand.
We only have to take a glimpse at history to see how Blacks have been treated and viewed. Racism is not an issue that only affects me or anyone else as an individual but Blacks as a whole.
None of us are born racist, being racist is a learned and indoctrinated behavior.
Many fail to understand and are even confused by not understanding racism beyond the surface. It’s more than being about slavery and not liking others because of the color of their skin. Racism is a multi-layered system still in effect today. In fact, I can see that racism, classism, elitism and capitalism are all intertwined.
Racism is a power structure/system — White v.s. Black — where Whites profit from systematically oppressing Blacks [as well as other minority groups but mainly the Black race] and blocking access to wealth building [economic opportunities] and the sustainment of wealth [economic opportunities].
Controversy sells. Topics on race are usually controversial and I feel as though these topics are used to drive ratings, revenue and perpetuate racial tension and division. Not really to change the system for the better and end racism but to have those at the bottom of the hierarchy fighting amongst each other and behaving in prejudiced manners — a distraction from the true, gloating system/policy makers and beneficiaries at the very, very top and often faceless/behind-the-scenes.
The only thing that appears to have changed, regarding racism, is the way it is carried out, as aforementioned. Today, it is less overt [in many situations and more so to uninformed individuals].
Where is the equality? All these years of public outcry for equality and prominent politicians have not yet put an end to racism? Perhaps is it because they do not have such power, although may talk like they do? Did [Black] President Barack Obama put an end to racism? Do votes really matter? Politicians carry out policies/agendas — but it appears that the [current] system always dictates, trumping all, period.
What does it mean to ‘divide and conquer’ and what are the benefits to this?
The poorly state of a people is only the reflection of an unjust system. Racism can only be truly eradicated at the very top and or from within the very core of our current system.
Or can it not?
Oprah Winfrey was criticized for saying: “Racists [Whites] must die for racism to end”. However, I remember reading an article by Kehinde Andrews. He mentioned that, “the truth is that no legislative change will end systematic discrimination… because racism is coded in to the DNA of the nation”.
Unfortunately, Oprah and others — it is apparent that this [the latter] is the unfortunate truth.
Christie? She couldn’t stop writing even if she wanted to! The voice for sassy girls with substance and edge! Christie is passionate about advocating for youth personal development and empowerment. Support, help improve, connect, or keep up with her writing projects here.