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Written by: Sevgi Fernandez
It is a luxury to walk through life not having to constantly be aware of your race. As a mixed woman, racial labels have followed me wherever I’ve gone, and I’m keenly aware that the darker a person’s skin, the more this statement is true.
“I am Colorblind” or “I don’t see color”, are statements many of you have either heard or have said yourselves. I truly believe the only people who can “choose” to be colorblind, are whites. It is a luxury not to have to think about race. In a workshop I held last fall, we watched the documentary, A Conversation with White People on Race. Some of the statements, although simple, were profound. For example, a thirty something white man said, “I don’t think about being white, I just don’t.” This was followed by a middle aged white woman who said, “I really did not know I had a racial identity. I had no idea what that meant, how that shaped my outlook on life, my sense of optimism, sense of belonging, sense of safety.”
Now, I can all but guarantee that every single black person on this earth, knows they are black and is reminded of that fact each and every day. I think black people are very aware of our racial identity, and we are aware of how our racial identity dictates how safe we are, what type of education we can get, what type of healthcare we receive and what types of jobs we can attain. Race is of course not the only factor in any one of these, but it’s often the deciding factor.
Racism is a social construct developed to oppress. It has evolved over the centuries, but in essence, the process of labeling and stereotyping a person based on the color of their skin to keep them subservient to the dominant white race, has stayed the same. I’m going to share a pivotal event in my childhood that truly awakened me to the fact that the world saw me in the context of “race” not “person”.
Standing in line at school, the red faced white boy in front of me asked,“What are you?’
“Im half black, half white.” I said, feeling a little uncomfortable. The boy then scathingly stated,
“Well at least I can respect HALF of you,”And he turned to laugh with his friends. At that moment I felt a myriad of emotions jumping rapidly from one to another, shame, embarrassment, humiliation and when I landed on rage, my 12 year old fist connected with his 16 year old face. I’m not sure who was more shocked!
I share this as a way of illustrating that even as children we are shown we are different, we are less than. That certainly wasn’t the first time I became aware that my race, my skin color, played a part in how people would treat me, and still to this day, as a 43 year old soldier in the war on racism, I know that the future holds much more of the same.
We run every person through a set of implicit and explicit biases that we have developed over time. Implicit and explicit biases have been part of history since our inception. We are seeing the implications of these biases throughout the world and here in the United States. It seems to me that as we make more strides in this country towards tolerance, inclusion and equality for all i.e. electing our first Black President and legalizing same sex marriage, we become more divided as a society as race and racism become more prominent.
The effects of this systematic racism are apparent in the African American community across the country, wherever you look. It’s in the hopelessness of our youth, in the violence within our communities, and at the hands of the police. It’s in the educational system that is set up to fail our children and the healthcare system that is either unattainable or so discriminatory many fear ever seeking out the care they so desperately need. Rather than educating and nourishing the minds of our young people of color, the system is feeding the school to prison pipeline. So it is unlikely that you will come across a black person who says they are “colorblind”.
Black people have been systematically oppressed, discriminated against and brutalized simply because of their race since they were brought to this country as slaves. The system was set up to deny what should be our human rights, and that system is still at play today. We as people of color certainly believe All Lives Matter, yet All people haven’t had the daily struggles faced by blacks in this country. All people aren’t being shot, hung and choked to death by police. These are facts that cannot be denied. The reality is that our lives truly don’t matter outside of our own communities for the most part, and as we internalize the racism and oppression, they begin to matter less and less to us.
I do believe there are a great owing number of whites who are concerned about this racial divide and equality for people of color. I see more whites challenging themselves and asking the hard questions regarding their white privilege and implicit biases everyday. I think the movement from the black community over the past year specifically, has garnered much needed attention in mainstream and social media. This has enabled our messages related to the extreme state of racism and inequality in this country to reach whites whom otherwise would have continued on unaware. I am seeing more and more whites participating in protests and dialogues on the issues and I work along side many whom I respect deeply for their courage, commitment and humility, their ability to ask questions, to be wrong, to learn. It is quite exhilarating and gives me great hope. So although our country is arguably as polarized as it was 60 years ago or some may even say, 400 years ago, today a revolution is underway. Today people, be they black, white, yellow, red, brown or all of the above, are coming together as one, to challenge the machine that is Institutionalized racism. Each day that a step is taken together, a brick in the foundation of white supremacy that this country was built upon is removed.Until we can all have the luxury of being colorblind, because the day has come when in fact, All Lives Do Matter, and they matter Equally, the statement and movement Black Lives Matter is relevant and necessary.
Civil War! We’ve been in one! Race war! It’s been here! We are going to all have to engage in this fight in order for it to end. It WILL get worse before it gets better. They are fearful, they know they have already lost and they will do anything to hold on. The United States is no longer a nation that will be run by the racist white elite. The civil rights movement began what our revolution will finish! We cannot do it divided. We must come together, it can’t just be about individual communities. Natives, Muslims, Immigrants, Blacks, Asians, Christians, LGBTQs, we are all one community that must unite against the hate and oppression. We must garner our power and hold each other up through this most important battle. Losing IS NOT AN OPTION!#TogetherWeStand
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Most of us don’t have to imagine a world in which police are the good guys. Our parents taught us to go to them when we were lost or in trouble. We’ve read thousands of books in which they’re the heroes who save the day. We’ve watched them stop the bad guys on countless TV shows. Our lives may have gone in countless other directions since, but many of us once wanted to be them.
For you and I, police are little more than quiet background noise. They’re the ones who come when we need them. Maybe they pull us over every now and again because we got a little overzealous with the gas pedal or have a busted taillight. 85% of the time we even agree that we should have been pulled over. On those rare occasions that we’ve dealt with them, they’ve largely treated us with dignity, respect, and kindness. For the most part, they’ve done nothing at all to dissuade us from our long-standing belief that they’re the good guys we’ve come to expect them to be.
Now I want you to imagine a world where that’s not always true. Where your parents have told you to be wary of, or to altogether avoid the police. A world where you’re surrounded by cops that don’t look like you. It is a place where people you know and love have been beaten or killed by them. Where your communities aren’t always safe, but you can’t even be sure if it would be more perilous to pick up the phone and call for help. Imagine a life where the sound of gunshots just down the street is perceived to be less dangerous than the sound of sirens on the very same block.
Stay there for a minute. Live there. Look out your safe, imaginary window at that place. Think about your kids in that world.
Here, you’re 30% more likely to get pulled over than people with a different skin tone. If you are pulled over, you’re at least twice as likely to be searched. Here, you’re six times more likely to be thrown in jail. And God forbid shit goes down, because you’re then more than twice as likely to be killed by police. Tack on still another 30% if you’re unarmed. You’re also sentenced to death at a rate more than three times your population density. And even if you were still alive to complain about it, you’d find that police would be indicted less than 1% of the time.
That is the world you live in.
Now, come back.
Unless we’ve gone there, lived that experience, it’s difficult to conceive of our police as anything but our protectors. The good guys. Our heroes. We therefore find it very hard to reconcile our own experiences with the idea that they might not always be right. That they’re human. That they make mistakes. That they’d ever beat or kill someone without just cause. That occasionally they’re not the good guys at all, but the bad guys dressed up in blue and wearing a badge on their chest. We can’t possibly imagine a world in which the criminals might be telling the truth and where those we trust to serve and protect are lying to us.
So, I want you to watch this. It will be hard. Watch it anyway. Read about how our heroes (allegedly) deleted incriminating footage, and how for more than a year they kept this damning dash-cam video under wraps, until a judge demanded it be released.
And as you do, remember that other place.
By: David Love
White people are angry, and a poll says they are the angriest in America. It looks as if white America, collectively, is crying white tears.
According to a new NBC News/Survey Monkey/Esquire online poll about outrage in the country, 49 percent of Americans are angry. But not all anger is equally distributed. It turns out that 54 percent of whites are angry, followed by Latinos at 43 percent, and African-Americans at 33 percent. Further, while 73 percent of whites said they get angry at least once a day, 66 percent of Latinos and 56 percent of Blacks responded the same way.
And women (53 percent) are angrier than men (44 percent), with 58 percent of white women saying they are angry, as opposed to 44 percent of Black and Brown women.
Another revealing result of this study is that Republicans are angrier than Democrats, as 61 percent—as opposed to 42 percent of Democrats—say they are angrier than a year ago. According to the poll, Republicans cite Congress and consumer fraud as the issues that set them off the most, while Democrats point to the police shooting of unarmed Black men.
In addition, the poll reveals a sentiment in the loss of the so-called “American dream,” with a majority of people finding it hard to get ahead and saying they are worse off. Middle-aged Americans were found to be the most pessimistic. Not surprisingly, the least angry were those earning higher than $150,000, while the angriest earned below $15,000.
It is curious that those who should be the angriest, however, are the least angry. That, of course, would be Black people. After all, Black folks are the ones who are hunted down, the runaway slaves who pose a constant threat of insurrection in the mind of whites. Black people are the scapegoated and the criminalized, the repository for white insecurity, the personification of white fear, angst, resentment and rage. And as the identified enemy, we pay the price for it in a variety of ways.
At present, we are witnessing white anger playing itself out in the rise of the neo-fascist xenophobe Donald Trump. The rage is rearing its ugly head in all of its grandiosity and dysfunction in Burns, Oregon, where an armed white militia has occupied a federal building, and vows to stay there for years, and kill or be killed. Exactly what is going on here?
It appears there is a confluence of events and circumstances, with the first Black president, and a nation that is becoming increasingly Black and Brown, particularly because Black and Brown people are soon to be a majority. Things were not supposed to be this way, as the idealized, homogeneous America of the 1950s when Black folks were invisible, except when cleaning white folks’ homes or hanging from a tree, is gone.
In the mind of the angry white man, sharing the nation with people of a darker hue, with those whose native language is other than English, and who are not Christian is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, when Black people, who have suffered for the centuries they’ve been in America, receive even a modicum of justice, just a taste of what has been denied to us, whites respond with rage and a feeling something was taken away from them. In comes the white tears, the hurt feelings, the insecurity, an unwarranted feeling of white persecution, of being aggrieved for something Black folks supposedly did.
As Damon Young wrote in The Root, this irrational fear among whites that they lose out when Blacks gain anything has had dangerous, violent consequences for Black people throughout history. For example, the Ku Klux Klan was a direct response to the political and economic gains of Black people following in the post-Civil War reconstruction era.
“It [has] white people so upset that this still relatively small percentage of the population had made some incremental progress, and so threatened by that thought, that they created a terrorist organization to quell it,” Young wrote.
Fareed Zakaria made an excellent point in the Washington Post—whites are in self-destructive mode. They are killing themselves, with mortality rates rising, as rates of death for Blacks and Latinos are declining steadily. The main causes of death among whites, are suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdoses, brought on by depression, despair and stress, particularly among uneducated whites.
Moreover, this is not being experienced in other countries. Zakaria attributes this to the fact that people of color “might not expect that their income, standard of living and social status are destined to steadily improve. They don’t have the same confidence that if they work hard, they will surely get ahead.” He added that “after hundreds of years of slavery, segregation and racism, blacks have developed ways to cope with disappointment and the unfairness of life: through family, art, protest speech and, above all, religion.”
As the poll indicates, white people are angry and they direct their anger against the least angry, those victims of white supremacy who should have the most to be angry about. Welcome to America.
Atlanta Black Star