When most people think of racism, visions of terrorism delivered mano a mano come to mind. You know … slavery, white hoods, lynchings, and other acts of abject terrorism and the trauma they leave in their wake come to mind. Interpersonal racism’s more comely, yet equally damaging sibling:institutional racism is not only alive and well, but thriving in the most unlikely of places. The time has come to shine a light on a textbook example to provide a better understanding.
People who don’t listen aren’t interested in a conversation. What they want is to stand on their soapbox and give a lecture.
It seems with each passing day that it’s becoming more difficult for people with differing opinions to have reasonable discussions about those differences in opinion. Call me an optimist, but I do believe it’s still possible. The trick is to
have a strategy before you start the discussion. Otherwise, it’s way to easy for the conversation to dissolve into a real world version of “Clash of the Titans.”
Yesterday, Nike kicked off a new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, in celebration of its thirtieth anniversary of its iconic Just Do It campaign — three days before the 2018 NFL Kickoff Game takes place in Philadelphia, with the Falcons visiting the Eagles.
A popular question going around lately is: how do I get my cis-het white male friend to acknowledge that racial inequities exist and that it’s wrong?
In order for anyone to begin to understand the unbridled interpersonal and institutional racism that People of Color face on a daily basis, they have to have already embraced two prerequisites —
Disney Imagineering is the company’s think-tank full of super-creative designers, storytellers, and engineers who dream up theme parks, resorts, and attractions. All projects go through a crucible of development phases before they’re deemed ready for the public. During the first phase, everyone is encouraged to think outside the box and develop ideas that know no bounds. This phase has been dubbed the Blue Sky phase.
It is with great sorrow that we, the family of our beloved Clay Rivers, announce his passing. His body was found by authorities late last night in a wooded area in Ocoee, hanging from a tree. Please respect our privacy during this time of deep mourning as we try to understand this unspeakable act.
—the Rivers family
The fear that members of my family would ever have to post the above message or something similar has been a palpable fear I’ve lived with since I was in my early twenties. While I seldom, if ever, had reason to be in Ocoee, I grew up hearing rumors about Ku Klux Klan activity in Lake County. This has been a pervasive fear among black families who have lived in central Florida long enough to know of Ocoee’s reputation as a sundown town. For years, a well-known sign even gave public notice that blacks should not be found in Ocoee after sunset.
Racism. The subject is steeped in centuries of emotion. The mere mention of it among people of different ethnicities has the ability to suck all the fun out of a room faster than a backdraft consumes air, and more often than not, the resulting vibe after such discussions is just as combustible. There are those who are exhausted from explaining it and those who are tired of hearing about it. In all honesty, I don’t enjoy writing about the subject. But … as a Person of Color, there’s one reason I continue to have those discussions — and if you consider yourself an ally of People of Color who stands against racist practices it’s the same reason why you should continue to as well: I have those discussions because they matter.
My parents and grandparents used to wield an old maxim when I was a kid: you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. I vaguely understood its meaning as: you can’t everything you want. If I had a cake—a slice, a cupcake, or an entire cake—of course I’d eat it, and that would be the end of that. What needed to be discussed? Ah, the sweetness of youth.
The parallels between understanding matters of race and taking an exam with a pass/fail grading curve are similiar. A bit extreme, but similar. It’s easy to say “you either get it or you don’t.” Granted there’s a whole lot more to it than that, but roll with me on that analogy.
Before we get to the answers, you have understand that given some people’s racial experiences, they’re response of “I’m tired of having to educate white people about my feelings …” is more than a little justified. It is a wholly valid response. I say that not to be dismissive, but we don’t ask a rape victim to recount the experience of having been raped or spell out the emotional horror that follows such an experience simply because we want to know. It’s just not done. Understand, I’m not throwing cold water on anyone’s desire to understand the experience of People of Color, but at its core the experience is human and more relatable then one might first imagine. I say that because, well … People of Color are human just as white people are human.
The problem isn’t so much that some white people don’t understand “white privilege.” The problem is potentially two-fold. First, they may not understand it by that specific name. I’d never heard of the term “white privilege” until a few years ago; but growing up in the south, I knew it when I saw it exercised … even with my eyes closed. Everyone in these United States recognizes the concept of white privilege when they see it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this 1-minute video from educator, Jane Elliott.