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.”
If you think that not using labels when referring to “other” people is all it takes to make you post-racial, pull up a chair. It’s time we had a little chat.
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 —
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.
For some, it’s hard to believe issues of race, discrimination, and privilege still need to be addressed in 2017. But all anyone need do is have an in-depth conversation with a Person of Color about their direct experience in these matters to realize that racism is alive and well. With today’s polarized political opinions and rising numbers of hate crimes, it’s more important than ever that these conversations