There is a river in Africa called the Nile, which is the lifeblood of the continent. In the same sense, white folk prescribe to something that sounds like the river, DENIAL, which is the life’s blood of their thinking about black people and all other races. It’s called racism! Oh yeah, they say it is not true, and they love Dr. King, or they have “a black friend.” But the truth is, this idea is bred into white folk from their first breath and chose not to recognize it or admit it because White Supremacy is the foundation of their existence.
According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the term “racism” was in 1933, but the practice of racism was well learned by that time and been around since the birth of America. In the America, slaves were brought to this land by Europeans who thought their skin color and customs of the African captives made them less than equal to the “civilized” White settlers. This belief system permeated the treatment of Blacks in this country for hundreds of years, and in many ways, has yet to cease.
The term is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “a belief that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” There are some, me included, that believe that power and economics is part of the true definition of racism – combining prejudice with the power to act on that prejudice results in racism.
Today, there are few things worse in this country than being called a “racist.” It’s one of the biggest insults and dirtiest words someone can say. But the fact is it is as normal to some of the other hue as breathing. Therefore, a racist deny that they are a racist or a bigot but their actions say something other.
Just the accusation has caused countless celebrities to produce tears and apologies with no meaning or sincerity behind this act that even Ray Charles can see through. They usually continue by proclaiming their love for their one Black friend, who might not have known until that moment that they were the token. Nonetheless, it does not change the truth that there are many people who fit the definition of being racist. However, because the word itself has been so maligned, people often feel that they have to do something heinous to be described that way.
The truth of the matter is that racism permeates most things done in this society; from the content of our television shows and blockbuster movies; to who receives corporate promotions; to the way we police our communities; to where we live; to who we hire to how we treat our customers; to what we sell our consumers; to how we educate our children. Racism is rooted in the core of the American soul!
We live in a world where even when something or someone is legitimately racist, we have trouble identifying it. Racism has become so nuanced, that even the racist person believes that their racism doesn’t exist. There are at least one unarmed black person killed each week by white cops that we know about over the last few years and only a few whites killed by the police, by comparison over the same period. They see no racism in this at all.
We can look at cases like the twelve-year-old in Ohio or when Michael Brown gets shot ten times walking down the street, even though his hands were up, white fold struggle to say it was racism. When Marlene Pinnock gets brutalized by a White highway patrol officer or Trayvon Martin is followed home and turns up dead after a struggle with the shooter, white folk usually say it’s not racism. White men commit mass murders, and they say the white guy was ill but cannot see who is really ill – themselves.
The problem with racism is that the perpetrators say that they aren’t racist. But the power part of the definition will always allow them to define the terms. They say they don’t say “Nigger,” rather they say “the N-word,” isn’t that the same as calling you a Nigger!
We cannot be afraid to call out racism when we see it. It exists and every day, someone in some place across this nation is experiencing it, feeling like they are alone and not knowing how to deal with it. The worst thing we can do is to pretend right along with those who don’t want to admit that racism exists or are racist and know it. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…