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Denial – The Heartbeat of Racism

In the book “How to Be an Antiracist” Ibram X. Kendi makes the point that “denial is the heartbeat of racism.”


The important point he makes is that we will often point to the overt racist acts by others, such as a white police officer murdering an innocent black person in the streets or in their bedrooms, but we vehemently deny our racist attitudes. After the murder of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis, I was on Facebook, like many others posting thoughts and following other posts. However, I found that I had to get off of that because I could not stomach racist denial posts by those whom I know and have called friends.


We have to recognize that racism is like a dandelion. While dandelions are beautiful in the pastures or prairies, they are weeds in your yards, so we work hard to remove them. However, if you only pull them out, they will simply grow back because dandelion has very long roots. So you need to use the special tool that goes down into the ground so you can pull some of the roots out. In the same manner, the roots of racism have to be removed, or we will be faced with another form of racism in a short while.


When the Proclamation Emancipation was signed, it attempted to root out racism but failed to do so because it did not provide the “40 acres and mule” that was promised. Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Congress knew even back in 1865 that the only way we can undo the past wrong was by creating a system that will give the African American community opportunities to create generational wealth.


We have lived with the denial of the need for reparations for African Americans as well as the Native peoples from whom we stole the land. To say that since it happened years ago and that we can't undo that sin is denial. To say that it is not fair for this generation to pay for the past generation’s privileges is denial. To say that equal opportunities today is enough is a denial of racism in the U.S., and we are being racists.


The first step to dismantling racism in the U.S. today is to stop denying that racism exists, that we are racists, and that we have had privileges at the expense of African Americans and Native peoples. This also means that we cannot deny that reparations are necessary for us to undo the effects of past wrongs. For us, we have had privileges, or we had unfair advantages thus far, so it is now time for someone else to have that advantage over us. However, because we do not want to be at a disadvantage, we deny that racism exists or that we are racists.



Mr. Kendi is right when he says that the mantra of a racist is “I am not a racist.” Denial is proof that they are racists. Let us stop denying racism, but accept the truth and start the painful process of undoing racism.

Pastor Sunny

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Hope on Union, United University Church is an inclusive, progressive campus and community church located near USC, Mt. St. Mary's College and LA Trade Tech College on S. Union Ave. between 22nd and 23rd St. Rooted in the love of God, and following the example of Jesus, the faith community of United University Church seeks peace with justice, and welcomes all to join the journey, break bread and share stories of hope.

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