How Do We Start Being Anti-racists?
As a nation, we must come to accept the pains of what happened three weeks ago in Minneapolis. We also can find hope in the subsequent rise of the global justice movement, speaking up against systemic racism and white supremacy. While the issue of racism had been on the front pages of newspapers at different times, for the first time, there is a conversation about systemic racism in the US. This uprising feels different than others of the past.
People have risen against tyrants and dictators, unjust and imperialistic economic systems, wars and colonization, and even climate change and global warming, but this is the first time people are demanding structural change which is at the foundation of the social ills of our time, including wealth gap, political corruption, police brutality, and genocide. For the first time in history, the core issue of the global problems has been named, systemic racism.
Systemic racism has many facets, but at the core it is based on the ignoramus belief that “whites” or Western European descendants are superior to all other people groups and have created economic, political, social, religious, and cultural systems that benefit them unequally. This system is maintained by indoctrinating the population through the dissemination of false narratives through educational systems and segregating people by enflaming xenophobia. This system counts on the “whites” to be numbed by their privileges and uses surrogates – newer immigrants through the “model minorities” myth – to take up the mantle of discrimination in exchange for a small crumb of privileges.
Systemic racism counts on “whites” giving up their humanity and seeing themselves as mere economic resources, and they are becoming fearful of losing everything at any mention of a change to the system. The racist system promotes the idea that we should forget the past and just start fresh from today. However, ignoring the use of evil systems - such as genocide, slavery, apartheid, and generations of trauma and pain it has caused - to concentrate wealth among few “whites”, is racist. Even though previous generations instituted the racist structure, it counts on the current generation’s pursuant of self-interest to ensure that it is not dismantled.
What is necessary is for the “white” community to recognize that they are racist because they have benefited from racist structures. Even while some of you personally may not think that you have had any privileges and you are a nice person, but that is not the issue. You have benefited because you are “white.” You did not have to wonder if you would be denied a job because of your skin color. You did not have to wonder if your neighbors would object to you moving into the neighborhood because of your color. You did not have to wonder if someone would feel threatened by you because of your skin color. You did not have to disprove someone’s assumption that you do not know you were talking about because of your skin color. You did have to teach your child how to process racist attacks. You did not have to pray that your child would not be stopped by the police simply because of his or her color. You do not pray each night that your child would not be killed by the police. These are just some things that “Black” people deal with every day.
Many good people have asked me, “What can we do to fix this?”. Well, the problem is that this will take time, and there are no easy fixes. However, the starting point is listening. Our hearts need to be broken if we are going to change the system. Some think if we are just kind to one another, then things will be alright. That is not true. The only thing that will result is that you will be a nice person, but the system is still racist, and you will be upholding the racist system with your niceness. Do not trade kindness for dismantling racism. Dismantling racism is painful and hard work. It is hard to sit and listen to years of pain, but that is where it begins. I will invite you to take time and listen to one another. Really listen. Do not think about how you can add to their thought. Do not think about how you can share a similar story, just listen. Just listen. Listen to the heart, the pain, and hopes. Then in the process of listening, after much listening, you may realize you heard the answer as to what may be the next step.