A Tradition of Racism
America: the Racist. That is the unpleasant reality we don’t like to talk about. The skeleton in the closet. The cancer of our supposedly great nation.
We are not a post-race society developed from an era following segregation; we are, instead, part of an epoch marked by denial and silent contempt. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and today, we still have not fulfilled it. From the entertainment industry to our justice system, from presidential remarks to the very foundations of the social interactions we have at Maine West — #racism has pervaded the way our society currently functions, and has functioned
since its foundation.
When one goes to the doctor with symptoms of suffering, their claims are not rebuffed and minimized, yet that is exactly what America has done with its own systemic disease. Disregarded it with ignorance. Dismissed evidence of systematic disenfranchisement. Refuted the problem right in front of all of our faces.
Racism in 2018 is not blatant displays of refused service or separate accommodations but rather a silent pestilence, interwoven into all aspects of our lives through stereotypes that feed off each other. According to a 2014 study from the Entman-Rojecki Index of Race and Media, 89% of black women in movies are shown swearing and acting in offensive behavior while only 17% of white women are portrayed in this manner. And we sit and watch. We accept it and let it absorb into our subconscious.
Over the course of our lives, it has silently festered — in some more than others.
Yet, when revolution does rise, the cries of outrage ring even louder than the initial resistance itself.
“All lives matter.”
“You will not replace us.”
These are the chants of opposition from people who deny their position as a racist, yet fight against movements of
egalitarianism. Furthermore, our current political climate has only exasperated the problem at hand by uniting
America not through a shared goal of equality, but by the fear of people who look different. According to our president,
those from Norway seem to be the ideal immigrants when compared to those from “sh****** countries.” Mexicans are criminals and rapists but white nationalists are “very fine people,” he said.
These statements from those in the highest position of authority are the ones that make our allied countries wince, but our president is only the tip of the iceberg. The subtlety in which racism affects all of us is the paradigm of our ignorance of racism. No one is going to admit they are racist, for they might not even recognize the connotations their thoughts and actions have.
The Asian student doesn’t have to be on math team or automatically know all the answers or get straight A’s. The black student does not have to play basketball or be a good dancer. Dark hair and tan skin do not mean someone speaks Spanish. Some generalizations do have a reasonable basis and in some circumstances prove to be accurate, but they should not be the foundation on which we base interactions with our fellow classmates and workers. We should caution ourselves on readily forming generalizations about our fellow human beings.
We need to recognize that although we say we’re not racist, in some ways, we are. During incidents of large-scale violence, those in hijabs, turbans, and topis are the first to be suspected. Anti-semitism hauntingly remains a problem across the globe through denials of the Holocaust. Being on welfare is seen as being equivalent to being a minority. This is not a black vs. white problem. This is a problem of people of all representations, and before we can even make change, we need to recognize that we have a problem.
It is not the doctrines dictating our justice system that are flawed, but rather the applicability to our present day court and prison system that are corrupt. The bias found within each of us, including police officers, judges, and prison guards have led to a system of inequality. Although white Americans are statistically proven to participate in drug usage more often than those of other ethnicities, blacks are more likely to be incarcerated.
These issues are not going to be fixed lightly and will require decades of not just a shift in laws, but a shift in mindset. Instead of denying our plague of racism, we need to take the first step on the road to recovery and say, “Hi, my name is America and I have a problem.”
To recognize that when we look at lower A-Wing, we shouldn’t think of those with a darker shade of skin. To recognize not all minorities are first-generation, ESL students. To recognize that being white does not automatically make you Christian. To recognize that Hispanic does not mean broke. To recognize that having a different race, religion or creed should not mean being judged by the worst of one’s kind. Only after admittance can we start the process of fixing our relations, our institutions, and moreover, our way of life.