My possibly unpopular opinion on racism…

I don’t normally discuss this because it’s a tricky topic but I felt like expressing a few thoughts on the matter: racism. It’s something that is so huge and constantly focused on. It’s this massive thing that takes all of the air out of the room in an instant. People put so much energy into what lies in the past that it has no choice but to be a part of the present and ultimately the future. As an African American (which I won’t even get into the details of how much that lable annoys me right now) I find myself constantly on edge anytime I encounter other “African Americans” encountering “white America”. I just know someone will yank out race card for some unnecessary reason and it’s embarrassing. Is racism a current issue? Of course, it will never cease to be because hatred and lack of acceptance is hard to eradicate. Yes, there are racists all over the world, and they have children who grow up to become racists and so the cycle continues and will always do so. But not every white person hates black people or Asians or Latinos and vice versa. So when I hear generalizations it bothers me. When I hear people speaking of racism I hear them say “I hate white people because they’re all racist”. No. They aren’t all racist, in fact I’m 100% sure that the person making that remark is indeed the racist.

I guess the main opinion that I want to share with you all (which I’m fully prepared for the vote of unpopular opinion I may receive for this) is that racism will be forever perpetuated by “reverse racism”. I know I know, a lot of people don’t believe that’s a thing. Ultimately neither do I, but that’s only because at the end of the day I believe it doesn’t matter which side it is coming from or going to, if it’s racism it’s racism. But the thing is, some people feel they are not racist when they make negative remarks against a whole other race just because said race is the majority. News flash, that’s racism. I guess the way I see it is this: racism is a stereotype that White Americans endure. Same as Black Americans endure the stereotype that they are lesser. Lesser educated, poised and stable. Which we all know is not true in every case. Of course like all stereotypes, there’s some truth to them. However, they are only the truths of the sums of each races parts and not the whole. Every race has faults, that’s what being human boils down to most days. We all have the potential to be the same person whether we are White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, gay, straight, Catholic, Christian…so on and so forth. These are all labels we use to define the things that separate us from the person next to or across from us. They share our existence but they do not make us who we are at our cores. Once you strip those labels away the only one that is left is human. That is the only race that we should be fighting for. Yes each group has their own cultures and that’s beautiful. Own it. But I don’t believe the difference should be used as weapons, we only fight ourselves to use them as such.

Will my thoughts on this subject matter much? Maybe not. But I share them with you anyway. I don’t intend to take away from anyone else’s experience with racism. If you’ve experienced it then I can understand the sensitivity you have for the issue. I only ask that you do not judge a whole entire group for the actions and words of only a fraction of them. It is never fair to box in a group and label them without knowing where they stand. I am not your “typical black woman” I guess, and yes that’s another one of those pesky labels. But it doesn’t bother me. I am human first and the culture of my ancestry comes after that. It does not define me wholly, only my actions and the way I live my life can do that. My last words on racism is this; racism is something that only thrives because we feed it. I’m not so much an optimist that I think we can do away with it altogether but I believe we can diminish its flames, make it something less frequent. The key is to let it go, to not hold it in your hearts against those who did not do the harm. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either.

So those are my thoughts. I’d love to know what you think in the comments below and you can feel free to discuss this further with me via Twitter @talichaj

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2 thoughts on “My possibly unpopular opinion on racism…

  1. “Once you strip those labels away the only one that is left is human. That is the only race that we should be fighting for.”

    Indeed. I think we’d all be better off if we just treated everyone we meet with kindness and respect.

    Several years ago, when Starbucks was still printing quotes on their cups, I saved one with a quote on it from Berkeley Breathed (accompanied by a picture of Opus). It’s not a unique sentiment—I’ve heard it stated different ways by several people (including George Carlin), but it has always made a lot of sense to me:

    “I’m not sure about people, anymore. They’re responsible for some pretty nutty stuff. Individuals I’m crazy about though.”

    I think it also illustrates a pretty simple, but no less powerful truth: It’s a lot easier to appreciate the good qualities of people when you approach them as individuals than it is when you consider them as just a member of a broadly defined group. I’m pretty sure this is what is behind the vast majority of “one of the good ones” comments we’ve heard from folks with otherwise prejudiced or bigoted views towards a particular group of people. Regardless of the group of people that these folks consider as “them”, when they get to know someone on a personal level, as individuals, the prejudices and group labels tend to fall away.

    Or, as one of my high school teachers used to say, it only takes one person to disprove a stereotype.

    Sadly, I agree that racism (along with sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc.) is not likely to go away any time soon. Not until our culture better learns to focus on the things we have in common, rather than on the things that divide us.

    1. Yes I agree with everything you said. “It’s a lot easier to appreciate the good qualities of people when you approach them as individuals than it is when you consider them as just a member of a broadly defined group.” Exactly what I’m talking about. Each person has their own thoughts and feelings and actions. To judge an entire group based on one or even one thousand others behavior is equally as bad. I know it’s never going to go away (racism, homophobia, hate in general) but I think it can definitely become a less frequent occurrence if people would only associate the negative actions and thoughts with the person/group that displays it. Pulling in innocent individuals does nothing but create two wrongs instead of righting one. Thank you for adding your thoughts to this topic. 🙂

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