Understanding Your Racism

You’ve heard it before. “I’m not racist, but…”

But.

What this person means is “But I’m going to identify a common racial stereotype that emphasizes why I’m frustrated about a particular occurrence that happened to me and blame it on the entire group of people because it seems to me they all like to act this way/do this.”

Yea, we know. You’re not racist. You have black friends right? Or even more credible, you have black relatives! There’s no way in HELL you could be racist. You just hung out with your [black] friend Anthony last night, actually. And its crazy because your…like…really good friends! Have been for years. You’ve even said the “N” word in front of him before and he didn’t say anything about it! He laughed with you! HE wasn’t mad at all because he knew you were joking, right? Well, that’s just awesome.

While I’m sure it makes white people really good to point this stuff out, these are the people we need to stop dead in their tracks.

I am white and I live in a small town of white simpletons blind-fully unaware of their own bigotry. I grew up in Danbury, CT which has a very large Latino/Latina population, and growing. Many of the people I went to middle school and high school with grew up in families from the Dominican Republic and Brazil. My childhood best friend and next door neighbor’s family was from Azores and spoke fluent Portuguese as a first language. I had African American friend with whom I was very close with and never thought much of in terms of race. I was exposed to a good amount of diversity, but have only recently become more understanding of my own prejudices growing up despite believing I had an open mind.

The truth is, it is very likely that you, much like myself, are a racist. While I try to expand by boyfriend’s knowledge of race relations he still says, “Okay, but when you call me racist it makes it seem like I hate black people. You’re just talking in really technical terms.” Is it technical? It might just be that through external influences, perhaps not so obvious to the average “Joe”, we have been conditioned since birth to make preconceived judgments on a person we meet that are a direct result of their skin color.

I work in a diner on a main road right across the street from where I live. Right before the 2016 election a man came in and sat at the counter and was speaking to my boss for a little while. Overhearing their political commentary, I heard this customer indicate, very openly, “Trump says his first order of business is going to be the wall, but once that fucking monkey is out of office, my first order of business would be making sure all the toilets in the White House are changed.” My boss nodded and changed the subject, being a Republican himself. This was not some kind of awakening for me, this is merely one brief example. A co-worker of mine came up to me not long ago, his trucker hate pointing towards the ceiling; confederate flag belt tightened with the shirt tucked in; steel-toe boots just the right amount of muddy. “Majerli, was slavery not extremely profitable? Was it not the most profitable form of labor that helped the country prosper at the time?”

Naturally I just stood there and looked at the dumb kid a second before closing my eyes and walking away.

What do we say? What is the right thing to do? When we hear such vile rhetoric, do we have a responsibility to call it out? I’ve bitten my lip out of fear for my job, but I felt like a coward who wasn’t practicing what she preached. It’s very difficult to remain professional in situations like this, but keeping composure in front of ignorance has become second nature in such a small town.

I had to really break it down for my boyfriend one day in a way he could understand. I said, “What do you think of when you think of a black person? A muslim? An Asian-American?” He would give me the stereotype I expected. Then I asked, “Okay so then what do you think of when you think of a white person?” Needless to say, the silence was deafening.

It is not until we understand our own subconscious prejudice, recognize it, acknowledge it, and do what we can to change and dismantle a system of inequality that still very much exists today that can we accomplish any progress. We cannot tell black Americas what is okay and not okay to feel. We cannot tell them that their feelings are not justified. We cannot tell them that they do not have the right to exercise their constitutional right to protest and take a knee to them anthem. Football games are not events that defines one’s patriotism and these men do not owe the flag respect to which is only defined by white people. Who says these men identify with the flag? I’m white and I never stood for the flag ONCE in high school. This is because I believed-even then-“liberty and justice for all” did not exist.

Furthermore, We cannot lecture blacks on what actions are racist and what actions are not. You CANNOT say that the KKK has a constitutional right to freedom of speech and protest as long as they are peaceful and the NFL does not. Because there are people that believe what the KKK does is evil and those who do not and we see the same principle within the NFL controversy. You’re reasoning CANNOT be that YOU think it’s disrespectful because all I can tell you (and all I HAVE to tell you) is that these men’s right to take a knee is protected by the first Amendment of the Constitution. I don’t need to give any other explanation. The fact that you don’t think the NFL should be making political statements is completely irrelevant because they don’t give a fuck what you think and they don’t care if you watch the game as a result of their decision to take a knee, a decision WIDELY supported by their coaches, managers, owners, and former players alike. Moreover and more importantly, while everyone telling these players to stand during the anthem are going to say that the issue has nothing to do with their race (and maybe it doesn’t from your perspective), there has also NEVER…EVER… been a time in history where white people told the African American community it was okay to protest.

IT HAS NEVER BEEN OKAY FOR THE BLACK MAN OR WOMAN TO PROTEST.

IT IS NEVER A GOOD TIME.

SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, YOU’RE BEING DISRESPECTFUL, BE QUIET, DON’T CAUSE TROUBLE, STAY IN YOUR LANE, DON’T POLITICIZE THIS ISSUE, STAND UP, KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF…

THIS ISSUE DOESN’T AFFECT ME AND HAS NEVER AFFECTED ME AND WILL NEVER AFFECT ME IN THE FUTURE SO WHY WOULD I BOTHER UNDERSTANDING IT

I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of people picking and choosing what amendments to the constitution are acceptable in certain situations and which ones are not. We ferociously uphold the second amendment after sixty people are gunned down at a music festival, but tell the NFL that just because their right to protest is protected under the second amendment doesn’t make it right.

Hypocrisy is alive and well in 2017 and this is just the beginning. It never left and it’s better than ever..

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