Dear lovely white people in real life, on the internets, and world wide who have felt the need to educate me on some things,
The people who can rightfully declare racism to be over? Are the people to which the racism is happening.
Don't worry, we'll let you know.
ps. And just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't be racist, you know better than that.
Disclaimer (cause I'm a softie): I speak in generalizations, but know that when I talk about whitefolk, I'm talking about THE WHITE as opposed to each individual white person ever. Several of my flist is white and I love y'all like ice cold water on a hot summer day, but some of your counterparts are trifling!
I know that all blacks aren't goodness and sunshine, but due to several events that will be discussed below, I think I'm being fair by giving us the benefit of the doubt in most cases. I like to talk about these things because they can be put in any context. To say that racism doesn't exist is to say that evidently all -isms don't exist and discrimination is in the eye of the beholder which is not only untrue, but completely condescending. Discussion of race lends itself to discussions of gender, sexuality, and personal freedoms in general.
It's not even that there was a big bust up that happened today that sparked this, as much as a lot of seemingly minute instances of covert racial discrimination that make me wonder. What gives white people the right to say that racism is over? And why does it surprise me at all that this seems to be the cool new thing?
This country has been settled by white people for nearly 600 years (which is barely anytime at all). Of those 600 years, approx 450 involved some form of human slavery, the majority of which was African (if you want to call that human). Let's guestimate that you can have 4 family generations in a decade. 4.5 decades of slavery means that approx 18 generations of African families were held in captivity (correct my math if I'm wrong).
Can we think about that for a moment? The monument of that, the sheer capacity of that? You know they say that if you were molested as a child, there is a fairly good probability that the behavior will be repeated, and then that person will repeat it and so on. Think about 18 generations of that. And not even a literal molestation, but the physical, psychological, and emotional abuse at the hands of an oppressor that devalues you so much that you have to fight to become 3/5ths of a person!
Think about the first generation of Africans off the boat. You come to a new land full of a race of people you've probably never had any contact with. You're separated from your family, from your villiage, from your culture, your language, your power structure, your safety net; and you're forced to do manual labor that may have been beneath you back home. You may become complacent and settle in to this new life, you may become militant and rail against the system, you may be killed, you may escape, but whatever you do you have to deal with the fact that you are no longer you. You are no longer Guyanan, Nigerian, etc, but you are... not American, not yet, but instead in limbo.
You may be bred with some female on your plantation, you may come to the conclusion that your wife or husband is dead and to move on so you meet someone and marry them, but some way you have children. These children grow up speaking English, forgetting the ways of their homeland, they see you as the world around them sees you, and in turn the way they see themselves. Maybe some work hard and see you as an inspiration, maybe some see you as a disgrace, maybe some look up to your master, maybe some have been torn away from their plantation and never know you.
So these children, they start to grow up and some of them have children, and maybe one aspires to read and is beaten because of it, and one aspires to be free and gets killed because of it, and maybe the body of one is hung as an example, and maybe this example works. These children grow and they have children that for whom this way of life is their way of life. Fully born into slavery, fully knowing nothing of their past world, knowing nothing of real family life, of being free, or being a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, human.
And all the while, you have groups fighting against slavery, except some want a more humane method of slavery, and some want to go back to Africa, and some want you to go back to Africa, and some want to seceed from the Union, and some want to provide higher education, and some think you should learn trades, and you're sitting there, in the middle of this, working your blackness off trying to figure out if maybe you should wake up tomorrow?
The disunion that was brought into the African American family is something that is still palpable today. The false notions of disregard for the black man by black women, the mammyfication of the black woman, or the sexualization depending on skin tone, weight, or sometimes nothing at all. The placement of the white woman on a pedastel as an object of desire, the punishment of the chase. All of these things work together to keep control of the black mindset where it belonged, in the hand of their masters.
And it worked so well, and so forcefully, that it was allowed to continue for 100's of years. Hundreds of years of this endless cycle until one day slavery is outlawed. And here's where it gets even better.
"Well hello nigger, the law says I can't have you as a slave anymore, so get out."
1. "Okay! Gotta go, see you when I see ya!"
2. "I'm sorry? Law?"
3. "I don't have anywhere to go."
4. "I don't WANT to go."
5. "Get out and do what?"
Slaves with no education, no income, being forced out of what had been their homes for years and into a world that was pretty unaccepting. They were expected to rebuild new homes, get jobs, education, and become decent citizens with no psychological support, and very little federal aid.
Wow, that sounds eerily.... current.
And while not all blacks were happy about being free, there was a rather fair number of whites who were also displeased. To the point of segregation, and Jim Crow, and Strange Fruit, and syphillis, and the KKK, and burning crosses, and assisination, dragging men behind trucks, beatings beyond recognition, and racial profiling.
And it gets to the point where laws have to be passed, and amendments made to the US Constitution that say, "Hey, yeah, sorry about that whole you not being a whole person thing. Umm, and you can go to school anywhere, and get a job too! And... well, oh you don't have to be slaves anymore! Oh, did we cover that? Well what else do you want?"
And that's just what happened to black people, so when I get emails, or read posts, or talk to my special, lovely whitefolk, and I hear,
"There's no more racism, it's mostly just classism now." It really pisses me off. Classism not based on a racist system? Does that make it any better?
"Well, at least not in more Urban areas. The larger metropolises don't have racism." I was going to go all linky on you with several examples of racism in LA, New York, and Chicago, but then I thought, "WTF-ever! What kind of dumb sh*t is that to say?" And even if that bit of effusement were true, and again, does it matter?
"Well in large areas there's no racism, the smaller areas there probably is a bit. Nebraska only has about a million people right? That's not so bad."
Let's take a bit of a side trip to talk about redistricting in Omaha. Now, the way I understood it was that Omaha felt that Omaha schools weren't getting the proper funding from the taxes in their communities. A lot of major businesses were paying taxes to different districts so what Omaha decided to do was redistrict, and put all of the school under one platform of OPS and make sure the monies got distributed accordingly.
There were two plans, and Ernie Chambers (resident black political "leader". He's pretty trifling, but one thing he does well is rile up the whitefolk, more on that in a bit) headed a plan to break up Omaha into three sections. Now normally this wouldn't be an issue, but the way Omaha is set up, North Omaha consists of blacks, South Omaha is mainly Mexicans, and West Omaha is white. Because of some big businesses West Omaha would receive the most funding, then South, then North. I honestly don't remember the fist plan, and of course that was the one that made the most sense, but Ernie's was the one that garnered the most attention and was eventually passed.
What's sad is that everyone knew it was a racially divided, but no one wanted to fully acknowledge that. And this is the kind of thing that Ernie does. He never says it, but he knew this plan was BS when it was introduced, and he also knew it would pass with flying colors. I admire his moxy, but I don't like it at the expense of the education of our children, but I guess that's the point. I actually don't have too much of a problem with the decision, what's funny is that while this redistricting is forming, a lot of the communities are moving to compensate. Omaha's downtown (North) is going through a major renovation and more white are starting to move there and South to the smaller developments (LaVista, Bellevue), and Blacks are starting to move West for cheaper affordable housing, and Mexicans are pretty much just chillin' where they are, but moving slightly North. Meaning in the long run this plan will eventually benefit those it was going to hinder at first. Of course, that's a lot of years off and who knows what changes will take place then. I also don't have any kids in that system nor do I teach or administrate there. There are several kinks and now the NAACP is involved so God knows where it will go, but the fact that it happened is telling of the state of race relations right in the heart of this country.
Anyhow, when you say something like,
"Racism doesn't really exist anymore", or
"Crash was too dramatic", and
"Affirmative Action has run its course and is no longer needed", what you are saying to me is,
"In this bubble where only I exist, racism is not an issue, and for that reason I can not acknowledge that perhaps to others it is definitely a problem, because those people obviously aren't as enlightened as I am." What I hear is,
"I refuse to apologize for the mistakes of my ancestors even though you have to live with them." and,
"I've stopped feeling bad about racial discrimination, I really wish you would too." or,
"Obviously your paranioa has nothing to do with past events, you should look to the future!" or my favorite,
"Nigga isn't even used the same way as nigger! I've never heard it used that way in real life so now that the meaning has changed, I don't see a problem with saying it regardless of how black people feel about it. Because it is my decision."
I agree with the statement that racism has become less overt, I agree that there are more ways to combat and prevent raciscm, but racism is most definitely not over. Not until you can convince multiple generations of POC that their worth doesn't lie in stereotypes and assumptions. That their cultural definitions have nothing to do with gangs, violence, jail, drugs, and STD's. Not until we can get hired based on merit without having to assimilate to white standards and norms. Not until the natural crayon in the Crayola box doesn't mean white. Not until white is not the standard, and everything else is exotic, or unusual, or strange. Not until we say so.
And like I said, just hold tight, we'll let you know.
AND I STILL DON'T HAVE MY 40 ACRES AND MY MULE!