The murder of Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police while she lay sleep in her bed (they still haven’t been arrested) during a no know raid looking for someone already in custody, and the murder of Ahamad Arbery by two white men while he was jogging, barely moved the needle of public interest in America. Such incidents, the deaths of innocent African Americans are so normalized in our society that other than a little outrage here & there, but they are somehow easy to forget.
Then George Floyd happened. Yet another African American, killed by the police, this time by an officer who put his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, whilst being filmed, whilst being begged to get off him, whilst his colleagues did absolutely nothing to stop him. Suddenly, police brutality was shockingly exposed and utterly impossible to ignore. I don’t care what crime he may have been accused of, a police officer should never, ever do that. It is simply inexcusable, so horrific were his actions that protests have rightly been ongoing ever since all over the country and also around the world.
So despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the big subject in our world at the moment is racism. Hear me now, this is a good thing. As difficult and as uncomfortable as the conversations are, they have been needed for decades, heck centuries if you like, it goes back that far. Many people are hearing terms like systemic racism, white privilege and white supremacy for the first time, or in new contexts that are shattering previous understandings.
For the first week or so after the murder of George Floyd I was too angry to coherently speak about it, my heart rate was elevated, I’m sure my blood pressure was up (Fitbit doesn’t track that) I was just angry. I was also afraid that once again nothing would change, that it would be the same response as the mass shootings in this country. Initial outrage and then nothing. I was frustrated that again I can do practically nothing about it. Then I decided, that even if what I can do is practically nothing, at least I can do what I can do. Part of that is processing it all, getting things straight in my mind, the best way I know to do that is by writing. So this will likely be long, probably scattered and maybe not make much sense.
The question you have to ask yourself in this time is do you care? Be honest with yourself, do you care about racism? Do you care about societal equality?
This is not a question of where do you stand on policing techniques or how well you feel society and it’s systems are functioning. The very basic question we need to ask, to begin with is do you care about racism and equality? If you don’t care, at least be honest enough with yourself and your circle to admit it.
If you do care, are you willing to take responsibility for your own actions? Are you willing to hold yourself accountable and investigate where racism may play a role in your own life? Maybe you’re in a really great place with regards to racism and black people, still ask yourself how are you doing with people from China or India? How do you feel about Iranian muslims? Every human being holds prejudice, it is unavoidable, they are an effect of the environment that we live, but how do the prejudices you have, affect your life?
There are a lot of people who are open to the subject and are making the effort to self evaluate and gain education. Some who have been on the journey of “doing the work” for a while and some who feel like scales have just been removed from their eyes. This is a good thing, the more people who realize something is wrong, the more chance something may actually change. Of course there are people who just don’t care and those who are quite frankly ok with racism.
Me? I am not ok with racism, it offends me to the core of my being. Sure, I am white, middle class and speak english & have literally no chance of being on the receiving end, but there are very few things that get me as angry as racism.
Before we go much further, I suppose we should at the very least look at the definitions of race and racism (sourced from dictionary.com)
- a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
- a socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture:
- a group of tribes or peoples forming an ethnic lineage:
- pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.
- referring to the origin, classification, characteristics, etc., of such groups
- a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
- a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
- hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
So race is a social construct, essentially a way to group people together by a shared geographic, ethnic or cultural identity. Racism is a belief that the differences between our fellow human beings based on the pigmentation in our skin, or the geographical and cultural history of our ancestors makes one group of people inferior to another and as such breeds a hatred based on these differences.
Racism is a doctrine so utterly devoid of merit that it is offensive in its very suggestion before we even get to the odious nature of its effects. It is the bastard child of arrogance and ignorance and it has been wielded as a weapon of division by power hungry rapacious sociopaths for far too long.
This got a bit long, so part 2
will follow tomorrow can be found here https://unhiddenlight.blog/2020/06/26/looking-at-racism-part-2/