Racism for White People 101: A Crash Course in How Your Black Friend Doesn't Absolve You of Your Racism
The Basics of Racism
The problem with white children learning about racism from public education is that the school curriculum and the western concept of education as a whole was created by and for white people. Therefore, school is a white supremacist institution. As such, our society has generation after generation of children growing into adults who will do anything to keep from being called racist except not be racist. We use every tactic and excuse in the book. From "I have friends that are Black" to the ridiculous and fallacious concept of "reverse racism" to justify, deny, and deflect our racist proclivities.
One of the most misunderstood aspects of racism is that it is both durable and dynamic. Racism adjusts itself to be compatible with the times. This is because, contrary to popular white belief, racism is not based on the idea of a love/hate paradigm. That's just an expression of it. One of many different expressions of it. Racism doesn't just look like white hoods and burning crosses because racism doesn't just target skin color, it also targets culture. It can just as easily be expressed by fetishizing Black bodies and putting dread locs in our hair. Most people who are racist have no idea that they're racist. The genocidal nature of overt racism is actually the minority of racists. These days, most white people are so pressed to prove we aren't racist that our efforts to do so only end up highlighting our racism. Racism is, in fact, based on the idea of an inferior/superior paradigm. However, most of us fail to understand that you can love a dog and still treat like it's inferior to you. Our racism is just as predominant and axiomatic in the white savior complex as it is in lynching black men.
Unfortunately, instead of attempting to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what racism is, we tend to focus more on our own feelings that arise when we're confronted with our own racism. When posed face to face with our own indoctrinated racism, we become either fragile or arrogant as a defense mechanism. We become so hurt that someone could possibly think we're racist, that our own feelings of offense and indignation take precedents over eliminating racism - in all of its forms. Nevertheless, as the venerable Angela Davis said, "it is no longer enough to not be racist. It is time to be anti-racist." If we are not actively working to deconstruct racism, it means that we are complicit in its continuity. Anyone who idly stands by and allows something to continue is just as culpable as those who actively perpetuate it. This means that we as white people need to stop prioritizing our feelings over the eradication of racism and start acknowledging our racist indoctrination. This includes encountering the topic with some semblance of humility and compassion. If we're going to deconstruct racism, there are 5 fundamental elements that we need to understand.
- Racism requires power. Capitalism is where racism gets its power from. Chattel slavery was the scientific means through which capitalism was achieved. Effectively, the slave trade was the capital for capitalism. This is why you cannot have capitalism without racism. Racism is prejudice and/or discrimination with the power to enforce it thereby effecting the everyday lives of an entire race. Because Black people were the enslaved race, they have been systematically barred from gaining any institutional power.
- The aforementioned definition of racism is also why reverse racism does not exist. Prejudice and discrimination are not the same as racism. Black people can be prejudice and they discriminate. But they cannot be racist.
- Integration did not equal equality. In order for integration to equal equality, the system that Black people were integrated into would first have had to be equal. Black people were integrated into an unequal system and placed at the bottom of it.
- The white savior complex is an expression of racism manifested through endeavors like missionary work, international litigious processes, and the nonprofit industry. It is based on the idea that Black people lack sufficient ability to solve their own problems and ameliorate their own circumstances so they need white people to do it for them. There's nothing wrong with trying to make a difference in the world. But using Black suffering to make yourself feel relevant and better about yourself is also racist.
- We need to stop trying to use the dictionary definitions of racism to try and justify reverse racism. Dictionaries are written by universities which are part of the education system. As previously elucidated, the education system is a white supremacist institution. Ergo, dictionary definitions are created by white people. Allowing white people to define racism is like allowing sex offenders to define rape.
Further Educate Yourself
If we are interested in seeing an end to racism, we must remember that these 5 fundamentals of understanding racism are not a comprehensive outline to do so. As previously mentioned, racism is far too complex to be summed up in 5 points. However, these 5 points do provide a solid framework from which the impetus of understanding it better can proceed.
© 2019 Caleb Murphey