Like many an aspiring blogger, I fell off the wave of initiative and drive to add to my blog. It’s been over a year since I published my last article. I do not know whether or not I will continue to add to my blog in the way that I originally had set out to. Time can be a very flexible and malleable thing sometimes. However, in remembering the access I yet have to this outlet, I’ve decided to take time to write out the anxieties I have when thinking about the world we live in-primarily when considering the racial division we have yet to alleviate. I am not an individual who has spent many years on this earth, nor do I consider myself as someone wielding sage wisdom and knowledge. To be honest, I’ve only been in existence for a little over twenty years. In addition, I’ve been a U.S. citizen for a little over twenty years. However, I think that it takes only a month as a U.S. citizen for one to understand that racial division is a real problem. The following is a document that I put together months ago in order to decompress the wariness I felt on account of race relations in American society. I never published it on account of never feeling as though it was completed. However, I think that it adequately presents the thoughts that I have attempted to pursue up ’til now.
In no way am I an expert on the complexities of race. I am not the voice of all those who identify as African American, black, Afro-American, etc. I do not share the experience of all people of color past or present, nor do I see myself as a symbol for people of color. I am just another individual with a thought that needs to be explored. To all those of white and/or Anglo Saxon descent, please know that we know you all are not to blame. It has been acknowledged that not all of you hold any feelings of prejudice toward people of color. However, it must be addressed that many of the problems faced by people of color have arisen out of a primarily white-minded society. Don’t take my words to be the truth, rather, use them to propel your own journey and outlook on the topic of race and ethnicity. Statements made in the following typed thought may be strongly worded and/or charged. Again, use these statements to explore your own understanding of race and ethnicity.
When one hears the word “race,” they may conjure up a mental image of a physical competition of speed and agility. That connotation is simple enough. However, more often than not, when referring to the word “race” in its ethnically analyzed definition, there comes with it a series of mixed feelings and varied implications. For some, race and/or ethnicity—in their point of view—is a means of categorizing the differences between individuals both physically and culturally, which is reflective of its original denotation. Others see race and/or ethnicity as a celebration not only of what makes us different, but of the things that bring all individuals of society together through these differences in an idea similar to that of the “Salad Bowl” ideology. More commonly however, these terms bring about feelings of anxiety and burden to many a discussion—grabbing the white elephant by its reins, pulling it straight to the center of the sociological spotlight, and allowing it to amplify the paradox and the complexity of not only the terms being discussed, but those taking part in the discussion itself.
When analyzing race, one must not only look at its societal impacts and effects, but how it affects themselves on a personal level. Furthermore, individuals must also ponder how they themselves shape and mold race as a collective thought and dialogue. A common belief is that the trials brought about by race only fall to one side, meaning that the weight of race is either held by those who are oppressed by it, or by those who are faced with the responsibility of maintaining its tilted privilege. However, it can be asserted that any problems associated with race—racism, prejudice, disenfranchisement, discrimination—are present only because of the unwillingness of a select few to see race for what it has become. In short, the concept of race has been rebutted, ignored, and misconstrued to the point that many either do not believe, or knowingly fail to acknowledge the false notion that it can be readily dismissed with the packing of its carefully labeled “race card”; that race and its package of privilege and oppression do not exist; that the way society has been twisted in a last-minute adjustment for people of color is the true way; that people of color belong in the methodical, systematic downgrade of their standard of living, and that any move made to improve themselves or promote the departure from this reality is “reverse racism,” and is an attempt at destroying the natural order of society. Has this become acceptable? Have we as a people—as a society—been living a lie of comfort and equality? Have we been so blinded and shielded by what we believe to be real strides in racial equality that we are missing something very vital?
It is alarming to consider the fact that so many tragedies have occurred on the basis of racial prejudice in this ever-growing generation. Even more so is the fact that many of us have become so desensitized to the plight of the racially oppressed that these injustices have become something to expect—another tally mark on the list of people of color who “had it coming,” who “knew better,” who deserved the cruelty they received simply because they could not pack away their blackness, their “race card,” or their perceived inferiority quickly enough to the liking of those who took an offense to it. Additionally, any attempt at speaking out against these injustices has been media-played as an unnecessary nuisance in the prowess of a primarily white-minded society—as if by calling these situations to attention, people of color are taking any and all advancements made on their behalf for granted because they can’t appreciate “how far they’ve come.” However, if society is still perceiving people of color as bodies taking up space necessary for it to flourish; if black bodies are still being collected off the streets as a result of their false inferiority, or their tendency to get involved in the wrong situations and with the wrong people; if mourning black mothers are still being denied their grief by those who feel no sympathy or empathy whenever the tragedies they are coping with bring the misconceptions of race to light, there is still much progress to be made.
As stated previously, there are many individuals who have taken part in arguing against the existence of racism and prejudice. One can suggest that this belief stems from both the tangible and apparent advances made by people of color—as suggested by various forms of media-play shown to the masses. However, this thinking is very flawed in that a humanly constructed form of entertainment and often faux news cannot possibly be used to justify or demonstrate the realities of oppression faced by many people. Although there has been a significant increase in the presence of minority groups in media, film, sports, politics, etc. compared to previous centuries, this alone does not directly suggest an end to racism and prejudice, nor does it account for the hardships faced—past and present—by minority groups to achieve this. Additionally, individuals often become too entrapped in their own point of view and their own realities and/or personal lives, to the point that anything differing from what is known to them is false or invalid. This is commonly demonstrated when someone attempts to argue that racism no longer has a presence in today’s society by suggesting that their associations and friendships with people of color is contrary to any existence of racism. While they themselves may hold no ill feelings towards minority groups, they fail to see racism as a systematic practice, and also fail to see their part in it. In choosing not to acknowledge bigotry in all of its facets, the cycle of narrow-mindedness faces no hindrances and is allowed to continue through micro-aggressions, prejudgment, discrimination, and a disguised white supremacy.