Am I Racist? Part 3: Acknowledgement & Responsibility 

Am I Racist? Part 3: Acknowledgement & Responsibility 

Am I Racist? Part 3:

Acknowledgement & Responsibility

For the previous 2 parts of this series, click here: Part 1 or Part 2

There is this meme that I like. I came across it while following #ArthurMemes on the twitters. Of course, by now, you know it is an Arthur meme; what you may not know is why I like this meme and what in the world it has to do with determining if you are being racist. In this meme, Arthur is on a carefree strut down the avenue – because we all know he’s not beating the block – with his chest puffed up and a slick smirk on his face.

instagram-memes-arthur-turn-on-post-notification-tag.jpg

When I first saw this meme, I laughed and immediately thought of the obliviousness some people enjoy with respect to racism. (Note: The ratio of people of color to whites, I would estimate, is about 3:1,000. LOL.) Before we go any further, let’s recap the first two parts.

Am I Racist? Part 1: What is Racism?

In short, racism is the belief that a race is superior to another race (or races) and/or the structural institution designed to create and maintain the racist ideology. At the end of Part 1, we departed with the question:

How does racism, as defined above, affect my ever day life?

Hopefully, you’ve had the chance to wrestle with this question at least a little bit. If not, please take a few minutes to consider the question.

Am I Racist? Part 2: What is a Racist?

A person that operates as a racist, therefore, is a person who subscribes to the ideology and/or system of racism either consciously or subconsciously. More directly, one might say “I am operating as a racist”, if I subscribe to the ideology and/or system of racism either consciously or subconsciously. In considering how this definition applies to our lives, I gave three things to consider:

  1. What happened – How was this interaction different from other interactions?

  2. Race as a factor – What are the possible factors, including race, that could change my perspective of the interaction?

  3. The roles of each factor – How can these factors be accounted for in this particular interaction?

While I know how difficult it is to keep these three things in mind, I also know how important they are both when considering whether race plays a role in a situation as well as when considering our role, stake, and place in the system racism. Let’s unpack this and look at how we can be able to acknowledge and lessen our role in racism, whether ideological or systemic. But first, consider the stages of racial identity so that we can be sure where and how we are continuing this conversation.

Stages of Racial Identity

Helms’ White Racial Identity Development Model is widely accepted as the model of progression from racial obliviousness to anti-racism. These steps are integral when considering our role and stake in racism. The steps are as follows:

  1. Contact
    1. displaying oblivious to racism,
    2. lacking an understanding of racism,
    3. and professing to be color blind;
  2. Disintegration
    1. being conflicted over un-resolvable racial moral dilemmas,
    2. believing themselves to be non-racist and yet treating Blacks as second class citizens,
    3. not acknowledging oppression exists while witnessing it;
  3. Reintegration
    1. initial resolution of dissonance often moves in the direction of the dominant ideology associated with race and one’s own socio-racial group identity
    2. and firming a more conscious belief in White racial superiority, and racial/ethnic minorities are blamed for their own problems;
  4. Psuedo-Independence
    1. attempting an understanding of racial differences and may reach out to interact with minority group members
    2. and choosing based on how “similar” they are and the primary mechanism used to understand racial issues is intellectual and conceptual;
  5. Immersion
    1. questioning what it means to be White,
    2. searching for an understanding of the personal meaning of racism and the ways by which they benefits from White privilege,
    3. increasing willingness to truly confront one’s own biases and redefine Whiteness,
    4. and becoming more active in directly combating racism and oppression; and
  6. Autonomy 
    1. increasing awareness of one’s own Whiteness,
    2. lessening feelings of guilt,
    3. accepting of one’s own role in perpetuating racism,
    4. and determining to abandon White entitlement.

However, let me say this. I have been actively participating in conversations and activities trying to be more anti-racist and work against racism for close to 10 years now; only when I began to write this series did I even begin to consider that I vacillate between Immersion and Autonomy. (Let’s note that this is not reverse racism. There is no such thing as reverse racism.) Don’t forget the truth behind this a:

Reverse Racism Arthur Tweet

Hopefully, this model has given you some perspective into your own approach to the topic of racism as well as your role and stake in racism. We must be perfectly honest with ourselves and our place in the stages of racial identity. I am a black man, but I am speaking to white people. I would like to revisit a quote that I used in Part 1. In an article on HuffPost, Dr. Robin DiAngelo says:

I am white. I have spent years studying what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race. This is what I have learned: Any white person living in the United States will develop opinions about race simply by swimming in the water of our culture. But mainstream sources — schools, textbooks, media — don’t provide us with the multiple perspectives we need. Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know [Contact Stage]), you get the break-down we so often see [White Fragility/White Narcissism] when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.

I placed this quote here, again, because it says three powerful things that I would like to point out:

  1. white people develop opinions about race no matter what stage of racial identity they find themselves,
  2. white people are socialized to be racially illiterate, and
  3. white people don’t know what they don’t know about race, racism, and equity.

This is the purpose of the “Am I Racist?” series. In short, Part 1 introduces the reader to a thorough definition of racism and asked readers to consider their stake and interaction with this definition; while Part 2, building on their stake and interaction, introduces the reader to a thorough definition of a racist and what to three things to consider when self assessing one’s part in racism or as a racist.

In this concluding part, we will discuss the necessity of acknowledging and being responsible for one’s own part in racism. But be ye forewarned, I was told by someone that I’m similar to Morpheus-sama training Neo to dissect racism. If white people fully understand what is at stake in terms of racial equity and reconciliation and address the sordid and terrible American history, the nation’s citizenry can experience another Great Awakening and heal its deep and widening wounds.

In addition to this, there is another purpose for this series. While I’d like to engage all people, this series is specifically meant to engage white people’s understanding and self assessment of racism, both ideological and systemic. Both I and many people across the interwebs are tired of explaining this, so I wrote this series.

 On to Part 3: Acknowledgement & Responsibility

Before one can acknowledge racism, they must first address white guilt. In the article White Guilt is actually White Narcissism, Emma Lindsey said:

Despite being raised in a highly liberal “progressive” environment, I learned some toxic things around race relations. One was that it was unacceptable for me to state, plainly, my observations or questions around race so I kept quiet on topics that confused me. I learned there were certain things I was “allowed” to say, and certain things I wasn’t “allowed” to say, and these rules seemed arbitrary. I also learned that white people would say things they weren’t “allowed” to say when they were around other white people, but to repeat such things in larger groups was unacceptable and would lead to denial, and attacks on my person. I also grew to feel that I was inherently bad because a) I was personally blamed for repeating racist things from my environment and I lacked the maturity to understand where these ideas were coming from and b) I was implicitly included in groups that were obviously exhibiting racist behavior, so I assumed I was like them.

Again, Emma is stating the same thing that Dr. Robin DiAngelo stated before, white people learn some very toxic things concerning race that they unwittingly force and enforce upon other racism no matter how hard they might try. This is what must be acknowledged. This is what cannot be denied.

Now, I am not trying to offend; however, everyone that knows me personally knows that I am nothing if not direct, honest, and reasonable. It is for this reason that I decided to write this series. But, if you’ve calmed down enough to read this far, or were not angered by my statement, it does get better with diligence, practice, and honesty with yourself. Here’s what Emma Lindsey had to say about getting better:

As I matured, these feelings of inherent badness persisted, but my sophistication with respect to my own denial increased. I realized I was able to fend off these feelings of shame by acting in overtly “not racist” ways. If I complimented black people, for instance, or expressed outrage at racial injustices, my feelings of shame around my own presumed racism would be lessened.
Sometimes when this is highlighted people are assumed to be acting on “white guilt” but I think that is a misnomer. Guilt implies an understanding of the harm you have caused someone, and a desire to act in a way to mitigate its effects. I think a closer definition, and I mean no offense by this, would be “white narcissism.” Narcissistic behavior (at least as I understand it from reading the last psychiatrist) is basically defined as behaving in ways to create a positive story about ones self in order to maintain high self image. So, if someone volunteers at a homeless shelter so she can tell herself and others what a good person she is, she is acting out of narcissism.
However, narcissism is usually a cover for a fundamentally poor self image. Someone who secretly believes she is a bad person will be more motivated to do things to convince herself she’s a good person. Additionally, when confronted with evidence that something she did makes her a bad person, she is likely to act out in rage or denial (see narcissistic rage). The big problem with white narcissism, is while it may motivate some positive behavior, it also serves as a massive defense system that preserves subconscious racist behaviors.

While this post is neither about white guilt nor white narcissism, these are two very important concepts with respect to both acknowledgement and responsibility. The purpose for putting them here is to name the reactions that typically happen when the issue of race comes up around white people. You’ve seen it time and time again. Someone mentions race and white people begin talking about race and racism. Just like Emma said, there are feelings of “inherent badness.”

I have had enough of these conversations to know that this leads white people to do the things that Emma is pointing out. I have also had enough conversations with people of color to know that it is blatantly obvious when a white person is trying to overcompensate for some internal feeling of badness. It is very condescending to think otherwise, which is part of the problem. Remember, “ideological racism is the belief that a particular race is (or certain races are) superior or inferior to another race or races.” To think that people of color do not realize when good deeds come from a place of “inherent badness” as opposed to a place of genuine concern or empathy.

This is the subtle complicity that white people must acknowledge and take responsibility for. If you are looking for an answer to the question “Am I Racist?” and have not put together that the answer is “yes,” then you need to read the series again. However, it is not a clear and simple “yes” as in “yes, my heart is beating.” This is a part-time yes as in “yes, I am breathing.” For the most part we breathe without knowing, unconsciously, but there are times when we are definitely aware of our breathing. We fight to breathe when we exercise; we struggle to breathe when we are underwater for too long; and we control our breathing when we have been surprised or frightened.

Point is, we must all work on acknowledging and taking responsibility for the ways in which we are complicit in both ideological and systemic racism. It is imperative that we work on acknowledging and taking responsibility until it is as simple as breathing. Only then can we begin to work on racial reconciliation, equity, and healing our racial and historical wounds. But that’s my perspective; care to share yours?

The following meme has no purpose; I just enjoy that he’s balancing his gun with his espresso. Hope you enjoy it as well.

 

Facing the Demon of Yet Another Black Person Murdered

Facing the Demon of Yet Another Black Person Murdered

Facing the Demon of Yet Another Black Person Murdered

There’s this meme I like. It has a little girl facing a large demon. The girl is holding what looks like a leash tied to the demon’s hand and is grinning, ear to ear, with her forehead pressed up against the demon’s forehead. Looks like this:

It’s kind of a terrifying sight to behold considering what the demon could represent. When I first saw it, someone had posted about the demon’s of mental illness. I will not diminish the demons that people struggle with concerning their mental health. As a person with struggles of his own, I cannot deny the validity of that post.

But this post isn’t about mental health in general. This post is about how African Americans awake each and every day having to wonder at some point whether or not they will have to face the adverse effects of white supremacy, racism, or an assumed inferiority. I couldn’t sleep the other night. I was restless because Alton Sterling had been killed and was yet another black person being killed on camera. Then I saw the headlines for Philando Castile. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video.

I couldn’t bring myself to think happy thoughts. It’s depressing. Then I read Shaun King’s article in response to the #DallasShooting. King began with a brilliant analogy of a recipe for baking a cake from scratch and proceeded with following quote:

Somehow, the United States of America wants to have all of the ingredients for murder and mayhem, cook it at 500 degrees for a few [hundred] years, and be shocked when what comes out on the other end isn’t sweet peace and colorful rainbows. That’s not how recipes work.

This got me to thinking about everything that has happened in the past weeks. The hashtags, the posts, the comments, the articles, the colorblindness, the tone-deafness, the racism, bigotry, and hatred. All of these things are very real and call for a very visceral response whenever they are present. Trouble is, and  perplexing and frustrating at this is, African Americans have been dealing with this from the beginning.

This point calls for repeating. Black folk have been marginalized, dehumanized, and relegated to places of discomfort since the founding of this country.

I repeated this fact because this is why a black male snapped and even committed the very same heinous acts that he was (we are) upset about. I have never condoned violence or murder and have even argued with people about its use. So, when I heard about the #DallasShooting, I was broken. My first thought was that the shooter was not black. This is not because of some belief that Black folks are inherently better than white folks. No. I don’t believe any race can be better any other race since race is a social construct that functions as though it is an actual genetic difference for humans. I believed this because we already believe that there is a war on us because of the effects of the “War on Drugs,” “War on Poverty,” and the history of legal murders of black citizens in this country. We don’t want to do anything to give society more of a reason to dismiss our murders than it already holds dear.

But that’s tangential to what we’re here to discuss. Earlier this week, before all of the murder and mayhem, I shared this message on my page on the facebook, The Ewing Perspective.

It reads:

Some say that trauma is genetic. I disagree. Trauma, perpetrated brutally, passed from generation to generation, unhealed and rarely acknowledged, manifests itself in the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental sectors of our humanity. Whether Black, white, or other, it affects the citizenry of these United States continually.
Once we can address this openly, honestly, and without malice or fear of war, we can strive to address the racist sins of the past and begin collective healing.

I am still hopeful for collective healing. But, more than that, I am hopeful that we can discuss the dangers this trauma has wrought on our collective health and well-being. Moreover, people of color have been sadistically forced to dismiss their gut feelings in the face of such savagery justified by an inherently racist society. The “Taking Notes” blog on the NY Times states:

A fairer analysis, as ProPublica, found that black males aged 15 to 19 were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white males in that age group. And the Washington Post reports that black men [as a whole] were seven times more likely to be killed by police this year [written 9/4/2015] than white unarmed white men.

For centuries, these massacres have been perpetrated against black folk at the hands of white folk. It is such a devastating acknowledgement when one realizes the validity of their own rage and yet the helplessness and hopelessness at the thought of a solution.

Moreover, what is crystal clear in situations like this is the fact that “white Americans couldn’t handle what black Americans go through…” The more I processed the reactions to the #DallasShooting as the more information was released, It became clear to me that this was the case. I will cite one case to support my claim (and black people, I’m sure, know exactly where I’m going): Orenthal James Simpson. Do I have to lay out the case? Here’s my brief synopsis in black and white:

White woman and white man found murdered. Black husband suspected and charged for allegedly committing the murders. Large trial. Black man acquitted.

Does the OJ story end there? NO. Everyone knows that. But in talking to a white friend of mine a few years ago, I got to summarize why I was so excited for OJ’s acquittal. As I have said before, I am against murder in any form; and I don’t know if OJ did commit the murders. But, what I do know, is that his case is the ultimate example of what black Americans go through that white Americans can’t handle.

Now, I won’t discuss whether or not he should have been acquitted; I won’t discuss whether or not the murders are justifiable; and I won’t discuss whether or not he is finally being punished for the murders. But what I will discuss is this: this is the demon that black Americans face over and over at the hands of police officers, neighborhood watchmen, angry men in a gas station parking lot, etc, etc, etc… our justified lynching.

For my black readers, this is the argument that must be made in addition to the financial protest on behalf of every black citizen that has ever been killed by, hung by, lynched by white men. The demon has terrorized the souls of black Americans for far too long and we must join together in financial protest to see to its exorcism.

For my white readers, I thank you for having the courage, perseverance, and commitment to reading this far. But your job doesn’t end there. There is so much more to be done. Before I recommend that you do your research to learn to become an ally in our fight to exorcise the demon of black lynchings, I recommend that you self assess the amount to which you have colluded in racism in America. This will take a great amount of the courage, perseverance, and commitment that you have already shown in reading this far. There are two things you can do:

  1. Take the Implicit Association Test on race and
  2. Read my series “Am I Racist?

For my readers who are neither black nor white, your place in this fight for exorcism has not been overlooked. I thank you for showing some of the same courage, perseverance, and commitment to reading this blog post. I invite you to both participate in the financial protest as well as determine to what extent you have participated in racism in the steps laid out above.

Together, we can exorcise the demon. Together, we can fight for racial reconciliation.

Am I Racist? Part 2: What is a Racist?

Am I Racist? Part 2: What is a Racist?

Am I Racist? Part 2: What is a Racist?

Need to read Part 1?

There is this meme I like. It’s straight out of a scary movie. It is a picture of an open field on a deeply foggy day. The field is covered with a soggy grass with a single barely visible tree in its center. While there are a couple different versions of this meme, the caption typically reads “The longer you stare at this picture… The more zombies appear…”

That’s when you notice that creeping through this fog there are several zombies. Well, at least, I saw several at first. True to its caption, the longer I stared, the more zombies I saw. At one point I thought the image was a gif or a small clip. Surely, these zombies aren’t dead. But no. It’s a jpg file. A pictoral representation of the country blind to the issue of race.

By now, I bet, you’re wondering what this has to do with whether or not you are racist. Racism is very much like the zombies in the meme. The more attention you pay, the more of a critical eye that you look at things in the world, the more racism you will inevitably notice. And for those of us that live with racism and have no opportunity to disengage, it is very much like living in an episode of “The Walking Dead.”

Let’s recap Part 1 before moving forward.

Am I Racist? Part 1

In the first part of this series, we defined racism, as both ideological and systemic.

Ideologically, “racism is the belief that a particular race is (or certain races are) superior or inferior to another race or races.”

Systemically, “racism is an institutional arrangement, maintained by policies, practices and procedures — both formal and informal — in which some persons typically have more or less opportunity than others, and in which such persons receive better or worse treatment than others, because of their respective racial identities.”

In short, racism is the belief that a race is superior to another race (or races) and/or the structural institution designed to create and maintain the racist ideology. At the end of Part 1, we departed with the question:

How does racism, as defined above, affect my ever day life?

Hopefully, you’ve had the chance to wrestle with this question at least a little bit before moving forward. If not, please take a few minutes to consider the question.

Considering the Question

When considering how racism affects your life, it is important to isolate an individual interaction or situation that you have recently dealt with. For example, I went to the Cubs game this past Monday with two friends. I wore one of my favorite black t-shirts, which says “I’m a math teacher, of course I have problems,” some salmon slim fit khaki shorts, and some gray Jordan Eclipse off-court shoes. This is what I would describe as an innocuous black man fit. I describe it in this manner because I have noticed that people, and white people in particular, tend to treat me differently when I wear something like this fit.

On my way to the game on Monday, I had a doctor’s appointment in an office I had never been. When I got to the building, which turned out to be a large hospital complex with several buildings, I approached the front desk. There was an white man and woman working the front desk. After what seemed like a minute of standing in front of the white man, he white man continued with what he was doing; however, the white woman looked me in the eye, smiled, and asked how she could help me. I told her that I had never been to this particular site and was looking for my doctor’s office.

While discussing with her, she mentioned that she “absolutely adored” my t-shirt and thought it was funny. At this point, having heard that I was a math teacher, the man chimed in to help. It was apparent to me not only that he’d been silent because he didn’t want to deal with me and that he also knew exactly how to help me find the doctor’s office. He gave me directions; I thanked them and was on my way.

I mention this situation as a seemingly run of the mill trip to the doctor’s office; however, I wondered whether or not race played a role in my interaction. In considering this, I thought of three things to consider:

  1. Consider what happened – How was this interaction different from other interactions?
  2. Consider race as a factor – What are the possible factors, including race, that could change my perspective of the interaction?
  3. Consider the roles of each factor – How can these factors be accounted for in this particular interaction?

If I answer all three questions and find that I am left with race as a number one factor, then I believe it is safe to say that race played a role in the interaction. In answering the questions, I concluded that:

  1. Consider What Happened – I had seen a few white people interact with both of the people at the desk and their interactions did not seem suspicious or rude in any way.
  2. Consider Race a Factor – I am not a white man and maybe the man became busy without answering the phone or having anything in front of him that he seemed to be working on.
  3. Consider the Roles of Each Factor – This man’s disposition towards me changed once the woman read and commented on my shirt. It seemed to me that he decided that I wasn’t ignorant or threatening in any way so he could help.

When considering the question and the three considerations, remember racism will pop up like the zombies in the meme; the more you consider, the more racism you may see. While this is true, racism and the racist label should only be applied to situations, interactions, systems, and/or yourself. The goal of this series is not to outline how to pick a racist out of a crowd. The goal of this series to discuss how to determine whether we ourselves are complicit in racism and there for carrying ourselves in a racist manner.

What is a racist?

A person that operates as a racist, therefore, is a person who subscribes to the ideology and/or system of racism either consciously or subconsciously. More directly, one might say “I am operating as a racist, if I subscribe to the ideology and/or system of racism either consciously or subconsciously.” Let’s address this with an example quote that is overwhelmingly and blatantly racist so as to make the ideological and systemic identifiers the more obvious.

Cliven Bundy, quite possibly the worst Bundy since Ted (with Al being a close second lol), said:

I want to tell you one more thing that I know about the Negro… …They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

The ideological belief put forth in this quote is that African Americans, which Bundy calls the Negro, are intrinsically, habitually, and culturally identifiable and described by these characteristics/actions.

The systemic belief put forth in this quote is an inherent dependence on this structure and the inability to escape the structure. Hence, this quote points out the structures of oppression affecting the African American community while simultaneously blaming the victims.

The problem with this quote, ideologically I believe, is more than the belief that an entire race can be described by a conglomeration of the descriptors or actions of subset of its members.  This much is obvious.

What may or may not be obvious is that a racist not only subscribes to a racist ideology and philosophy, but also seeks to reconcile their conception of a single member of a particular race with a theoretical racial archetype, i. e. a racist tries to force a person to conform to the stereotypes of their group. For example, a racist has trouble believing a person of a particular race is a doctor or not a thug. We all have seen examples of this in the media:

  1. Former Tennis Player James Blake
  2. Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  3. Unarmed Street Peddler Amadou Diallo

Systemically, Bundy wonders openly whether African Americans are better off in one system of racism versus another. Even  though there exists a group of people who will disagree, it is arguably well-known that slavery was the substructure system of racism in the U. S.

Summary

In applying the three considerations to the Bundy quote, we can see that this interaction is different (1 Consider What Happened) from others that we have seen because the racist ideology is stated plainly for all to see making it easier to call out. Race is a factor (2 Consider Race a Factor) because Bundy definitively made his comment about an entire race of people, although this could have been watered down with phrases such as “inner city” and “ghetto.” Lastly, I’m sure there are other factors at play (3 Consider the Roles of Each Factor), but due to the blatant racist ideology, they are entirely masked.

Again, the longer you search for racism within yourself, the more you should come up with. This does not mean you are a bad person or vastly different from any other American. This means you, and I, have the responsibility to search and root out racism in ourselves. But again, what is your perspective?

Continue to Part 3.

Am I Racist? Part 1: What is Racism?

Am I Racist? Part 1: What is Racism?

Am I Racist? Part 1: What is Racism?

There’s this  meme I like. It has a stick figure sitting on a rocket that’s going pretty fast. You know it’s going pretty fast because its trail of smoke spells out whoosh. Anybody who’s been a kid, like I have, knows that whoosh means fast.

For example, someone could say “I was standing on the stop as the bus was approaching and… Whoosh!” We all know that bus was going pretty fast… And DID NOT pick up the person on the bus stop.

But this meme also has a small dot in the lower left corner labelled “the point.” Apparently, the rocketist whooshed right past the point and didn’t even notice. As I watched this video of David Pakman discussing race and racism, the feels spoke to me and we were in agreement that a point had been missed. Let me lay it out.

Incepted in this video is another video where trump is eating and being interviewed in a diner, on the campaign, and a lady yells out “Enjoy your sandwich, you racist! I love New Hampshire!” Now, the jury is out on whether or not one can love New Hampshire, but “Enjoy the sandwich, you racist!” speaks to all of us. On this, we can all have an opinion.

In fact, the inceptor video calls into question the use and meaning of the word “racist,” whether it’s being overused, and if there should be a new word that is used. Herein lies the several points that were missed.

Pakman raises several questions in this video and as well makes several… uh, difficult… statements. He mentions those that have taken the word racism and try to apply it to anyone who calls out racism because they made it about race. He goes on to say that there are some who use the term racism “unfairly (1:40)” to stop conversations that should be had. He then raises the question of whether the term “racism” has become a “diffuser or conversation stopper for everybody (1:50).”

Allow me to respond to this question.

Is the term “racism” a conversation stopper?

No. Period. The only people that hear the term “racism” and end a conversation are those who are not ready to own up to their stake in the history and culture of the word itself. These people range from

  1. those who proclaimed a post-racist society after the first Obama election
  2. to those who claim or imply that racism is the act of an individual
  3. to those who think the acts designed to address racism are racist in and of themselves.

 

While these people are not necessarily members of one race, another, multiple races, or no race at all, they are typically unaware of their struggle with whiteness. More pointedly, in an article on HuffPost, Dr. Robin DiAngelo says:

I am white. I have spent years studying what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race. This is what I have learned: Any white person living in the United States will develop opinions about race simply by swimming in the water of our culture. But mainstream sources — schools, textbooks, media — don’t provide us with the multiple perspectives we need. Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.

The rest of us, as though this conversation is dichotomous, seek to address the issues as they arise and only agree to disagree after having found the consonances and dissonances within the conversation. However, the question “Is the term ‘racism’ a conversation stopper?” leads to more questions than answers regarding racism. Let’s look at arguably the most pressing of them.

What is racism?

Tim Wise defines racism in two ways: as an ideology and as a system.

Ideologically, “racism is the belief that a particular race is (or certain races are) superior or inferior to another race or races.”

Systemically, “racism is an institutional arrangement, maintained by policies, practices and procedures — both formal and informal — in which some persons typically have more or less opportunity than others, and in which such persons receive better or worse treatment than others, because of their respective racial identities.”

In the video above, there is the conundrum of whether the young lady believes trump subscribes to ideological racism, systemic racism, or both. In this series, I will not seek to prove whether or not a person is racist; however, I am seeking to explain/understand my perspective on the archetype of a racist and whether or not we, ourselves, fit that archetype.

Summary

This is a sufficient stopping point in the conversation. The information above is very dense in terms of set up and topic. In part 2, we will discuss a fundamental understanding of a racist before discussing whether or not we, ourselves, are racist in part 3. However, before we do, let’s think about, process, and discuss the definitions and understanding put forth in part 1.

The question that I would like to leave you with is “How does racism, as defined above, affect my ever day life?” When reflecting on or discussing this question, whether in the comments, on the phone, with your friends, a spouse, God, or the mirror, you want to keep in mind that this is a very complex topic that will not be solved in one post, conversation, or comment thread.

And always remember to “seek first to understand” in conversations concerning race and racism. This way, we can hear each others perspectives with empathy and patience.

Continue to Part 2

On Scams and Dollar (Opinion)

Recently on Huffington Post, Steve Siebold wrote a piece entitled “The Biggest Scam of All: Pastor Creflo Dollar Will Get His $65 Million Luxury Jet.” In this piece, Siebold goes on a rant about how Pastor Dollar is a con man and his organizations acquiring of a $65 million luxury jet “has got to be one of the biggest shams ever.”

I went into this piece thinking there’d be some valid, facts based arguments. I can admit it; I was wrong. This post, since it’s based on opinion and conjecture, is purely subject to the writers opinion.

The term eisegesis, from Greek exegeiro which means to put into, is used when a reader or observer adds their own interpretation to a reading or situation instead of seeking to understand the contextual culture.

For example, I’m not Japanese. There are many customs that I do not understand. Uchi and are the concepts of leaving things outside of the home. It is customary for the Japanese to leave their shoes outside of their door.

I do not leave my shoes Outside of my house when entering. However, I cannot say that the Japanese are stupid for their cultural practice of Uchi/Soto.

But the writer of this post is under the impression that he can eisegete this situation and pass it off as truth.

This is not how writing should work. And I know that I go on rants about various things, but I also know they are rants.

This post is a rant. It’s a rant written by a person who clearly does not believe in the prosperity gospel.

Not that I do, but I’m also not going to judge those that do. “The bottom line: It’s time for people to wake up and stop being stupid!” (Well, those that I  don’t know personally #hate)

There is one part of this post that I did enjoy:

“It’s not surprising, really, that people buy into this nonsense. After studying mental toughness training for the last 31 years, there’s a definite pattern of people who are operating from a weak state of mind to be more vulnerable to the suspension of critical thinking and doing anything that makes them feel better. Being addicted to the emotion of hope is a killer, so when Pastor Dollar tells them to give $300.00 and reminds them of the promise of everlasting life, a mansion in the sky and being reunited with loved ones, it sure sounds pretty good.”

The Ewing Perspective on African American Oscar Wins and Nominations

In 87 years of Academy Awards, there have been 5 African Americans that have won Best Actor (out of 87) and 8 African Americans that have won best supporting actor (out of 68).

It should be noted that Halle Berry (2001 Monster’s Ball) and Denzel Washington (2001 Training Day) won best actress (or actor, respectively) for playing roles that were dehumanizing or did not stray from stereotypes.

Based on these numbers, there should be an African American best actor or actress every 21.75 years and an African American best supporting actor or actress every 8.5 years. However, since the awards are held only once a year, that would turn out to be every 22 or 9 years, respectively.

It also must be said that there are gaps in awards from 1939-63 and 1963-82. Since then there has been an African American to win best actor/actress every 8.5 years or best supporting actor/actress every 4.9 years. All this with very few nominations and no wins in the last 7 years.

The Ewing Perspective on Progress and Boycotts

I was thinking about this article and it occurred to me that boycotts may not be the most appropriate response to such blatant under-and devaluing of black lives. If we boycott every business with antiblack racist leadership in America, we’d only be supporting black businesses and some businesses owned by other people of color. At one point or another, I’m sure every business leader has said or done something racist, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Face it, American society is largely antiblack. From the Oscar to fortune 500 CEOs to politicians to police brutality to police homicide to police forces to military to education to the prison industrial complex to much more vastly and broadly further, if we cannot admit that black lives are at risk every hour of every day, then we are already conceding losses.

This isn’t a black issue solely, it’s mostly a white issue. If white people don’t break the code of White silence, then progress will continue to move steps forward while sliding down the hill of racial equity and equality. And if we truly want to address the historical wrongs of this nation, then we must be able to come together, share our vulnerability, support and encourage each other, and work together in the reality of how skewed the issues really are and have been allowed to be in this country.

Maybe this is just my perspective, but it can’t be far from an agreeable truth. What’s your perspective?