The Influence to End Racist Systems Rests on Your Shoulders
For a while now, racism has been seen as violence augmented by far-right extremists, but, actually, a more insidious kind of prejudice can be found where we least expect it- at the centre of respectable society.
I limited my engagement with the privileged ones on the topic of race. Not everyone, just the vast majority who deny the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. Engaging without the gulf of an emotional disconnect just seems unnatural and implausible as you feel their eyes shut down and hardened.
As I watched the documentary The Color of Fear by Lee Mun Wah, I saw people of colour bursting down in tears as they grappled to convince a defiant white man that his words were perpetuating white racist standard on them. All the while, the white man stared obliviously, completely confused by this pain, at best trivialising it, at worst ridiculing it.
The journey in understanding structural racism still requires minorities to prioritise the oppressors’ feelings. Even if they can hear you, they’re not actively listening. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears to block up their ear canals. That’s the emotional disconnect. It’s really not surprising, because they’ve never known what it means to embrace a minority as equal, with thoughts and feelings, that are as valid as their own.
Some of the most prominent issues that prevail merely societally are the big Ism’s. Racism is one of the things that many people see or participate in day by day. It has been ingrained into our society so well that most are blind to it and fail to notice when that happens.
I observe time and time again people will say something or act in a certain way that is easily deemed racist, but they, and most others, brush it off usually as a joke and don’t care one way or another. One of the biggest issues with dealing against this is the fact that most people don’t actually deplore it or take it as a bad thing.
But, let’s make it clear that systemic racism is not akin to ‘making generalisations’.
It’s important to understand that systemic racism isn’t the same as individual biases or negative stereotypes (which we all hold). Though stereotypes about social groups are internalised in everyone, we do not all occupy the same position in the racial order.
Whether you realise it or not, racism is systemic, prevalent, and ingrained within the core of our major institutions. The consequences ensued by that are vast — from political disenfranchisement, racist immigration policies, to racial profiling and disparities in education, wealth, housing, employment, and health.
People are so ill-equipped to willingly see their privilege. They’re unwilling to even admit that we’re all of different colours. For that reason, I limited my interaction with many people on the aspect of race. Until I have come to learn about understanding perspective.
One’s perspective is shaped by their own racial background as well as other aspects of their identity. Understanding that people have different perspectives on incidents and situations helps to deconstruct the different light people have in certain situations.
Negative racial stereotypes carry their own weight that we all can help to eradicate, starting from bringing out a conversation among us. While it will be hard because of the cemented roots, there is still a need to tutor ourselves, our family, our acquaintances, the essence of love above prejudices and biases.
Silence on racism is complicit. Avoidance has never been a strategy in solving any problem. This is the time that we talk about race and we must do it openly. Inject hope and activism in the conversation, too. It’s important that we are not left feeling hopeless and despair.
A sense of positive expectations along with critical hope to go with the inspiration for action and activism. Believe that small and large effort make movements throughout history. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
To start with the never-ending task of challenging racial domination — as we explore our implication with it — we need to get across the nature of systemic racism. Racial stupidity serves to justify and reinforce racism. And in order for us to build a better world, we will need to be courageous in identifying and dismantling the many forms of ignorance and avoidant that keep so many of us in bondage.