What is Racism: Short and Sweet

I was in recent discussion with a peer about the convoluted subject of racism.

Long story short, a church in my city was vandalized with graffiti. They drew swastikas, KKK, and wrote “Nigger” on the siding. I posted the local news article on Facebook with the sarcastic comment, “But….. this stuff doesn’t happen though.. 🙄🙄🙄”.  Discussion ensued and the subject of people believing racism is obsolete came up. That’s way too much to explain on a Facebook post. At the request of my peer, keep this brief. So, here we go with the short and sweet version.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Racism 101.

We have been conditioned to see racism in an overt manner. Racial slurs. Burning crosses. KKK. Slavery. Fire hoses. Police dogs. Physical violence. Jim Crow laws. All of that is very real. What we fail to realize is racism has changed. It is no longer in your face screaming obscenities, or denying you the right to vote. It’s subtle. Small microagressions. It’s a word call implicit.

Every single one of us has biases. We will never admit it because we aren’t supposed to be biased. However, its ingrained in American culture to stereotype one another. If you closed your eyes and I asked you to describe your idea of an illegal immigrant, then I’m certain it would be someone of Mexican/Latino decent. Why? That’s one of the stereotypes assigned to that group. Some people act these stereotypes out. Or, they’ll make assuming remarks. Have you ever heard (or said) the following?

“Racism doesn’t exist because we elected a black president.”

“You’ve never been a slave, so slavery has never affected you.”

“You’re not like the other (insert race). You have a good head on your shoulders.” — I’ve personally been told this.

“If he had just complied, then he would be alive right now.”

“Racism exists just not the way you say it does.” — Tomi Lahren is famous for this one.

“You’re really well spoken!” — Said with shock and awe because you have good diction.

“You must be from the south. You have a southern accent.” — Nope. I was born and raised in North Dakota.

I could keep going and going Energizer bunny style, but you get the gist. The problem with every single one of these statements is they patently deny race as a factor, or they assume certain implications because of race (i.e. I’m black so I have to be uneducated and speak “ebonics”; You’re Mexican so you must be illegal). This is how racism, prejudice, and stereotypes have evolved in how we carry them out. It’s simple manner of conversation.

We just don’t want to admit it.

The thing is, I read or personally interact with these comments quite often. The people that make these statements believe racism doesn’t exist, or they will only accept its existence if they can define it. They are stuck in a world where calling out racism means you have a “victim mentality.” Unless, of course, they call it out. Then, all is well.

It’s hard to encompass the entirety of racism in 500 words or less. It’s definitely not black and white (pun intended). Nonetheless, you have an idea of how it works present day. Pay attention to what was said and see how this applies in your life.

This is racism 101.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Shielders Anonymous says:

    I can honestly say that living in small town North Dakota has been an eye opener for me. Being born and raised in a country where the population is 90% black did not prepare me for the undercurrent of racism I have seen/experienced. I agree wholeheartedly that most people have no idea that their statements, attitudes and preferences are shaped by racism and prejudice in some way, and it would be no small feat getting them to open their understanding and admit that this is true. Case in point: I was at a Starbucks during my summer practicum studying with two classmates (as was common practice for us due to the library not being conducive to learning at the time) and we were quizzing each other for an exam the following day. I sat in a chair with my back to the door and their chairs were facing me so they had a direct view of the entrance. We were only there for about an hour and were right in the middle of our questions when they both stopped (like mid sentence) and began packing up their things. I looked at them and asked what was going on and they said “we’ll tell you in the car, we have to get out of here now!”. After getting in the car I asked again why are we leaving so suddenly and Miss NC replies “didn’t you see that!?” I responded “see what!?” She says “those guys that walked in looked like they are about to rob the place and we didn’t feel safe”. I turned around to see what guys she was referring to and I saw three black guys dressed in casual attire standing on the line. I asked “are y’all serious right now!?”, and Mr. MT responded “I know they are your homeboys but we just didn’t feel safe in that situation!” Being furious at this point I responded “you two are the most ignorant people I have ever associated with”, to which Miss NC replies “we are not racist, we just didn’t feel safe there”. After a brief back and forth, they maintained their stance. “I am not racist, [because] my husband and I voted for Obama”, “I have lots of black friends from high school and college”, and blah blah blah. All I could do was shake my head. They honestly believed their actions came from a place of survival and not racial prejudice. Nevertheless that incident changed my worldview. I realized that I was oblivious to the covert racism around me and now I had to make a conscious effort not to build a wall (all jokes aside) when I encounter people with that mentality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      The line, “But I voted for President Obama!” spoken like that makes all of their actions in this particular moment okay. People do that all the time, though. Then, they expect you to understand because “You’re not like them.”


  2. Eddie Gilliam says:

    Great voice. keep it going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Thank you for your support! I truly appreciate it.


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