It occurred to me today, that perhaps the reason why people struggle with the existence of racism or dare I say its prevalence, it’s because no one wants to think that their opportunities or how far they’ve achieved certain goals have nothing to do with their abilities. They want to believe that their music is just that much better, their intellect is just that much higher, their “whatever” is just a notch above everyone else. Accepting the existence of racism= accepting a “lesser than” view of themselves for their lived experiences and most people can’t do that in good conscience.
What breaks my heart is that those that live under the shadow of racism have to question everything about themselves all-the-time!. It could be mundane things such as “did I really not arrange my shopping for the cashier to reach without straining their arm” or more consequential ones like ‘is my level of education just not suitable enough for the entry level position”. I’ve grown accustomed to pre-checking myself, ensuring that I leave my bad day at home or deal with it by crying in the bathroom for fear of making everyone around me uncomfortable. I rationalize for my kids, whenever they face this ugly reality and inadvertently keep pushing them to an excellence for which the greater society will never willingly accept of them. Yet, on the rare occasions that some non-racialized people, especially the deniers amongst us, face a rejection that doesn’t sit with their expectations, they raise the kinds of holly hell that causes policy changes. I admire the LGBTQI movement (or organizations depending on the settings) for their quest for “allies” as they figured out earlier on that real change can only come when straight people, who are not seen as having any personal motivation stand up for their rights- Bob Marley (RIP) should have asked us to get up, stand up for other people’s rights- not our own I suppose.
LGBTQI are people’s children, siblings, and extended family members etc so finding allies is easier- one wishes to ease the pain of their blood relatives. Racialized people tend to be related to other racialized people and where we attempt to form alliances via intermarriage (I see you Harry and Meghan!), people lose their collective minds and drive such attempts out of town- 50 years after Loving v.Virginia no less!!
At the same time, some would-be allies are putt off by fear of being seen as “culturally misappropriating’, which is really a disserve we do ourselves because imitation is the best form of flattery and by mainstreaming our “cultural’ experiences, perhaps we will appear less threatening (food for thought)
I do not enjoy talking about racism- I really wish I’d never have to utter that word in my current or future life. I am tired of thinking that somehow something that I have no control over- the tone of my melanin-determines my price of admission pretty much everywhere I go. Apparently my youngest daughter (11 years today :)) missed being born into generation Alpha (2010-2025) which is projected to be the first post-racial generation. I hope she and her siblings can reap some of the benefits of such an existence, just like I’ve enjoyed being millennial adjacent.
Until then- I will borrow Ellen’s simple but just so thoughtful phrase and ask that we be kind to each other