In the previous post, the video speaks of racism as something we can destroy. Yes this is true. However, the one thing–one MAJOR aspect of racism that cannot be ignored in order to eradicate racism, is the fact of racism within social structures.
As I had mentioned before, and I’m of course not the only one who says this, I’m just writing here…….racism has been internalized from the structures of society as well. This is our laws and policies as well. If we look beyond ‘hatred’ as the guiding post of racism, and look at it in many manifestations and forms and strategies, then we can see many things that oppose a whole community or group but a racist ‘word’ or gesture is never presented. How do we ascertain racism when it’s not personal?
I feel that this is where each person needs to study, reflect, ask questions, think……respond to yourself, advocate for change. For instance, to give you an example:
Let us say a poor urban black family, has been living as a clan with grandmothers and grandfathers and aunties and uncles and cousins taking care of each other, while perhaps the parents work three minimum wage jobs and can only sleep when they are home because they are exhausted, and the entire family must cope with perhaps the other issues in the neighborhood that make it difficult–perhaps there are drug dealers with large guns that make the youngest child more afraid to go to school, etc. And perhaps the child is depressed from not sleeping and is punished at school for sleeping during class, etc.
One of the neighbors, during a casual conversation with a white person downtown, mentions that the mother is never home and the father is never seen. This white person turns out to be a social worker. He/She then visits the house and in the end, perhaps has the children taken away from that home because the parents are seen as unfit. This, even after the entire clan is there saying that their children are fine and that the others take care of them. This is an old and classic example that has been repeated over and over again. The policy of nuclear family life, for instance, and the care of two parents for children, can be racist. You might argue that this is not racism, it’s about families. However, most of the people affected are people-of-color: Latinos, African-Americans, Southeast Asians, for instance. While this has not happened to most of the low-income white families by-in-large. What is the law for? It’s not that the social worker intended it to turn out that way. The social worker was trying to do the right thing in his/her mind. They were not ‘evil.’ But certainly that worker is playing out the racism of the policy and the assumptions of family, life, care, and how this may look. Individualization and nuclear families are industrialized, neo-liberal, capitalist and colonial enterprises, beginning its dominance in history during the rise of these frames of living. Even white people themselves largely lived in large clans before the domination of our present system began during the colonial period. Racism comes from without, through us, and we are practitioners of it.
We are all, regardless of what race/ethnicity (which are constructed terms during the same rise of colonialism, etc…as you may know), colonized mentally and emotionally, by racism and the other isms.
Let’s be willing to look at racisms working through me and you and everyone in different ways and degrees. Just because we ignore it personally, doesn’t mean anything except that this ignoring is a condoning of the continual creative manifestations of oppressing ‘the other.’ In institutions, in our laws, in our long-held assumptions, in our ignoring, in our saying and perceiving, in our everyday, it is moving and morphing. It has been allowed by us in varying degrees. Some have been more victimized. Others are privileged enough to be able to ignore, leaving others to the repetitive knife of oppression. We have divided ourselves as individuals and as societies and cultures, into the hidden and the shown; the discarded and forgotten. Faking what we need to show, preferring to wish it would just go away. This is what is making pain in the world. Most wars are based on racism, the preparations for war and the propaganda required, creates a society. Afterwards, when the victor and the defeated are friends (more like having developed colonizer and colonized relations), the culture has, meanwhile, acted upon and remember the racisms that proliferated, and institutions have not changed from those times. This makes the structures we are living in as producers of racism. Personal change is not enough.
In a sense, we may try to reflect on that fact that we are in exile from ourselves. We must take our power and our senses into our own hands, change its direction. Start our way home, which is unknown at present, but infinitely more just.