DISCLAIMER: I’ve capitalized the ‘R’ in Racism throughout this post to indicate the legitimacy of Racism. With that being said…
Racism is real. Racism is happening. Racism affects the lives of real people in a very real way. Racism hurts. Racism can be traumatic. And sometimes Racism kills.
So why are people so afraid to talk about it? I’m really not sure. Maybe members of the dominant group in society are afraid of saying the wrong thing and in turn being called racist. Maybe the victims of Racism are afraid of further offending others who belong to the power structure in our society, fearing that speaking out about Racism will lead to backlash because this backlash can manifest itself in very real and very detrimental ways, say for instance, lost job and educational opportunities. Maybe some people are ashamed that Racism still exists. Maybe some people secretly hold prejudicial views of other ethno-racial groups, or of a particular ethno-racial group and don’t want those views to be exposed or to face the realities of their inner worlds. Whatever the reasons are for people being afraid to talk about Racism, it’s clear that we as a society are deathly afraid of talking about Racism.
Many people like to avoid the subject or ignore it altogether, acting as if Racism doesn’t exist. Some people find alternative explanations for things that are clearly Racist in nature, as if Racism is not real. Well, as a black man living in a society in which I am a visible minority, I can tell you that Racism is 100% real. I’ve been a victim of Racism. I can say with confidence and honesty that Racism has, at many points, negatively affected my life, the lives of my family members, and the lives of some of my friends. I can say with first-hand experience that Racism hurts. Racism has made me angry. Racism has made me sad. Racism still continues to leave me disappointed. And if I, or anybody else for that matter, states that someone has acted in a Racist way toward them, please don’t accuse that person of “pulling the race card”–that’s insulting, it’s belittling, it’s dismissive, it’s arrogant, it’s hurtful, and it’s very nearly as dehumanizing as the effects of Racism itself is on its victims. Racism is real. But here’s the thing, not talking about Racism is one of the main things keeping it alive. That’s why we must talk about it.
Ever been in a relationship and an issue manifests like say, you dislike your partner’s habit of not calling when they’re going to be late, but instead of talking about what’s bothering you, or what has become a problem in the relationship, you ignore it and act as if that problem doesn’t exist? What happens? Resentment starts to build, resulting in micro-aggressions, and soon a little problem becomes a big problem that pervades the entire relationship, threatening to destroy it (sometimes it does destroy it), the molehill becomes a mountain, and ultimately, the problem doesn’t get solved, and it doesn’t go away. It just gets bigger and bigger, you and your partner just become more and more disillusioned, and the relationship suffers. But then what happens when you talk about it openly, without letting your ego and sensitivities get in the way of honest discussion? Sometimes talking about the issue isn’t as hard as you think it will be. Sometimes you realize that your partner doesn’t mean to hurt you, or make you angry, make you sad, or to disappoint you. Sometimes you realize that what you thought was a problem was just a misunderstanding. And oftentimes, after talking openly and honestly, you come to a solution or a compromise that works for yourself and your partner and suddenly everything is all smiles, hugs, and kisses again.
So let’s talk about Racism. Yes, feelings probably will get hurt. Yes, there will probably be anger. Yes, there will probably be argument and disagreement. But unless we talk about Racism it won’t go away. It will fester, and we will fight, and their will continue to be physical, social, economic, and psychological violence. And society as a whole will suffer. But if we do talk about Racism, we give ourselves the opportunity of making it go away, or at the very least, turning a huge problem into a much much smaller problem, one that isn’t so damaging to society and to individual lives.
We can’t ignore Racism. Racism is happening. Racism is real. So, let’s talk about it. It may just bring us closer together.
It may just make things better.