No doubt, racism is systemic, but I often wonder where hating someone solely based on color or ethnicity all began. Today, I asked myself, what would racism look like if it were a human or physical being?
First I pictured this massive, ugly monster but that would be entirely too obvious; most of us would know to flee if we saw such a beast. Perhaps, racism would prefer a less suspect form–one that would allow it to remain undetected until those it wanted to influence had been completely overtaken. If racism were to select a human form, the perfect choice would be that of a baby. Most of us, even those who are not fond of children, would find it hard to revile a baby–especially a newborn. As I think, this seems to be exactly what has happened with less extreme, racist ideals. These ideals are passed to us just like newborns are passed amongst family and friends for all to enjoy. If you hold a baby long or often enough, you’re gonna get some type of baby juice on you and depending on the type, the residue can be hard to detect and wipe away.
As a child I was casually told numerous times that, “All White people lie.” The innocent explanation–I needed to know this in order to keep myself safe from the power of White people. People I trusted passed this “baby” to me. I took it, believing they knew best and ended up covered in a residue that pervaded who I am, causing me to have baseless biases towards White people.
Before I move on, I want to comment on the statement, “Black people can’t be racist.” From what I’ve read, some believe this because we don’t hold the greater share of power, prestige, property, and privilege in our country. Even if you say Black folks can’t be racist, we can definitely be prejudiced, discriminatory and antagonistic toward other races and ethnicities. Even within our own community, colorism has caused division. If we were in the position of power, would racism still exist? Probably.
See, before racism became systemic, it was personal and no global conversation or committee will bring a resolution. Until we each do the personal work of self-examination and reform, systemic racism will remain alive and well. It’s not the system. It’s you and I.
Image Copyright: ArpeggioAnge / 123RF Stock Photo