Posted 6 years ago
I found this beat-up photo in a thrift store a while ago and just had to have it. Compared to "Caucasian" photos, you never see this old of a photo of African Americans without there being some other reason than just a family portrait. They must have been decently well-off, which was more common on the East Coast (I think the state was Massachusetts for this photo), otherwise we'd not have this minor piece of history because, frankly, a well-off African American was rare back then.
But I'm not here to talk about that tonight. Instead, I want to talk about racism. I'll be quite blunt with it, too. The blunt thing is, most people are racist. I'll explain how soon enough.
Legal U.S. Law once included the "One Drop Rule." In fact, some states had that till at least the 1980s. The One Drop Rule was, if you have one drop of "color" in you, you're not white. You can have the bone-structure and skin-tone and hair of a white person, but you're still considered black. Unlike South America, there was not an intermediate.
Such blatant racism has, in most of the public sphere, disappeared. Everything is integrated. Lynching is pretty much eradicated. The "n-word" is rarely used as an insult or hateful thing (I learned it in grade 4 when a black school-mate kept calling me it; amusingly enough, I'm mostly white. Go figure.)
Back in the time I like to study, I've come to two views on racism. One is, most of the people didn't think themselves racist. In fact, science was "proving" things about race and was doing quite an interesting job of speaking about it in scientific terms. It was scientific, not so much the social construct most professors would like to call it. In the beginning, and now, it was and is a social construct-- created by people to explain differences and boost themselves forward. But it evolved into a study of those differences and their effects, effects which themselves were actually related to a race's social standing. What science didn't understand was, the social implications of being and "improving" one race lead to other races seeming inferior. After all, it was mostly whites who got education. Not that they are better, but they received better education.
It really fell into a point I like to make, that intelligence is not based on how much you know. Neither is superiority nor inferiority, just like those should not be based on class/social standing nor on how long one lives, let alone on their skin colour. But, scientists and many sociologists didn't understand this and made it all an issue of science, rather than an issue of society (look at books/magazines of the time that pertain to black people and other people in the world). Thankfully, some members of society worked to disprove science.
The second part is, when race came into the public sphere, it became a novelty. People found it okay to joke about another race or treat it as inferior because they believed it was. After all, they saw other races as uneducated, uncultured, unclean, and many other things because, frankly, they were. They could not get as good an education (often, they were not allowed). They were not allowed to subscribe to the dominant culture. Clean was hard when you had not enough to buy soap and constantly worked to afford just to exist.
The novelty was, "Let's make fun of other peoples because they are different and are incapable of being civilised."
As such, things like "blackface comedy" arose-- a more "harmless" form of racist entertainment, albeit it did harm much as it further ingrained racism into the population. I've seen several minstrels. They can be anything from funny, to actually tragic (thus, at the very least, showing human emotion).
Another and most gruesome entertainment was physical harm onto other races. Lynching was heavy in the 1910s and 1920s. It was hardly illegal in some places and it was of such interest that many photos of it became postcards, which did become illegal to sell to the public. Some were horrified by the images and bought them to show the horrors. Others just wanted a memory of the event where they had fun. All parties were guilty of supporting the trade in killing by buying the cards or watching/participating in the events. But, it was technically a grotesque form of entertainment.
Flash forward 100 years and see that we still are racist. Most everyone is guilty of it. You won't want to admit it. You may refuse to believe me. That is of no concern to me. My concern is to give you the chance to see that you are racist, which means I give you the chance to work on yourself for a positive change.
Racism, among other vile things, is today mostly based on STEREOTYPES, GENERALISATIONS, AND ASSUMPTIONS based on RACE, SOCIAL-CLASS, the way one LOOKS or SOUNDS/TALKS, or what ones BELIEVES.
Your beliefs and attitudes towards others can be considered racist, discriminatory, bigot, &c. Another way to see if you are racist is, would you be completely fine with dating someone of any race (maybe even try it if you're single?)
The media, which I typically avoid for many reasons, further promotes these and feeds us them because we want them. Not all black guys can run/jump. Not every man with a strong Southern accent is a redneck. Not every woman in a low-cut top and short-shorts on the street is a whore. Not every straight-A girl in Cross Country who goes to Church every Sunday is an angel.
Many people think sexual abuse when they think of "altar boy and Catholic priest", but many altar boys have been nothing but respected by priests just like 99.99% of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the World are not terrorists.
Not everyone who calls himself a Christian is, and not every "pimped-out ride" holds a drug dealer or criminal.
Not everyone with "sleeves" or full-body tattoos is a hard-core rebel to society, and not every feminine-sounding male dressing strangely and displaying many odd hand-movements/mannerisms is gay.
Those were all common stereotypes, which lead to assumptions. Just because a number of people who act one way are a certain way does not mean that all who act one way are a certain way; thus, do not treat or act toward them as if they are. Instead, discover who each individual truly is. The individual is not the whole group.
I act "straight". I look "straight". My voice is deeper than most guys' my age. That does not mean I am straight. On the same note, that I am homosexual does not mean I am like the "stereotypical" homosexual.
That many black people are without jobs and in poor neighbourhoods does not mean that they are lazy and will not boost themselves forward. Rather, it is a product we create by our thoughts on their race, thoughts which have been historically totally incorrect. The product society has created creates more of the same damaging product, which we all continue to add to whether we do it willingly or by doing nothing to change it.
When people are trapped on the down-swing they typically stay on the down-swing because no one helps them up. A plane falling out of the sky struggles to regain altitude, let alone find stability. Unlike that plane, though, social issues can be helped. The issue is that we do not desire to help them. We do not want to get involved in that which we do not understand, that which we fear, and, may I go so far to say, we do not want to get involved in that which we do not believe in because we harbour negative and incorrect views. We would rather keep our comfortable status quo rather than work toward something better for everyone.
We may have equal rights under the law, but equal opportunity does not exist-- not unless you take this opportunity to make a difference in your community. It really starts with better race-relations. Even in heavily integrated cities is much segregation. People want to "stick to their own kind." I have seen racism even in multi-racial families and in inter-racial relationships. Be a friend to those around you. Do not expect them to be just like you.
I am in America, where many cultures have come together. As such, there will be many different views and ideas. Everyone is unique. Treat them as unique and as people with hopes and desires and emotions and thoughts. Our biggest issues as people are that we lack compassion and understanding and do not think about others. We do not consider the fact that other people have emotions. We hold too many selfish interests to have interests in benefiting others.
Break down your own barriers toward other people who are not similar to you. Barriers never got us anywhere. They only block us from going forward.
And, thus, racism and discrimination is still as strong as ever. It has merely hidden itself within our very minds and society.