Yes, there is systemic racism in America. The only people who deny this are those who also think gayness is a sickness and the poor are that way because they don’t work hard enough. And of course Donald J. Trump, who sees rapists and murderers hiding in the crowds of Hispanic refugees, terrorists among Muslim refugees, and good people among Scandinavians and Western Europeans wishing to immigrate.
There is systemic racism all over the globe and always has been. Phillip and Alexander of the Macedon Empire felt that Asians needed a dose of true civilization imposed on them for their own good. Today, Han Chinese look down on their 55+ minorities, Azerbaijanis find Armenians to be pathetic, and the Romani people (i.e. gypsies) are unwanted everywhere — even in homeland Romania.
It seems to be a human thing to be clannish and prejudiced about those who do not share a culture that includes language and customary rituals.
Then there is behavior/appearance as a trigger. I came to recently much dislike a Black man seated near me at Coffee Talk in Kaimuki. Nothing to do with his skin color. It was about his boom box playing at full volume a rapper whose every other word seemed to be m*****f*****r. Would I have been happier with a white guy playing some harmless hip hop? Was it also the Black man’s corn-row hair do?
I think we also have some residual racism in our reactions to how people dress, too. Pants worn down below the butt. Non-conformist shirts. Hats and caps. White people tend to judge Black and Hispanic peoples’ dress codes as weird.
Why so many people want to deny systemic racism in America puzzles me. It’s painted large in the Indian Trail of Tears and the Tulsa Race Massacre. It’s the real reasoning behind the Border Wall project. That’s not about Mexicans and other Hispanics stealing jobs. It’s about the fear that Hispanics will out-populate whites in a few years as their reproductive cycle beats ours. The ban on Middle East immigrants isn’t a fear of bombers but one of an Islamic presence challenging our Christian heritage. We don’t want to be France.
There was a typical incident recently in Pittsburgh. The Brazilian wife of the state’s lieutenant governor was in a grocery store and a white woman called her the “n” word and told her “you don’t belong here.” Yes, just one incident but one of the many we read about almost daily somewhere in America.
Why is that, exactly?
Maybe, in America, it is something the academic Robin Diangelo wrote about in her book White Fragility. Western individualism. “Individualism holds that we are each unique and stand apart from others, even those within our social groups.”
And “the racial ideology that circulates in the United States rationalizes racial hierarchies as the outcome of a natural order resulting wither from genetics or individual effort or talent. Those who don’t succeed [poor Blacks, Hispanics, etc.] are just not as naturally capable, deserving or hardworking.”
And Charles Mills in The Racial Contract says that white supremacy, far from being a myth, is actually “the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today.”
In other words, systemic racism has been around for a long, long time.
Denying its existence in this country just protects racial inequality.
We need to own up to it individually, even if our leaders will not.
I encourage your thoughtful comments.