Powerful influences in society have programmed most of us to think a certain way about racism and about black people in particular. The following section may shed some light on those frequently asked questions and comments about racism.
Why do you guys make everything about race?
Unfortunately almost everything in this country is a result of racism or is influenced by it. We live in a society dominated by White Supremacy. Those who carefully study racism will understand that every system in America is influenced by racism/white supremacy. Those who point out racism are doing so because they understand the vastness of the problem today. Black people are more likely to recognize this because we are directly influenced by it.
Why are we only talking about racism against blacks and not other races?
Systemic Racism (racism that exists in systems) affects black people differently than it does other races. Racism oppresses black people in almost every American System (i.e criminal-justice, education, entertainment, media, etc). Furthermore, racism varies by time period, methods and severity between the races. Asking for justice for all races within systems uniquely designed to oppress Black people is not helpful; this can actually be counterproductive as doing so distracts from the specific problems that need to be targeted. If we were addressing prejudice and individual racism (i.e whites saying bad things about minorities or inflicting violence on a minority simply because they are a different race) then it would be more realistic to address racism against all races all at once. Though, there are some intersections between racism, attempting to address different types of racism against different types of people can be counter-productive until the systems are fully changed.
When you talk about racism, you are promoting racism.
To point out injustice does not mean that you are promoting injustice. It is quite the opposite. Lack of awareness or lack of actions to prevent oppression actually increases the probably that oppression will continue. This can be seen throughout history (traditional slavery lasted over 250 years, it would not have stopped on its own or by “not talking about it.”) Discussing racism actually helps to bring awareness, which can possibly help alleviate the problem rather than promote it. (For example, discussing domestic violence does not make it more common. Instead, discussing it can help to raise awareness so that more can be done about the issue.)
Why can Jews (and other races) get it together and not blacks?
Each race in this country has been impacted differently by racism. The uniqueness of black oppression is that black people still live in the countries that they are oppressed in. Despite this, black people have made a great deal of progress in this country while under oppression. This is often not recognized because of the perpetuation of stereotypes in the media about Black people. To truly understand the progression of blacks people in this country, one has to fully understand racism including the covert and overt attacks against blacks (i.e implementation of drugs in black communities, unequal incarceration, the assassination of black leaders, the influence of the media on the black community).
I (as a white person) have experienced racism.
What you experienced is prejudice, not racism. Racism requires a network of systems designed to oppress a group of people; such a network of systems does not presently exist for white people (see Definitions page). Prejudice relates to a situation where someone judges a person based on the color of their skin (or other characteristics). This type of situation could lead to someone acting on that preconceived notion (discrimination).
It is important to understand that when black people (or other minorities) have prejudices against whites, it is not always based on stereotypes but is often based on historical and factual history. There is a clear reason for prejudice against whites, whether one believes it is justifiable or not. What may be helpful in understanding the black experience is to recall the instances where you felt discriminated against and imagine having to go through that experience every single day, in addition to knowing that your entire race has been oppressed on a large scale for centuries simply based on the color of their skin.
There is hardly any racism today.
This is a common misconception based on intentional attempts to hide or dismiss modern racism. What may be helpful in understanding how racism exists is in learning the history of racism from America’s beginning to the present day. Unfortunately, many people do not know the true history of racism because our views have been manipulated by primary school education and the media. For instance, most Americans believe that everything changed for black people since the Civil Rights Movement. However, only a few legal actions (i.e Voting Rights, De-segregation laws) were taken to promote the progression of black people in this country. After the Civil Rights Movement, black leaders fought even harder to gain rights for black people because they recognized that there were still many different systems that were keeping black people oppressed. Much of the racism that exists today is in fact covert (or hidden). If you carefully research, you will find that institutional racism still exists on a large scale.
Racism is over, we had a Black President!
Having a black president does not change the fact that racism still exists. Racism exists in systems that oppress black people so much that even having a black president (especially if that leader does not attempt to change these systems) means little in terms of changing systemic racism. Based on the hate-filled racist reactions surrounding Obama’s election, it is clear that positive feelings for black people are not universal. In addition, even those who voted for Obama may still feel negative sentiments against black people as a group, but hold him as an exception.
Slavery is over, get over it.
Black people have been slaves in this country longer than they have been “free citizens.” The psychological damage that was done is unspeakable. Traditional slavery in America was unique to other forms of indentured servitude throughout world history due to its physical harshness and psychological manipulation. Even so, black progress would look much differently if no further actions were taken to oppress black people following traditional slavery. However, this was not the case and there were countless large scale and small scale actions taken to keep black people oppressed not just in this country but worldwide. These actions did not come solely from race-based groups like the Ku Klux Klan but also through the actions of the government. It should also be noted that the 13th amendment abolished slavery except as punishment for crime. Slavery and its effects still exist today in many forms.
Slavery is nothing compared to the Jewish Holocaust.
Slavery and the Jewish Holocaust were both atrocities. Without heartlessly saying that one act of genocide is worse than the other, we must understand that the majority of us see the Jewish Holocaust as worse because we were allowed to learn about the events fully but not about our own holocaust during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Slavery lasted for centuries while the Holocaust lasted for less than a decade. Millions of black people died on the way to America and were seen as nothing but lost property. Many people do not understand the tortuous and gruesome nature of slavery because we were not taught about it in schools. Furthermore, the Jewish Holocaust could not have happened if not for the creation of white supremacy that existed long before the Jewish Holocaust. There are also numerous connections between black oppression and the Jewish Holocaust, including Hitler complementing members of the USA’s Eugenics Board on their attempts to exterminate black people and incorporating their tactics into his own Final Solution.
If blacks did not ____ then this would never happen.
The descriptions that usually fill the blank of these statements are stereotypes created long ago to justify the oppression of black people (i.e blacks are stupid, immoral, lazy, criminals). These stereotypes were used to control the masses’ perception of black people so that oppressing and fearing them would feel normal. This continues today. Furthermore, it does not matter what “kind” of black person you are, or how assimilated you are into white society, it is still possible and inevitable that you will be the victim of racism.
I’m not racist.
Racist does not equal prejudice. Everyone in this country is prejudice. We all have a set of beliefs about a group of people based on their race alone. We cannot avoid this prejudice because we are born into a society that continuously sends messages that promote racism. People are prejudice at different levels and degrees, but that does not negate the fact that everyone in this country is prejudice, so much so that even many black people are prejudice against themselves. The best we can do is work actively against this prejudice by critically examining what we hear, think, and say.
I don’t see color.
This phrase is often used by those who try to ignore racism or portray that they do not participate in racism or prejudice. However, there is no possible way that you can avoid seeing color. You can do your best to ignore it, but somewhere inside you, you recognize the color of someone’s skin and you make assumptions based on this. This is natural, because we live in a society that teaches us color prejudice. You cannot unlearn seeing color. You can learn to treat people equally despite their differences as best you can, but you cannot “unsee” color or race.
Black Panthers and Malcolm X taught hate, they were racist.
Most of what we learn about Black Leaders is incomplete or false. The images of many black leaders, such as Malcolm X or the Black Panther Party were altered in order to justify their persecution and to twist their true message. Even Martin Luther King Jr.’s image was tarnished at some point and his message altered by the media and the education system in order to change our perception. If you really want to understand what these groups were about, you should watch a documentary or read a book about them. The Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, and the like did not preach violence but they believed in self-defense against the brutality of black people. Many leaders (including non-violent ones such as Martin Luther King Jr.) were persecuted and assassinated by government agencies. There is clear evidence of this fact. However, much of what we have learned about our Black leaders from mainstream sources is misinformation or incomplete information.
What about Black on Black crime?
If you look at statistics black on black crime rates are almost the same as white on white crime rates. However, the “black on black” crime image is exaggerated in order to divert from racial issues such as police brutality. Black people are often seen as the problem which takes the focus off of the actual cause of our problem. It is also extremely rude and insensitive to bring up issues of black on black crime, following the discussion of police brutality against black people.
There are more black people in prison because blacks are more likely to commit crimes
The media has made this seem like a fact, but it is actually misleading propaganda. Black people are a majority in the prison system. Most people in prison are there for drug related crimes. There are plenty of statistics that show that black people are more likely to be convicted of crimes than whites who commit the exact same offense. If you look even deeper, you will find covert attempts to increase the incarceration of black people despite lack of increase in crime rates (i.e War on Drugs). There is also evidence to show that the CIA has played a part in introducing drugs to black communities immediately proceeding the War on Drugs.
“He was a thug, that’s why he got arrested/shot. “
“Lazy”, “immoral”, “criminal” and “stupid” are all stereotypes about black people that were designed almost a century ago to justify our oppression. These stereotypes continue to be used to justify racism and are perpetuated through the media.
What we must understand is that we have been programmed to think this way. If you want to learn more, then do your own research open your mind and understand these things before responding to them. We are here to guide you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments regarding these responses.