Understanding Racism

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I believe some people in our world today simply do not understand what racism or a racist really is or its characteristics. I’m going to try to explain this as elementary as I possible can in hopes that it may help someone better grasp the perceptions of their actions and accusations.

My reasons for attempting to explain racism, xenophobia and other forms of ethnic, cultural or racial hatred as simply as possible is in hopes that it helps those who seem to misunderstand it better understand those who understand it and who participate in it either as a victim or perpetrator of it.

If we are to move towards unity, civility, reconciliation and forgiveness we must sincerely and respectfully address the issue directly with complete honesty, empathy and compassion. How can you forget if you can’t forgive? How can you trust without respect? How can you reconcile love when you hate?

The subject of race and it’s relation with humanity and life is one that I admit I am not a scholar nor have any degrees in, but somehow I’ve been drawn to this subject for most of my life. It’s difficult for me to explain, but I’m sure you can relate, because it’s like when you have an absolute understanding of something you simply want to share it with others. Ministers may refer to their passion of Christ like a fire shut up in their bones. With all sincerity I honestly want people to understand what it is that racism is and what it does to those who employ it and those who are employed by it.

The hatred that we continue to see in virtually every aspect of our society today is ruining the world. The problem is extensive, the solution is quite simple, but the journey will be tenuous. I believe it can be done, but only if we begin with a clear understanding of the source of the problem.

What is racism?

Racism is the belief that differences in human character, ability of a particular race is superior or inferior to others.

Now my analytical definition of racism as I conclude is when you adopt/incorporate an underlying assumption that one race is superior to all others. It lends yourself to accepting the characteristic of social schizophrenia, psychological paranoia and/or an inferiority complex.

Who is a racist?

As I’ve said many times in previous conversations and writings it is my belief that anyone can be a racist. Racism is not what it is. To make it simple, racism is not racist because anyone can be a racist regardless of their race.

It has to be said to allow me to validate something real quick before I continue.

It is incorrect and unfair to blame Caucasians (White People) for racism. If you think before making such an accusation even in private thought you have to justify that as a racist thought or perception. If this was true, then how do you account for the Whites who fought for freedom, justice and racial equality? Caucasians as a whole are not inherently racist, despite the percentage of those who promote it. To make it plain, one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.

With that said, neither are Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Pacific Islanders, Natives or any nation, tribe, culture and/or racial group inherently racist, despite the acts of those within their race. There are people of all races who are racist. There are people who have incorporated racist things into their life and psyche regardless how subtle. You don’t have to be racist. Understand what it is?

There are many people who misunderstand or choose to ignore this in efforts to gain some type of personal, political, economic or social upper-hand. Listen to what is being said here when you think or ask the question, “Who is a racist?”

When you are in the privacy of your thoughts do you conform to the accepted perceptions of your racial environment? When you see a person of a different race than you what do you immediately think? I’m not seeking an answer, so do not consider the perceptions of others, just be honest.

The racist has an agenda. Convince the oppressed to remain silence and accept the distortion and prevention of the truth being employed at any cost.

So we have the charges of racism buzzing around the globe like bees, stinging us with the ugly bitterness, pollinating or fear of the unknown or misunderstood and the hurt that often accompanies those who are not acknowledged or respected. “You’re a racist.” “You’re a reverse racist.” “You’re a bigot.” Well I say you’re uninformed.

My intentions are to write in detail about this subject, most likely not in a place such as a blog. So as I attempt to abbreviate this article, I leave you with this message.

If we are to end this thing called racism we must understand what it is and how to identify it. Not for the sake of saying you’re wrong and I’m right, but to tackle it head on. Racism can be found among the most liberal to the most indignant conservative and even within ourselves when we’re honest.

Let us work together to stop the mischaracterizations, false assumptions, misperceptions you apply to people, both public and private, intentionally or unintentionally. Think about what your thoughts, ideas and suggestions say about you. Why do you get so upset over certain subjects? What you do not understand about someone? How others arrive at the conclusions they do?

Just because someone mentions race doesn’t mean that they’re a racist, even if you do not understand what they’re talking about. Listen for the context of what they are saying. We’re influenced by our social environments.

If you have had minimal to no contact with people who are not of your race for an extended period of your life and you say something to or about someone of a different race that is deemed offensive, it doesn’t mean that you’re a racist. You may be racially insensitive due to a lack of exposure to the race of the offended party, but if your intent wasn’t to offend it doesn’t mean that you’re a racist.

So when you receive criticism for making a racist statement you must align that up against the context of your life. You may not think of yourself as a racist and you may not be one, but consider the thin line between being a racist and racially unaware due to lack of racial or cultural socialization. It may be due to the demographics of your community, friends or associations. If this is true then you should really consider socializing yourself more. Extend your boundaries beyond the narrow confines of social comfort bound to race.

For many minorities, race and racism is a fact of life. No matter how much you seek to avoid it or ignore it, it’s always makes its presence known given the right situation. For those who say they are not racist, or don’t see race or colorblind I ask you to understand this. I ask you to reference a previous blog post titled “Empathy is not Sympathy” to help make the point.

The same goes for minorities who experience racism. It doesn’t matter that we have been the victims of racism so often, because it doesn’t justify being or acting as a racist in return. It may be equal, but unfair. When someone approaches you with a question or subject regarding race don’t be defensive. Consider it to be a welcomed opportunity for both of you to learn something about each other instead of pointing the finger of blame.

When you experience diversity, you begin to experience the vast wonderfulness and boundless potential of the world. I’m telling you that this is the key. The door is right in front of us, all we have to do is open it. One person can’t do it alone, it takes you.

I know there are several references and inspirations to choose from, but I ask that you simply take the time to read, listen, view and research these in addition to your consideration of what was briefly said here.

I appreciate those who took the time to read and consider what I have to say on this subject. Please feel free to share it with others. Thank you.

References & Inspirations
Merriam-Webster  – “Definition of Racism
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 03/03/1968 “Unfulfilled Dreams
Global Issues – 12/20/2004 “Racism
Talking Points Memo DC – 05/28/2009 “Tancredo: Sotomayor Is Member of Latino KKK
SPLC: Intelligence Report – Summer 2009 “Into the Wild
Kansas City Star – 05/28/2009 “Gingrich says Sotomayor Guilty of New Racism
University of Dayton – “Defining Racism
Barack Obama – 03/18/2008 “A More Perfect Union
Tolerance.org – “Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry
Thoughts, Ideas & Suggestions – 01/01/2009 “Your Friendly Neighborhood Negro
American Rhetoric: Jesse Jackson – 07/19/1988 “Keynote Speech at Democratic National Convention

4 thoughts on “Understanding Racism

  1. Humans offer a wide array of goodness, and unfortunately badness. I’ve always judged people on how they treat me and how I observe them treating others.

    I also believe the majority of us display various forms of racism. If only each ones of us would engage ourselves with reflection of our own on thoughts and behaviors, then working to move ourselves to a new standard – thus individual behaviors can collectively change a society.

    Well done Tim!

  2. A fine well-thought and well written post. If we could all set aside mistrust and revenge mentality I think it would mean the end of racism.

    Going by his words it seems to me that Dr. King’s idea that African Americans should be recognized as individuals. I don’t mean that anyone’s race should be ignored. I mean that it is demeaning of a person to judge them first by their color. Providing a detriment thru the racist policies of decades ago is wrong to that person. But providing a benefit to a person based on their color, as practiced today, is doing wrong to them as well. You are in essence saying that they couldn’t succeed otherwise.

    1. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one person I’ve invested a lot of time studying and understanding his philosophy along with others. Many of his points can be seen beyond the realm of race and applied into other aspects of everyday life. It was he who turned me on to other theologians and philosophers or thinkers beyond race. The issue of race is a confusing one, because for some people it’s not something they’ve had to deal with, but for others it is something they have to deal with everyday. I just try to find the common ground. I’ve had Black people like myself go after me for “Giving in to the man” and some thank me for saying it. I’ve had White people who were uncomfortable talking about race feel more comfortable talking about it. I’ve been called racist when I’m likely the one to defend them when someone calls them racist. It just takes time to understand. This is one issue I actually enjoy talking about. 🙂

      I know that you’re not a bad guy. We have more in common than not. You’ll be surprised. I may be liberal on some issues, but that allows me to consider others more freely. It doesn’t mean I always agree with them, but I never want to discriminate against them. We just disagree. There’s only a few things that I find no room for compromise on. Those are the topics we’ve disagreed upon before, but it’s alright. 🙂

      BTW – Off Subject: Who are you going for in the NBA Finals (L.A. Lakers or Orlando Magic)?

      Until we comment again. Enjoy 🙂

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