Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tuesday at 29

I look back and recognize that I have changed a lot in the past eight years. I think this is a good thing. Despite spending a large portion of my time feeling anxious and depressed about everything, I do like who I am. That's a good feeling.

One of the things that changed between the eighth grade and now is how I feel about racism. I guess I didn't think it was a big deal back in the day. Specifically: I thought that individuals were probably racist but that this wasn't a serious problem.

Here's where I'm at now. Of course, I will continue to learn. But dang, I don't actually care about your individual racism. Like, whatever, you do you buddy. But what I do care about is the systemic racism that we have baked into our society. We, err, aren't set up to give everybody equal opportunities for success. This is *probably* a function of everybody's low-key racism in action, and *hopefully* not a function of a villainous cabal of billionaires (looking at you, Bloomberg).

I guess I just don't understand why

  1. We're having such a hard time convincing our white friends that systemic racism is real
  2. We're having a hard time convincing ourselves we should do something about it
Like, what the fetch is so hard about this? "Oh hey, we incarcerate black guys at an incredibly disproportionate rate, what's that about?" and "Oh wow, we give black guys way harsher sentences than we do white kids. Why is that?"

I think this makes sense when you take a historical look at things. We spent hundreds of years convincing ourselves that black people were less-than-us because it justified slavery. People can convince themselves of whatever they want to when it makes them a dollar. We then had a big fight about whether or not slavery was a good thing. Some people died I guess. But, shoot, losing the war didn't change the South's mind about stuff, it just wrecked their little country. 

We then spent a long time legally treating black people like garbage. Then we made that mostly illegal, but that didn't change anybody's mind-- it just sorta changed their actions. 

So yeah, when you look at a system that recently treated black people as legally less important, it's easy to see how the inhabitants of that system still carry vestigial ideas around with them. 

The evidence is just pretty overwhelming. And I don't understand why people get all defensive about this. "Yes but my great grandfather was a slave owner and was not a villian". Listen lady, nobody cares one bit about your grandfather. What we care about is systemic racism and what we are doing today to not be super villains. Let's make the world a better place and stop getting defensive about your racist grandpa, k? Nobody cares. Really. Seriously. Just stop. 

It's okay that we're calling you racist. It's fiiiiiiiine. Nobody likes you less because of it (jk we sorta do). What we really want, though, is to fix the system so we can live in a more just society. Does that hurt you at all? Nope, sure doesn't. Is it better for you? Absolutely.

So hey, it's okay that your grandpa was a racist super villain. It's completely irrelevant. Let's just fix the problems we have now because of the issues we created in the past. 

I feel like I generally do a decent job of understanding other people's view points. I'm really struggling to understand the fragile white resistance to fixing systemic racism though. Like seriously, what do you have to lose here? Why are you afraid of not incarcerating black men at a disproportionate rate? Help me see?

Anyways y'all should clearly vote for Elizabeth Warren. Peace. 

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Total agreement here.

Looking back to my junior high days, I don't think I really thought racism was a big deal, either. I certainly knew it existed and that it was wrong. But I guess the way things like the Civil War and the civil rights movement were presented in school kinda made me think racism was something that belonged more to the past than anything. No one overtly said racism was done away--but no one overtly said racism wasn't done away, either. Never mind the fact that in school around me, people talked about the Latinx kids like they were less. I didn't make the connection. I didn't see systemic racism, even though it was all around. Racism had to do with black people in a bygone century.

Thankfully I've woken up, at least a little bit, to the harsh reality. I still have things to learn. And I think--perhaps too optimistically--maybe more people don't care because they, too, are simply in that eighth-grade state of mind. Nobody told them it was still an issue, and they didn't make the connection. Regardless, everyone has work to do. It's not about Joe Blow's racist grandpa. Your grandparents' actions aren't your own. But we do have to deal with the consequences of those actions and see that we don't repeat the cycle.