According to Eduardo Bonilla-Silva a famous sociologist, there are four major ways in which accusations of racism are dismissed today. The first one is called abstract liberalism. This idea links the other three and is the most important. It is not liberalism as in liberal vs. conservative. It’s using liberal ideas of meritocracy and equality to justify racist social outcomes. For example, people will say that affirmative action is not a good idea because it creates an unequal footing giving people of color an unfair advantage. This opinion blatantly ignores the history of the united states. Throughout every aspect of American history, people of color have been the objects of the unjust enrichment of white lives, most notably, slavery, Jim Crow, purposeful systemic exclusion from government programs including but not only The New Deal. Today we see housing discrimination, hyper-incarceration, job discrimination, unequal segregated schools, unequal pay, to name a few systems of oppression. The abstract liberalist view, in order to function, needs to wholly ignore this American history. Rather decreeing that white on people of color oppression ended with the civil rights movement. This is most certainly not the case. Racism has morphed to fit our times. What is clear is justice rather than equality is needed to end racism.
I question what divides truth from belief. In the undertones of both words at least, I find a distinct difference. When one uses a word like truth, the connotation of discussion is understood. It is supposedly based in fact and lived experiences, and therefore it is given integrity and is far less contestable. Belief, on the other hand, does not carry this weight. Less contestable, one is entitled to their belief(s). It seems to me that this is the difference between being white or being a person of color in this country. Whites have the choice to believe or not to believe in racism. If they do believe in it, then they get to decide how far-reaching it is, where it comes into play not only in their own lives, but in the lives of oppressed people of color.
Reading about injustice of any nature will invariably make you mad. It would be fair that this is in some ways the point. Reading Joe Feagan’s Racist America has made me angry. Racism stirs my emotions for sure. I can’t seem to push this anger in any one direction. The omnipresent, ever-changing nature of racism makes it nearly impossible to direct this energy. It’s eternally frustrating. I want to pin racism down and punch it until its head becomes the consistency of pulpy orange juice. Of course, this is impossible. So, who takes the blame? All those who originally manifested racist viewpoints are dead. Not to say that people don’t actively perpetuate these issues today and have for the last four hundred years of history on this continent. Who can I turn towards to throw my rhetoric at and all my will power towards? I think this quest for a physical manifestation from which all racism stems from is precisely what gets in my way. Racism is everywhere winding its way into almost all interactions. So, I suppose the next question is, is racism the root or result of an idea? By “fighting” racism are we simply treating the symptoms and not going after the disease. Is there even one root cause of racism? All these questions persist moving into the second week. I hope to at least bring some answers.
I wrote this as a response to a friend of mine’s post. Since the Inauguration, I’ve been quite unsettled. I used as backing some the material from the readings as well as conversations I’ve had with my mentor, Mauricio. Continue reading