I wish there was no racism…
But there is. And its abuses run so deeply that they nudge and hurt and anger us often. Some of us feel it from the moment we open our eyes for the day, until we lie down at night. Sometimes, a perceived slight will fuel outrage and a, sometimes disproportionate, response — microaggressions matter. Sometimes, it is driven by blatant bigotry, which can become normalized without conscientious & persistent repudiation of it. Sometimes, the narrative is created and people fail to connect the historic dots, so it’s not even immediately recognized as being wrong — or the person insulted is dismissed as being hyper-sensitive.
This is why an athlete can be complimented for his skills by being called a “beast”, and, unless called out, the narrative is deemed accurate and innocent — no racist intent, right?
The normalization of negative imagery and narrative often appears because someone fails to understand how perception works (or they totally get it and hopes you don’t). The creator of the insult might not not have historical context -or they just don’t care and think others won’t, either. That’s how a product designer can sell their “fashion” to a company that is built on U.S. values marketing — American; Eagle — and think that no one will compare a cool bracelet with a horrible device from our past.
This is why adorning a cute child (a golden asset in marketing) cannot be used to perpetuate a racist narrative by adorning him with attire that demeans him, and those who look like him. History tells those who care to understand it that it’s not OK to call Black people monkeys (panthers send another message, clearly). Those who don’t care fail to see the big deal.
No, mother of aforementioned child, while it’s great to see browner faces in marketing & media, it’s NOT ok to collect that check while making your child the butt of a racist message. The history of that narrative is so long, it’s a wonder that you (and the stylist) didn’t know how bad a look it would be to have your beloved associated with a monkey. Many of us have seen racist messages too often to not recognize them when we see them.
Mom, you live in a country that has a number of immigrants. Surely, you/they have been subjected to some racist slights at some point, right? At least you’ve heard about what others have experienced? Yes? Maybe you/they nervously laughed or simply dismissed the incident(s) (go along to get along). That is the crux of the problem. You don’t “get over” racism. Racism is not joke and won’t just fade away without sustained repudiation — at every level of society. To ignore racism is to perpetuate racism and allow it to remain part of the global fabric.
Mom, H&M, world, it’s NOT ok to drive a message that carries a painful descriptor against Black lives into the 21sr Century. Shame on those who think a little picture doesn’t have big consequences.
Germany, home of some of the worst modern-day “ethnic/religious cleansing” condemns imagery of its most vile history. But, some folks on the global stage forget global histories and acts that have defiled and disrespected people because we haven’t placed a stake in the ground to say it is WRONG. Or, perhaps, they think it’s now ok poke fun at it — it isn’t.
Trump, We CLEARLY see Your Racism
The global responses to racism, thanks to social media, can be fast and furious. So, the global outrage over a child in a hoodie has pivoted to an adult in the Oval Office.
Many have tried to attribute the racist antics of this president to those around him (the Steves). however, we have had the racist words coming out of the president’s mouth, without script, enough to know that it’s from the heart. These words aren’t the first deplorable comment from this president. And, after those What other country would excuse the garbage that spews from the mouth of their leader? What true American would let the blatant bigotry of an elected official continue without speaking out — loudly?
No, Haitian-America Utah Congresswoman Mia Love, an apology from the president, for saying what’s in his heart won’t fix this or make it better. He said it. He believes it. Besides, history shows that he seldom apologizes anyway — his words are his, even when he contradicts himself. And, given his countless lies, who would believe him, anyway? How do you forgive the unforgivable? To think a simple apology is sufficient is an insult to you and your heritage.
No, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, he is who he is. And putting you in the front row of a tax bill victory lap was pure optics. He didn’t “overlook” shaking your hand, he choose to not shake your hand. You helped write a bill that is heartless to the least of us — and you’re happy and feel validated by the grand old party that makes racism its message? Even after you have been on record sharing the racism you have experienced, first-hand, by staff that is supposed to protect you, and you still don’t get it? He didn’t shake your hand and he meant what he said about those whose ancestors got you here. Your service to him was already rendered to his satisfaction.
And Raj Shah, it’s to be expected that a racist perpetrator would find a person of color to defend his racism. Much like Roy Moore & the present brought women to defend them. That’s the oldest trick in the book. Look around you in the White House — you are a rare presence and that’s not a good thing. As a child of immigrants, you should be most offended. Born in America, you have seen racism. You should know better. He sees you as “not like the others.” That should anger you, not make you feel exceptional.
Rep. Love, Sen. Scott & Raj Shah, you should be especially concerned about those in your party, and your peers or constituents (particularly, those who didn’t vote for you based upon your skin). Many of them agree with your president’s views. Oh, you are a “good GOP” is your retort? #GetOut
The presidents usual response is to deny he said it — any of it. Even if there is a recording of it, he will deny it. Lies are his tools of defense. Keep lying and somebody will believe — and those are the only people he cares about. He’s made over 2,000 lies in a year. How many are acceptable to you?
I quit you first!
And, of course, when he knows that he would see an unprecedented repudiation by visiting London, he decides to blame the President Obama (aka the Black president) for the location of an embassy that Obama had nothing to do with. Our best & closest ally hates us. That’s not good.
I wish racism didn’t exist — but it does. It took global outrage to destroy Hitler’s reign of terror. It took united voice — on both sides of the wall — to take down what separated East and West Berlin. If more americans knew & respected our history, we’d realize that we have never been in the business of building walls. It took protests, boycotts and a global movement to dismantle apartheid in South Africa.
The Task At Hand
Racism will require similarly, sustained battles, if we want to defeat it. But, it starts by dismantling it in all areas where it appears. Those guilty by association and who enable the actor, with undeserving platitudes and endorsements through her/his vote don’t get a pass, either. If it starts at the top, that’s where the dismantling must focus.
Through every slight, assault, insult, abuse that Black people and other people of color have faced, we have seen perseverance get rewarded. We have won much, while still fighting on many fronts. We have taken negatives and used them to create positives for ourselves and, by extension, others. We are amazing, and that is what scares those who are not smart, talented, compassionate, creative. Our shield of brilliance intimidates some folks, but we will continue to shine.
Through tears, we shine.
Through fears, we shine.
Through pains, we shine.
Through stains, we shine.
Through lies, we still rise.
We will shine — and no history-blind company or marketer, no racist president, no racist-loving political party, no white supremacist voter will stop us.
You are either for or against racism — choose and defend your choice wherever you go and in whatever you do. Note, though, if you’re for it, you are grossly outnumbered.