RACISM | DIVERSITY

Upping the Ante on Anti-Racism

Four stories on racism in America

Sharon Hurley Hall
Sep 3, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Guillaume Issaly on Unsplash

If you’ve been Black all your life, as I have, you know that racism isn’t going away anytime soon. If you’re a white anti-racist, you may know this too, or you’re catching on fast. Every day, we all have a choice about whether we’re working against racism or overtly or tacitly supporting it. And if you live in America, that stark choice is facing you in November.

I don’t live in America (and believe me, there are days I’m pretty glad about that), but my sister, daughter and other relatives do. That’s just one of the reasons why I care about what happens to BIPOC people there. (The other, of course, is our shared heritage of enslavement and discrimination). So I was interested to read this piece from Marley K.: Dear White People, Your Second Test Is Here.

In it the author sets out the stark choice that US voters face, between humanity and white supremacy. As Marley K. points out:

“Black people are getting ready to see whether those Black squares that took over social media profile pictures, BLM social media hash tags, and fancy buzzwords like “amplifying Black voices,” convert into votes against racism, extreme authoritarianism, and White Supremacy in 2020.”

Like many Black people, the author isn’t hopeful about the results of the November election, but she warns that no matter the result, Black people and their demands for equity won’t fade away quietly. I totally agree.

Gaslighting takes many forms. One of the worst is saying that you don’t see color. The first time I heard this (well, actually something similar which I’ll write about another time), I had no idea how to respond. I couldn’t articulate the many ways in which that statement felt wrong to me. If it happened today, I could draw on this article by Layla Saad: ‘I Don’t See Color’ Is an Act of Racial Gaslighting.

An excerpt from her book Me and White Supremacy, this article ably explains the many reasons why not seeing color erases both Black people’s identity and their ability to counter racist behavior:

“Color blindness is also an act of gaslighting. It is a cruel way of making BIPOC believe that they are just imagining the way they’re treated is because of their skin color, thus keeping them in a position of destabilization and inferiority.”

After reading this article, you’ll want to add her book to your reading list, as I have.

It happens like clockwork. First, police kill a Black person, usually a Black man. Then the racists look for all the reason why they were right to do it.

Don’t think this is racism? Check out the difference in coverage of unarmed Black men who are mown down, and white men carrying assault weapons who are somehow apprehended alive.

Jeanette C. Espinoza tackles this subject in The Problematic Meaning Behind the “Let’s Wait to Hear All The Facts” Statement.

“When an unarmed Black person is shot, instead of an immediate outcry against the police who made the tragic — and often racist — decision to use deadly force, the incident is generally followed with inquiries like: What happened BEFORE the shooting? Did he have a record? Was he resisting arrest?”

As the author says, this approach condones the killing. And that’s just plain wrong. If we’re getting all the facts about young Black men, let’s get all the facts about young white ones, too. And if prior events don’t matter for young white men, then they shouldn’t be a factor for young Black ones.

Sam McKenzie Jr. asks a pertinent question: Does being anti-racist mean you’re anti-American too?

As he points out, America was founded on racism, and not a lot has changed. That’s how it looks to me, too, and it’s why so many are demanding racial and social justice, decades after the (first) Civil Rights Movement, centuries after supposed liberation, and even more centuries after the organized enslavement that started all of this.

McKenzie says:
“The systems in America still work as designed.
America has made changes, but only after intense pressure and with the least possible alterations to the supreme state of whiteness. Even with its improvements, America keeps racism updated.”

The question is: what are we going to do about it? That brings us back to where I started: with Americans facing a choice in November 2020. The results will show what was important to the majority. I hope it’s a vote for equality, but I’m really not sure it will be.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, September 2020

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Sharon Hurley Hall

Written by

Pro writer (B2B/B2C). Antiracism writer. Co-host: Introvert Sisters podcast. Global citizen. She/her. Sharon’s Anti-Racism NL: https://antiracism.substack.com/

Reading Rhombus

A journal curating diverse stories from the four corners of Medium.

Sharon Hurley Hall

Written by

Pro writer (B2B/B2C). Antiracism writer. Co-host: Introvert Sisters podcast. Global citizen. She/her. Sharon’s Anti-Racism NL: https://antiracism.substack.com/

Reading Rhombus

A journal curating diverse stories from the four corners of Medium.

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