Tag Archives: Police Brutality

Defeating Five Centuries of Racism Is Hard Work

7 Jun

 

No child is born a racist, but every child—from Toronto to Tokyo to Tasmania—is born into a world containing messages about race that were used to justify 500 years of colonialist white supremacy. Before the civil rights and decolonization movements that emerged in the decades after World War II, such messages were explicit. Progress has been made, but we are far from finished. Just watch people flip out over the idea of changing the story of Santa Claus into a penguin to be more universally inclusive. (I’ve yet to hear anyone who steadfastly claims that a Black Santa Claus is historically inaccurate argue with the same fervor against illustrated bibles teaching kids that Adam and Eve were white.) Or listen to the far more depressing defenses of the London School of Economics paper that argued white and Asian women are “naturally” more attractive than Black women. Arguments for The Bell Curve and its controversial author are in no way difficult to find. And it gets worse from there. Much, much worse.

Hence the ongoing protests that have blossomed on every continent on earth.

White people of today didn’t create colonialism and its pseudoscience of race. But we reveal how deeply we have come to believe in it if we can’t handle the idea of seeing the system change. I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again: How many of us are willing to strive for racial justice beyond the boundaries of our comfort zones? How many of us are willing to listen more than we speak? How many of us are willing to endure this as often as necessary?

I don’t want to take up too much space at a time that truly belongs to people directly targeted by racism. Police are far more likely to treat me like Amy Cooper than Breonna Taylor. I am grateful to those who have done the hard—often personally painful—work of arguing why and how we can work to expunge the poison from the system. Here is a tiny selection of those who have helped to open my mind:

We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Other People’s Children by Lisa Delpit
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Want wit along with wisdom?
How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

Want something more academic?
Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele
The Lies That Bind by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Online resources are almost countless, but for now I’ll just say thanks to this news source and this call to action.

History changes when you change the perspective. And that is the only way to change the present or the future: