Does Systemic Racism Exist in America? Don't Ask Me
If you ask me, American racism is very much alive and absolutely systemic. But please, don’t ask me. As a white, American male for whom our society was consciously designed, I am least equipped to know anything about it. So, too, I would argue, are other white males of the federal officeholder variety who, whether elected or appointed, exercise outsize political influence and power in our country.
Our current white male president who said, “I don’t believe that” when systemic racism was presented as a thing by a questioner at a roundtable discussion in Kenosha, WI last month.
Our current white male vice president who, in June of this year, said, “…we ought to set aside this talk … about institutional racism and institutional bias” in the context of a discussion on the topic.
Our current white male attorney general who said, “I think we have to be a little careful about throwing the idea of racism around. I don’t think it is as common as people suggest” in a recent television interview with CNN.
In addition to being white, cisgendered, male, and grown up, I also identify as a regular American citizen who happens to be politically interested and reasonably well-informed. I view our politics and current events through a particular, self-defined “conscious” lens as expressed in these pages (and in all exploitable cultural nooks and crannies). I am also one who has long advocated for the evolution of our society into one that actually works equally for all of us because it has long been obvious that whole groups of Americans — Black Americans in particular — have been articulating since our founding that our society does not work equally for them.
Rep. Charles Booker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, writing in The Nation on September 29: “As a Black man living in one of the most segregated cities in the country, found within one of the poorest states in the country, I see injustice every day I wake up. We know we are more likely to be seen as a deadly weapon before being seen as a human being. We know due process is something that never seems to come due for us. We know facts and evidence wont be used to protect us. We know the agencies and institutions can discriminate and hurt us with impunity.”
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, the day after George’s funeral, testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee: “I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain.”
Zack Linly, writing in The Root just the other day after a Black man in Beverly Hills was stopped by police for crossing in the crosswalk before the “walking man” light changed from red to white (jaywalking): “But white people never think they’re being racist. Instead, it often seems like they’re too damn busy being flabbergasted and appalled at the mere mention of racial bias to even consider for a moment that they might have responded to the situation differently if the person they were dealing with was white.”
As a conscious human who intends always to be more and more compassionate, I am inspired to listen to people in general. As a conscious politics practitioner looking at the question of systemic racism in America, I am equally inspired to listen to anyone who has something to say about their experience(s) of inequality. And, again, as a cisgendered, white, grown-up American male who, in spite of some discounts for being Jew-hated and gay-baited along the way (and in spite of actually feeling less free today than 20 or 30 years ago, but I digress), I know a thing or two about what it’s like to be free enough to pursue my happiness unimpeded. Indeed, freedom has become my paramount value and I want even more of it. Now.
It’s not that I’m altruistic or a bleeding-heart liberal, it’s that I’m a selfish bastard who wants what he wants...
Yet there is no way for me to ever fully experience freedom at any level so long as it is denied to anyone else because we are all connected. That’s why I want to do whatever I possibly can to contribute to evolving America such that it actually does work for everyone. It’s not that I’m altruistic or a bleeding-heart liberal, it’s that I’m a selfish bastard who wants what he wants and knows he can’t have it til everyone has it.
To my fellow Americans, then, who happen to be Black and to every single American of any stripe, variety, race, religion, creed, and/or gender who has been systematically kept from opportunities to pursue happiness and live freely, I’m listening. What’s it like to be you? What is needed for our society to work for you? What, if anything, can I do to make sure you feel as at home and as free as I? When, if at all, would you like my thoughts and opinions?
I ask because I see no faster way for me to get what I want.
NOTE: Photo from urban.org.
NOTE: Thanks for hearting, commenting, and sharing if, as, and when you might feel it.