In the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen two very public displays of blatant racism. We witnessed a white youtube executive profile a black software engineer outside an apartment building in SanFranscisco where the engineer was visiting a friend. The exec not only profiled the black man but proceeded to call the police. See the video of the interaction below. The executive, Christopher Cukor, has since apologized.
WARNING THERE IS SOME ADULT LANGUAGE.
In another public display of racism, #NotMyAriel was trending on twitter on the FOURTH OF JULY! Let that one sink in. White people didn’t respond well to Disney casting actress and singer, Halle Baily as Ariel in the upcoming live-action “Little Mermaid” film.
Disney “defended” their choice after protests arose due to them choosing a black star to play Ariell. I wonder how many of the protestors are offended at Euro-Jesus, a full cast of white Persians, or Katherine Hepburn playing the role of the legendary African Queen Cleopatra.
I took to social media to call out both of these situations as racist. I felt like both were pretty blatant examples of modern racism, but I found that there were people who didn’t see it. That left me wondering how it’s possible that people can be blind to such blatant examples of racism, and I came up with a list of three possible reasons for the blindness.
Privilege positions the person with it in a place that removes them from the plight of typical POC. As such, even successful people of color are also susceptible to being unable to recognize racism when it appears. Once people begin to benefit from the status quo, they are less likely to participate in dismantling the structures that support it, no matter how unjust they may be.
When people can’t imagine themselves being the target of racist behavior, words, or sentiment, they begin to side with the oppressors in the name of being “objective.” Trying to see racism from “both sides” is a fallacy. The victims of racism don’t have a role in perpetuating racism. If they have a “side,” it is passive at best.
In a previous blog, I wrote about the construct of whiteness. Ironically, some people were so attached to the construct they’ve accepted as their central identity that they read the title and headed for the hills without even reading it.
The construct of whiteness was built to protect racism. When someone attached to whiteness sees something racist in front of them, they do what they are conditioned to do – defend it. This reaction goes into effect unconsciously. For many sympathizers of racism, they aren’t even aware they are behaving as white supremacists.
Duh. I know. Hear me out. I’m not talking about a general ignorance but rather an ignorance as to what racism is. Some people genuinely believe racism is about hating people because of skin color. Due to that minimal view of racism, people blinded by ignorance assume that if there is no white hood, a burning cross, or cotton field, then there is no racism.
These folks believe in myths like “reverse racism” because they don’t understand that racism is about hatred and power. Without the energy or systemic cultural reinforcement of racial supremacy to support hatred, there can be no racism.
These are a few of the blinders. Can you think of any more? Which blinder do you see most in yourself and the people around you?