It isn’t new. It’s older than our nation. It dogs us like the monster it is. Yet we say we don’t see it, or things have gotten better, or it’s the way things were meant to be.
The rift is bolder and more brazen today than at any time in my lifetime. It runs like a fault line beneath everything we say, do, feel and think about in our relationships with each other.
It isn’t the only fault line. And, as I said at the top, it isn’t new. It’s simply in our faces—even though many seem not to see it.
Not seeing it is part of the problem. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Oh—I don’t see gender any more. I just see people!’ How odd.
But this rift isn’t about gender. It’s about something that affects each of us in this country. It doesn’t matter which gender we’re born into, or whether we seek to change our gender or not.
I hear it often these days: ‘Oh—I don’t see color anymore. I’m color-blind!’ As though being blind were the solution. Or even making black or brown one ‘color’ among all the rest.
In this country we have an ill-kept secret. We are racist to the core. I am racist to the core. This is true even though we have varying degrees of consciousness and commitment to rectifying injustices perpetrated on our black neighbors and fellow-citizens.
It didn’t happen yesterday. It happened the moment we began building our nation on the backs of slave labor. Yes, we’ve used white slave labor also, and are still addicted to that. Witness our below-living standard wages in many states and businesses.
But the case of imported slave labor has its own history—which is foundational to our nation’s history. It includes what’s happening today in our school systems, prisons, courts and neighborhoods.
It’s no longer enough to say ‘I’m against racism.’ Or ‘this company, university, state, nation or political party is against racism in all its forms.’
The question is more basic than that: Are we committed in our homes and in our places of business to dismantling racism? Are we engaging our brothers and sisters in conversation, letting them lead us to take strategic action together to replace policies and procedures that enable racism?
This is personal and institutional work. Not an overnight fix, or an easy answer to a survey question. It asks us to stand up and be counted on the side of dismantling racism—not just saying we’re ‘antiracist.’
Eloquent statements or sermons, and ever-so-large protests aren’t working. We seem to be at a stalemate.
In fact, we seem to be going backwards. We’ve developed and largely accepted a devious approach to being color-blind. We lock people up in prisons, restrict them to certain parts of our cities, towns, businesses and school systems, and lower the impact of their votes in state and national elections.
Out of sight, out of mind? An increasingly uneven playing field? This isn’t a proud legacy. It’s a judgment and a strategy against all of us.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Uneven