Racism: What Does It Mean?
Racism is not just about color. I repeat. Racism is not just about color. When we tell these clueless folks on Tumblr that racism is prejudice + power, we should break down that power into easy-to-comprehend nuggets for better retention:
Prejudice: the ideology that Group B is inherently superior to Group A, and having biases about Group A simply for being Group A.
How is this prejudice supported and substantiated?
Colorism: the practice of believing that one is superior to another on the basis of skintone and then creating a hierarchy based on the quality of the person’s color. Many people believe that racism is only discriminating against someone because they are of a different color, but this is just one aspect of it. Colorism and prejudice become everything else down the line.
Ethnocentrism: the ideology that all ethnic cultures outside of your own are of lesser value and importance than your own and that yours is of utmost relevance to the world. This includes every part of a culture, such as language, behavior, religious beliefs, customs, folkways and cuisine.
Vigilantism: the act of Group B carrying out hate crimes against Group A, via social ills such as domestic terrorism, tarring-and-feathering and rape (ex.: Ku Klux Klan)
Racialized Sexism: the belief that the genders of one’s own ethnic group/race are superior to the genders of another group. This can be reinforced by pitting the genders from both racial groups against one another to create a hierarchy of sexual and ethnic privilege, a combined weapon. Within racialized sexism, certain punishments and rewards are put in place to make sure that people of the oppressed group, Group A, can never rise above their place in the hierarchy. Example? It was perfectly acceptable for a White man to rape an Indigenous woman because Indigenous women were not considered human and thus not women.
Only White women were considered human and worth saving. For men to be the victims, it has to come from a place of repression, not oppression, because men are repressed by the patriarchy rather than oppressed. Example? White folks created the myth that Black men were lascivious half-devil monsters who wished to rape White women, so the consequences of a Black man even daring to so much as look at a White woman would mean instant death. Also, a White woman had the power to immediately cry “rape!” at his expense, even if he: (a) didn’t make an advance and (b) was being molested by her in the first place
Number one, he’s Black so that’s already a strike against him. Number two, he can’t claim “rape” because the patriarchy says that: (a) men can’t be vulnerable and the racism says that (b) Black people are not human and cannot be victims of anything they didn’t deserve. The same story goes for every race/ethnicity of man and woman in the hierarchy.
This kind of thinking also allows people in Group B to believe that they should have willing & ready sexual access to the bodies of Group A at all times, and if Group A denies them this right, it is “reverse racism”. It’s not reverse racism. Group A just don’t like your racist ass and wants you to stop turning their ethnic background into a Halloweeny fetish.
Supremacism: a more concentrated form of prejudice (which is passive), supremacism is an active philosophy that advocates for the legalized defamation of other ethnic groups to be beneath one’s own on the social ladder. Supremacism is often carried out publicly and loudly and is meant to shape the minds of the supposed superior race into believing these teachings through various mediums. Some mediums of where supremacy is used are in familiar ones such as film, television and literature.
Genocide Culture: genocide culture is when you take supremacism to a more violent, consequential level. If Group B deliberately raids, rapes, destroys and exterminates folks in Group A, this is genocide culture. This is ethnic cleansing. Genocide culture becomes genocide denial down the years after full oppression has taken a foothold. Examples of genocide culture are: the Holocaust, the Eugenics Movement, the Trail of Tears.
Institutionalized Discrimination: the act of denying persons of the undesirable group equal access into social facilities, or making it intensely more difficult for persons of Group A to maintain sovereignty in the world because Group B denies them equal treatment. This can happen anywhere, anyplace & anytime, but when discrimination is legalized, such as in Apartheid Laws of South Africa, it is then institutionalized exploitation. Discrimination will undeniably have a negative effect on the class system as well, because climbing the social ladder will be far more difficult on purpose. Even when legalized discrimination is taken down, cultural discrimination still takes place, and is strengthened by biases in the collective cultural consciousness of the more powerful racial group, Group B.
Hate Speech: Anyone can practice hate speech, but the cultural and social severity of said hate speech is conditional on the ethnicities of the persons in question. Prime examples of hate speech within racist contexts are ethnic slurs such as: nigger, squaw, wetback, slanty-eye, etc. These words come directly from the institutions that have sanctioned racist acts a normal way of life. Should the people these words are directed at, Group A, then begin to use words against Group B, this is not racism, this is hate speech. The associations between words like “nigger” and “spic” carry more weight than the associations between words like “honky”. Although it isn’t nice to call anyone an ethnic slur, for a privileged person of Group B to deliberately use such words against Group A holds more consequences. Such terms cannot be removed from their oppressive contexts, especially since the racism in the society is still ongoing.
Privilege-Granting or Favoritism: Because all of society is arrayed against Group A, Group B then reaps the benefits of this by being allowed to be the center of everything in the society. People of Group B will be granted special permissions for everyday things like job offerings and representations in the media, because Group B is the standard by which everyone must measure themselves in the society. This thing, called privilege, seeps into EVERY single aspect of the society, even in places where people of Group A & Group B may have some oppression in common, such as being Women or LGBT. And even though they may share this oppression in common, people of Group B will still maintain their power because of their race. As a reaction to this, Group A is forced to either: (a) be eternally subservient to the wishes of Group B or (b) create their own safe spaces and niche groups where their community can be uplifted (HBCUs, Tribal Colleges, PoC organizations, etc.)
Conditionalism: when oppressed groups within the oppressor group (Group B) are discriminated against and dehumanized. Example? The oppression of Anglo-Americans towards the Irish. Conditionalism manifests when oppressed groups within the oppressor group are given a choice: (a) accept the terms of their fate or (b) work towards freeing themselves of their lower status. How do they work towards freeing themselves of their lower status? By oppressing Group A. Example? Irish folks were not considered “white”, but “white negroes” and were seen equally as horrid as Blacks, but Irish folks were able to achieve their Whiteness by performing Blackface at the expense of Black peoples.
Exploitation: part of discrimination, exploitation is the art and science of manipulating the society in order to make things extremely difficult for Group A’s success to flourish. This often manifests itself in places where people in Group A are forced into substandard living conditions because of laws that prohibit them from making the same successes as people in Group B. Even if a person from Group A “makes it”, his or her success will be constantly threatened by circles of power that seek to: (a) discredit him or her, (b) defame him or her. Also, should the successful person in Group A ever seek to help his or her own people out of their abject poverty, this will be seen as a threat to the stability of the order (and it is). The life-line of the success is always conditional on the ability to be consumed by the dominant culture.
ALL OF THESE PRACTICES ARE STILL IN ORDER IN SOME FORM TODAY AND EVERYONE IN GROUP A, ALSO KNOWN AS PEOPLE OF COLOR, ARE STILL SUFFERING FROM THE HISTORICAL AND PRESENT-DAY NEGATIVE BACKLASHES FROM CENTURIES, EVEN MILLENNIA, OF OPPRESSION BY OPPOSING, POWERFUL FORCES. THIS SORT OF OPPRESSION GOES UNNOTICED BY PEOPLE IN GROUP B BECAUSE THEY NEVER HAVE TO THINK ABOUT BEING JUDGED BY A DOMINANT POWER BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE BECAUSE THEY ARE PART OF THE DOMINANT POWER. AND RECEIVE ITS BENEFITS. RACISM IS NOT OVER. IT DID NOT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR WHEN BARACK OBAMA WAS ELECTED.
IN FACT, IT GOT WORSE. MUCH, MUCH WORSE. DON’T BELIEVE ME? ASK PEOPLE OF COLOR ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCES. LOOK UP STATISTICAL ANALYSIS FROM THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION AND AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. KNOW YOUR PRIVILEGE. TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR PRIVILEGE. DECOLONIZE YOUR MIND. FREE YOURSELF FROM THIS BULLSHIT. AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY.
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