I am racist. I have been racist since the moment my soul was born into a white body in the United States of America.
I am racist but I am not bigoted. My brand of racism is not overt.
I don’t tweet racist things, I don’t use racial slurs, I do my best to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings.
My brand of racism was thrust upon me and is often invisible. It has trained me to fear the presence certain bodies and attempted to minimize my remorse when those bodies are unjustly slain.
My brand of racism was informed by a rosy and false version of our country’s history of race relations.
‘Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. MLK Jr. had a dream of racial unity. We should all be “colorblind” and love each other.’
Yet reality is not at all colorblind.
A young white man who raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster gets a short jail sentence on the basis that he made a lapse of judgment. A black man selling CDs illegally to support his family had had no chance at justice and was instead publicly executed.
My brand of racism is fueled by a stream of media that discusses the tragic end of the white man’s swimming career and digs up reasons to vilify the man of color.
We all deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but we MUST be aware of the hurdles that prevent certain people from attaining them and find ways to even the playing field.
To my white friends, family, neighbors: I call upon you to please look to acknowledge the biases that affect your opinions and think about where they came from and figure out how to erase them. The media you consume and company you keep play a huge part in this. This cleansing will take time and commitment and you will mess up along the way, but it’s absolutely necessary to make our country a safe place for everyone that calls it home. America’s culture of racism is so entrenched and subversive that those living today may never be able to fully scrub them out of their subconscious but we MUST try.
To my friends, family, and neighbors of color: my heart aches for you. I will never know the extent of the pain you experience on a daily basis, but let me be a friend and ally to you in whatever way I can. You do not deserve to feel unsafe in your own neighborhoods, homes, or now, cars. My Muslim brothers and sisters: you do not deserve to be asked to justify the terrorism by deranged few that claim to act in your name, yet wreak destruction on your own holy sites during one of your most sacred times of celebration. My Latinx brothers and sisters: your contributions to this country don’t deserve to be washed away by threats of a wall or deportation.
If you take issue with or feel uncomfortable by what I’m saying, don’t block me. Don’t dismiss this plea as “white guilt” or “liberal agenda” and respond with politicized buzzwords. Instead, reach out to me and let’s have a meaningful conversation. Don’t expect people of color to owe you the same time and energy, as their time is being spent on far more taxing things.
If only it were so simple to tell you all to stay safe and have it become reality. Instead, I wish you the strength to keep fighting.
Derek, USA, JoU February 2014