Updated: Sep 10, 2020
I find that I ask myself "why" a lot. If you ask some of my friends, I ask "why" a little too much. The most pertinent "why" I ask is, "why do some people, hate other people, simply because they are different?" Is it fear? Is it nurture, or perhaps nature? I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone north of the Mason Dixon, who would say that racism is innate. Most psychologists would agree that racism is a learned behavior, and several studies have been conducted to that end. It's either passed on, or born of a not so rosy interaction with someone of a different race. This interaction, eliciting a sort of neurological coupling, dictates all further interaction with people of that particular race. Or perhaps it is the culmination of several interactions. Either way, the real question is how do we rid ourselves of racism?
Ridding ourselves of racism is no easy task. I say ourselves, because all members of every race bear some responsibility. It is rooted deeply in the fabric of our country's existence. This country was built, with the blood and sweat of slavery. It endures, thanks to its legacy of hate, imperialism, and racism. To some, racism doesn't exist, and Barack Obama is proof of that. This is folly. If Barack Obama had been elected with a vote from every single registered voter in the entire country, this would still not be proof of racism's demise (roughly 75 million americans eligible to vote, don't). Examine the folks that exaggerate racism's dissolution, and you would quickly realize that the majority are not of color. They are typically of the fair skinned variety, and have likely never experienced racism in their life. At least not the kind of racism reserved for the negro, the latino, or the asian. A recent poll in the New York times under the article titled "Poll Finds Most in US hold Dim View of Race Relations" showed that even before the current narrative of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Akai Gurley, white people were always more optimistic about race relations in this country. All the while never really feeling that blacks had a chance to get ahead in society. After seeing Eric Garner and Walter Scott killed, in cold blood, they're still significantly more optimistic than African Americans.
So then, why? Why say that racism is all but over, that it's days are numbered, and we are living in a post racism era? Is it that they are naive? Ignorant? These are all very likely reasons. In 2013 Chief Justice John Roberts summed up how the majority of whites in this country felt when he said, "There are examples of progress more poignant than the numbers" when he suggested that there was no need to make sure that there wasn't discrimination in voting. He stated "our country has changed." Denial is a powerful thing. It distorts reality, and shapes the world to our short-sighted perceptions. We see what we want to see, and avert our understanding to everything else. Fast forward 3 years and countless examples of institutionalized discrimination and murder at the hands of the police and the justice system, and we are still the same country. The country that that disproportionately persecutes, prosecutes, incarcerates, and kills its citizens of color.
The current wealth of this country is the result of the theft of labor, and the killing and terrorizing of Africans and their descendants. Racism is a reminder of this. It's the lingering stench of murder. An odious reality, that many do their best to forget. Some people in this country don't like the idea that they are standing on the bones of slaves, so they tuck this history away. They tell themselves that racism, discrimination, and slavery were archaic practices of backwoods yokels. They see a man choked to death and say he should not have resisted, they see a man shot in the back by a police officer who then plants a gun on him and they say that's terrible, but why would he run? They do everything they can to ensure that they don't have to face their reality, face their America, and ask with sadness in their hearts, why?