The word “racism” comes up a lot in discussion for the last few weeks. The general public’s sensitivity to racism is much higher than usual. It’s a really good thing that folks can see how pervasive racism is in our culture.
To me racism implies mean-spirited, prejudiced, people doing clueless things. This would also include government action that are like that, like racist cops and employment discrimination. While there are certainly plenty of examples of this kind of (shall we say) asshole behavior, I don’t think this is the crux of the problem
We must remember that we live under an empire and the empire has its needs from the people of the dominant country. They use things like mass incarceration, police murder, bad ghetto schools, high minority unemployment, etc. as a way to keep particularly Black & Latino people under control and to divide the people along racial lines. They enforce it day-to-day with a brutal occupation of communities of color by the police. White people are invited to be satisfied with all of this, seeing their own experience (even when they look at race) as saying that things are getting better re racism in the US. On the lower end of the white spectrum, people are encouraged to see people of color as out of control and to actually support the “New Jim Crow,” out of their own fear.
But in the past few weeks, what’s happening in the streets all over the country shows a much deeper understanding of the system and the ways (and reasons) that people of color are oppressed. This is widely understood now. This is the peak. Consciousness will probably slip back soon, but not all the way. There will be a long-term improvement in the understanding of the people.
Now is the time to make clear that the other half (and the enabling half) of the oppression of people of color is WHITE PRIVILEGE and its political counterpart, WHITE SUPREMACY. White supremacy is easier than racism to understand as oppression. It’s not about certain peoples’ behavior, but about a method of rule. In these exciting times, millions of white people and Black people are getting it.
I actually think that people of faith could make a real contribution by tackling white privilege in a big way. Imagine millions of Christians calling out white privilege whenever they see it, as a spiritual practice! This should be part of the basic training of Christians!
This is my thinking at the moment. But I learn stuff every day.Follow Us