The Race Card

The 20s are all about speaking up and out. I wholeheartedly believe that there is nothing more powerful in this world than speech, words, and silence. Communication, or the lack thereof, are oh so very important. People need to speak. They need to be heard, listened to, and understood. People have a need to express themselves. To voice their opinions, and to share their experiences. I can think of nothing more critical than giving people the acknowledge they deserve by allowing them the time, place, and space to speak their own personal truths. Time to lay all the cards out on the table - get ready, let's debunk the race card.
 
*This post, like the hundreds of others, express nothing more than my opinion. I remind you that I am entitled to mine just like it's your prerogative to share yours. With that being said, if talking about race and racism makes you uncomfortable too damn bad because it's happening. As always, you have no obligation to read my blog.
 
Let me just start by redefining racism a few ways. Racism is the systemic oppression of people of color based on the pigmentation of their skin by white people that serves to devalue, stereotype, and stigmatize. First and foremost if that definition pisses you off, take take the time to breathe ... and then press on.  Also, why does that make you mad? Does it scare you that you might actually have to take responsibility for something that if you're actively combating against you're contributing to - uhm, yeah! Yes I just wrote that people of color cannot be racist. I'm going to pause right there and make a bold and important state. People cannot BE racist (sexist, heterosexist, classist, ableist, etc.), they CAN say or do things that are those -isms. Separate the deed from the doer or else we write off entire people's for one thing and that would be wrong (oh wait ...). Also yes, only those with systemic power, that is those who control the government, have the most ability to have influence, and are most represented in diverse, dynamic, authentic across all facets of the media, with an identity can say or do those -ist things. Yup, people of color cannot be, say or do anything racist. Women cannot say or do sexist things. People with queer identities cannot say or do anything heterosexist. However, people with subordinated identities, can say or do things that are prejudiced or discriminatory. Let that sink in for a moment. There is no such thing as reverse racism, reverse sexism, or reverse classism. People excluded from mainstream society because of the identities they hold in those social categories do not have the social power to oppress, demean, or antagonize the inside group. Got it? Good, let's move on.
 Demonstrators march outside the White House on Monday night. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Firefighters fight of flames from a restaurant that was set on fire during the protests in Ferguson. (Scott Olsen/Getty Images)
I'm going to redefine racism (and all other -isms for that matter) in my own words. Racism the fundamental belief that people of color are less than human. Read that again. Less than human. That is the only way that I can understand how people can still commit the heinous acts, believe irrational things, and perpetuate systems of oppression. If some white people saw people of color as human then there is NO WAY they could maltreat them the way they do. Just like men, heterosexual people, temporarily able-bodied people, middle/upper class people, naturalized citizens, gender conforming people etc. must not see those they oppress as human. What people are missing is people's humanity. It doesn't make sense though, because it's always there. It's never invisible. It doesn't go anywhere. Bring back the humanity. Look for it, it's right in front of you. Use that to guide how you treat people. Acknowledge difference and celebrating it are two different things, but neither are working for us. Unity comes in humanity and humanity means diversity.

The race card does not exist. This is not a damn game. People's identities are ALWAYS at play, you can't turn them off or on (I acknowledge some identities are visible while others are invisible). One of most often overlooked privileges (ironic) or having a dominant identity is never having to think of your identity as actually being one that you have and benefit. Whenever someone has an outsider identity they constantly are made to think about, address it, and deal with the micro/macroaggressions. To deny someone's identity is to deny them. You can't pretend that I'm not African-American. That's part of who I am. Ignoring my skin color does both of us a disservice. You forget that I look and experience this country quite differently than you do, just like you do from me as well.
 Protestors face police in Los Angeles following the grand jury announcement. (David McNew/Getty Images)
The decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, MO concerning the indictment of a one Officer Darren Wilson should this country to it's foundation. I'm telling you civil rights activists of the past were rolling in their graves. I was watching different media outlets and seeing how they reported the topic. As someone who wants to become a journalist I was applying what I'd learn all semester about objective news reporting and realized almost immediately that there is no such thing. Anderson Cooper of CNN said someone poignant but I don't even think he meant to when he was on the streets last night, "The people are reacting to the lack of an indictment." I paused, rewound and played it again. He said lack. Lack meaning the sate of being without. Synonyms include - absence, need, deficiency, shortfall. I searched across multiple stations and that word lack kept up. If you want to be unbiased you would refer to the indictment decision or indictment verdict. The outrage across forms of social media is unreal. I have NEVER seen people so vocal about something. It's actually mindblowing.
 
I want to take a second to digitally stand the hell up and applaud all my friends who have taken the initiative to stand up and say something. I don't care if it's via facebook, joining a protest, or even just texting me individually to rant. I'm so damn proud of you it's unreal. The friends I'm talking about are those who identify as white, because in this racist society, your voices are the ones needed to bring change. Every person of color I know already has been and continues to express their outrage but we all know that falls on deaf ears. Case in point this Bill Cosby ridiculousness. The man is a serial rapist and has committed multiple sexual assault - 95% of the time when people come forward about being sexually assaulted investigators have found no contradictory evidence. It took a man, a comedian who mentioned it in passing for the allegations to finally stick, after the woman who have come forward have been sharing their stories over and over again for more than twenty years. That's male privilege at work in a sexist society. So I say again, thank you for saying something. You've shared quotes, expressed your anger, and showed the solidarity that this country has been waiting for ever since it's inception. That's the real color of friendship right there.

With that being said in even looking at who has been involved in these conversations it's almost all people with subordinated identities (probably because they understand and have experienced what it's like either individually or institutionally to be persecuted for an identity). White men, where are you? Where are you always? What are you doing? You couldn't even spare a retweet. Again I say in times like these, silence is the same as condoning. I'm calling you the heck out. I'm not even mad the ignorant bigotry on my timelines of people defending the decision. At least they have made themselves known so now I can unfollow, delete, block and remove their negativity from my life. Now I know they cannot be trusted; they have let me know exactly how they feel about me and all those who look like me. For that I am thankful, I don't need enemies just allies. But to those of you who have yet to say anything, what are you doing? Nothing, as always, and that is more dangerous than anything the system can ever do.

Now let me give you some perspective on why I find it actually comical that people are "disgusted" with the civil unrest, protests, riots or looting factions (whatever the hell you want to call them). People of color have a right to be angry about racism. I'm going to say something bold and wholly controversial, prepare yourself. People of color have rational reasons to hate white people. They should rise about that hatred though. White people have NO rational reasons whatsoever to do what they have done to people of color, that is dehumanize, exclude, exoticize, mass murder, create horizontal oppression (yeah when people of color hate other people of color, that's an after effect of being belittled by the dominant group) etc. Being a person of color, in my opinion, is like being in an abusive relationship. You're dating this person (aka white dominant society) but they keep mistreating you, putting you down, and hurting you. What's your advice to this person, break up with them of course, but you can't break up with them. No matter where you go, there they are. Not even in the comfort of your own home cause you turn on the TV, read a book, or browse the internet, there they are. It's wrong to make sweeping generalizations about entire populations of people just because you have one bad interaction with a singular person (even if it happens over and over again ... which it does). That's exactly what racism and all the -isms are. They strip people of individuality and subsequently their humanity.
 
Twitter has shown me so much in the past 12 hours. There are some (key word there) white people who are more concerned with the burning of the American flag or the destruction of stores than of the PERSON that killed. Material things matter more than a human being. Again, you've let me know how you feel about me. Toni Morrison's quote is so damn relevant here, "In this country American means white, everyone else has to hyphenate." You wonder why many people of color, myself included don't even see themselves as American because we're not treated or seen as such. The term "All American Boy" includes white as part of the description. White t-shirt, letterman jacket form football, blue jeans, blond or brown hair, and light eyes - no people of color. Forget nationalism, I may live here but I've been well aware that this country does not celebrate me. No need to play the race card, it wouldn't do anything anyway.

Let me finish this post by saying a couple things. The indictment decision was outrageous. Contradictory testimonies, motives, and conflicting evidence should be hashed out in court among other things. Last night I wasn't even phased by the decision. I didn't cry uncontrollably like I did last year with Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman acquittal. I didn't feel fear (as if it ever subsides). I didn't feel anger. I felt nothing. That's so messed up. I wasn't even surprised at the decision. In a system that was never made to protect me, why would I expect it to work for me for once? The founders of this godforsaken country did not have me in mind in their genesis of this wicked twisted place. My last point is the bull crap rhetoric swirling around that people of color need to "get educated." I tell you that whether or not you have a degree, diploma, or know your freaking ABCs you should be treated with the respect that be inherent to being human. Respect is not earned it is given. Learn all you want but the system was not made to be overcome. Even if you can and do overcome all the barriers that people of color face in pursuing education, your skin color still speaks louder than all you have accomplished. Doctor - Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated - his diploma didn't deflect the bullets and neither did the race card.

My blog post question for the day is ... how are you taking care of yourself in the wake of this national uproar? Oh my ass is getting off social media real soon and just turning it all off. I already know how mainstream society feels about me, I don't need my daily reminder today.

Black lives matter. My life matters. Your life matters. Human lives matter.
 

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