After listening to the testimony of character witnesses at the McMichael’s bond hearing, seeing local businesses share policies that indirectly discourage the patronage of certain ethnicities, and reflecting on personal interactions, I’ve realized that people in our community fail to grasp what racism is and how it manifests itself in our daily lives.
Racism is often viewed as a polar entity. Racists are bad people and good people aren’t racist. This narrative says if I do not explicitly dislike people of different races, if I interact with them at work, have them as friends or acquaintances, then I am not racist.
As innocuous as it may seem, this narrative is a key driver in the longevity of systemic racism. While overt racism is widely unacceptable, covert racism is an insidious, pervasive problem in today’s culture.
While you may not be bold enough to use racial slurs or make racially charged jokes openly, you may be comfortable hearing others do so or making them yourself within trusted audiences. You may say “I don’t see color” but feel uncomfortable around a large group of another race. You may view cultural differences such as vernacular, hairstyle, or clothing as somehow being indicative of education level, work ethic, or one’s likelihood to engage in criminal activity.
Discussing race and examining our conscious and subconscious bias can be uncomfortable but it’s necessary if we want to work towards true racial equality. As a community we can and must do better.