The other day, I had a discussion about Racism and its meaning, very prolonged and limited to 140 characters a point. The only good that came from it was it cemented my understanding, my beliefs and gave me the impetus to start this blog.
Be it right or wrong, I have always understood Racism to be racial prejudice combined with the belief in one’s superiority ‘power’ over others. So, in theory, anyone could be racially prejudiced; make assumptions that all people of a certain race behave in a certain way. It is only when prejudice is combined with ‘power’ and a desire, be it conscious or unconscious, to oppress another socially, culturally and/or economically that it becomes Racism.
I am by no means an expert and from my ivory tower, I do not profess to have ever suffered from Racism or even racial prejudice. So why then do I feel the need and think I have the right to talk about Racism? When I don’t talk about the Han’isation of Western China or the ongoing extermination of the Amazonian tribal communities. Because, even though it isn’t directed at me, it doesn’t mean I don’t see it. It doesn’t mean I don’t hear people happily banding around assumptions about North Africans, Black and Asian people. I imagine this won’t shock but covert middle class racial prejudice is alive a well.
So here’s my question, when this prejudice is only expressed amongst white people, is it still Racism?
The short answer is yes. As we have all seen in 2016, if someone shouts the loudest and the longest eventually, like lambs to the slaughter, passively observing this hate, we appropriate their language and follow their, now detoxified, ideologies. By using this language, by viewing the world through their goggles of racial judgement, we then make judgements based upon another’s skin tone.
I was challenged about my belief that a Black person cannot be racist to a White person. After, what is it 50 years since Martin Luther King? White people still hold all the cards, there might be a Black president in the US but that is just sugar-coating, it hasn’t changed any covert/hidden prejudice. In my opinion, life is still harder for a person of colour than it is for a White person, fewer opportunities are at hand, fewer doors are opened. So, if this is the case and White people still have ‘power’, then surely White ‘power’ in-conjunction with racial prejudice equals Racism and if people of colour don’t have ‘power’ then their racial prejudice can never be racist to White people.
All prejudice has to be challenged, people have to be called out for their actions. I would certainly not criticise a person who is under attack from throwing a punch in self-defence. So why do we, as a culture, point and shout racist at person of colour who comments upon the actions of White people, when we ignore the everyday racism hidden from view.
I know some will say, this is all just semantic word play but it is important for us as a society to clarify and educate each and every person of the definition of Racism and racial prejudice. I feel it is only then that we can start to truly challenge it and, just like Rumpelstiltskin, if we can name it, we can stop it.