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White people may not feel that we have anything to do with these larger problems, but our silence is part of the problem.Our acceptance of the status quo makes these injustices harder to challenge.Separating intention from inattention means that if we say something that inadvertently hurts someone else, we do not need to get defensive. I did not realize what that would sound like or feel like for you.” We can use the experience as a learning opportunity to see life from another’s point of view.
The following myths often arise or lurk near the surface in white people’s discussions of racism.
This perspective can be seen in the question “Why do we need to talk about that?
” She points out the irony that the liability of race has come to stand for an asset: a special card.
To respond to this sentiment, it can be helpful to highlight recent statistics about the impact of race on one’s ability to secure a mortgage from a bank or pass wealth on to one’s children, to be shown homes one is interested in buying or renting, to get interviewed for a job, or to live a long life with access to quality health care—or, conversely, one’s likelihood of being stopped by the police.
Racism is more than someone calling a person of color by a terrible name.
It is also seen in differences in pay, housing discrimination, mortgage lending, school segregation, and rates of policing and incarceration.There are some state and federal laws that have been (or should be) put into legislation requiring greater accountability for police officers’ use of deadly force.There are laws that can address the unequal sentencing practices and the detrimental effect of over-policing poor neighborhoods.Or we think of the images of young white men chanting “Blood and soil! The moment we point away from ourselves to some other person or group as the “real racists,” we become like the self-righteous character in Jesus’ parable who declares, “God, I thank you I am not like other people” (Luke ).The moment we catch ourselves making that distinction, we need to remind ourselves to be more like the tax collector in the story, asking, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Even when we are faced with great opposition in talking with other white people about racism, we need to remember that we are no different from those people.If we are generally good people who feed and clothe the homeless and give our money to the poor, it can feel as if we are being unjustly accused of racism when the rest of our behavior shows our moral intentions.Unfortunately, great harm comes to others not simply by our .While overt racial discrimination is outlawed, there are ways in which laws continue to enable such discrimination to take place.Michelle Alexander has argued that the harsh drug laws of the 1980s’ War on Drugs have resulted in the mass incarceration of men of color through prison sentences and felony convictions that justify the same kind of discrimination allowed legally under the Jim Crow laws of 1877–1950: housing discrimination, job discrimination, and the inability to vote.If racism were just about mean actions and words, then we could easily say this is not about us; we ourselves do not harbor racist beliefs or say racist things (at least to people of color). The first is that it assumes that we are the best judges of whether we are racist or not.The second is that it misses a whole world of data that shows less obvious factors in racial inequality and discrimination.