The following is a comment I made on Facebook in response to a video entitled “Are You Racist? “No’ isn’t a good enough answer.”
Posted January 16, 2016
I like the intent of this message but it is EXACTLY the reason why I did my PhD research addressing racial bias, AND why I wrote my BOOK, “It’s Not Always Racist, but Sometimes It Is.” There is confusion around the words that people use when it comes to race and racism.
Simply, a RACIST is a person who believes in the superiority of one race over another – i.e. a skinhead.
RACIAL BIAS is a pre-judgment of someone on the basis of race – i.e. when a person of color is followed around in a store out of suspicion that he or she would steal something. And using the same example, RACISM ONLY EXISTS if that store owner acts on his or her prejudice AND POWER, and refuses to let the person of color shop in the store.
Put simply, in my book I expound upon the equation created in 1979 by Bidol –
Racism = prejudice + power + intent
RACISM ONLY EXISTS IF ONE HAS POWER OVER ANOTHER TO STOP HIM OR HER FROM DOING SOMETHING LIKE GETTING A JOB, OR THE OFFICER WHO STOPPED AND KILLED TAMIR RICE WHILE HE WAS JUST BEING HIMSELF – A YOUNG BLACK BOY.
I will clarify a little more. A RACIST PERSON has a specific BELIEF in the superiority of one race over another but s/he might not necessarily have the power to practice racism. A perfect example is the KKK in South Carolina. The Klan came out in full force to oppose the taking down of the Confederate Flag but they DIDN’T HAVE THE POWER TO STOP IT. On that very day, their racist beliefs and biases did not mean a thing because they didn’t have POWER to do anything with them!
This video has a good message but it is indicative of the confusion that exists when we mix up concepts and terminology around race. What the video is talking about is:
APATHY VERSUS ACTIVISM
Are you sitting at home being a witness to all the racial injustice that is happening in the world, or are you doing something in your life and in your daily goings on to address it? Do you challenge the person who makes racist statements? Are you giving that person of color a chance to work for you, or get a promotion in your workplace? Are you working on your own junk – addressing your racial biases that lead you to immediately pick up your purse when a black person sits beside you in a store? – That happened to me in Starbucks last week.
If you’re not a person who would march in the streets to protest racial injustice, there are small things you can do in your life at home, at work, at church… ANYWHERE… that would facilitate change.
Check out my book and review! https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/dionne-wright-poulton/its-not-always-racistbut-sometimes-it-is/