Daily Archives: August 10, 2007

Racism In Our Language

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I was extremely tired last night after putting the baby to bed and had a bunch of trouble getting started writing something for the Blog. I finally resorted to just surfing the web and letting my day drain from my mind when I came across a study called “Racism exists in our language”, you can read it in its entirety on Black Rising. The professor was talking about how rhetoric in how we speak changes perceptions. The professor named Victor Villanueva, said “Racism still exists, and “we have to look at [it] as a large systematic force that is still at work, It does us no good to deny its existence.” Now this is exactly what people need to start listening to.

Racism exists in our everyday life, people just have an acceptance which has been allowed to take place because we have individual people saying “I’m not racist” and so there really isn’t a problem. But there is a problem people, there is. Villanueva says “The new racism embeds racism within a set of other categories – language, religion, culture, and people have seen this new racism with Hurricane Katrina, yet they dismiss it and quickly forget about it. America resides in short-term memory.” The black community’s collective memory might be even shorter than that of the nation as a whole. We spend too much of our time worrying about what the black person did to get the malicious treatment delivered by the white community. We totally forget the actual act there for concentrating completely on the internal community feud thus never getting around to actually doing anything to combat such nasty treatment.

While we blacks are spending time playing the blame game, the white community is spending time figuring ways in which to render us invisible. Using such talk as “let’s all just be color blind”, which is one of my serious pet peeves see my article “Color Blind Racism” Villanueva says that “while being color-blind “would be the right thing” if it were actually possible, is not realistic. “No one wants to be rendered invisible, have a blind eye turned on her or him,”, so to be color-blind is to be “color-dumb, in all the senses of the word ‘dumb’.” There isn’t any possibility of the whole color blind argument ever coming into a society that is so obviously hung up on race but trying so hard to act oblivious to the inequities we live with day to day.

With such inequities in our society one can not simply blame the folks sitting at the bottom, there comes a time when you MUST look at the bigger picture to see that the blame needs to sit at the feet of not only our community but also the white community since they are the ones holding all the cards. Villanueva also talks of equity stating that it is impossible because capitalism works through exploitation. Since we in the black community have been exploited since our violent entrance into this society it (should but) doesn’t amaze me that we don’t do more to stick together and create equity within our own communities, but we are just too busy trying to get ours and forget everyone else. Which, you see plain as day with our celebrities such as Bill Cosby, and Oprah who are constantly saying things such as “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, “I made it, why can’t you”, and “our community is so irresponsible, that is why we don’t do better”.

The fallacy of such statements sends a bogus message to our children that the reason they are not more successful in this society designed for them to fail is somehow totally through their own deficiencies. This will inevitably breed such thoughts as “if I were more like the white kids, I would be better” or “if I align myself with the white community, I’ll make it”. Bang, we have just produced another Uncle Tom who will begin their journey through life hating, leaving and inevitably doing serious harm to the black community along with those who seek to protect it. These new Toms will infect many more blacks causing eyes to shut to the truth of racism faster than those of us out there fighting the good fight to open those eyes to it. Since it is so much easier to live in the dark oblivious to the reality of racism, than to feel the pain of looking right at the racist light shining like the sun, people will tend to choose the easier. All of this will contribute in helping the internal feuding, inequity and racism to persist within the black community.

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