You don’t have to be “evil” or a “bad” person to be a racist or to have racist prejudices. There are lots of people who consider themselves “good’ folks that have racist thoughts. They go to church. They take good care of their families. They would never even dream of being outwardly racist.
But it’s there. Deep Down. Only rearing it’s ugly head during certain moments. You’ve heard them before.
“Why don’t those Black Lives Matter people just relax. All lives are important.”
“I don’t see race. People are just people.”
“Black people should just work harder. They stay poor because of laziness.”
“She looks so mean. I bet she would just start screaming if I went up to her.”
“All those thugs make me nervous. I don’t want that riff raff in my neighborhood.”
“I wouldn’t date a black person but I would love to be with for one night.”
“Why do they get to say the N-word and I can’t?”
These are just a few examples. All of these statements and those like them are problematic. They don’t just come from white people either. Other people of color have racism so deeply internalized that they don’t even realize what they’re doing.
The first step to getting past racism…or sexism…or homophobia…or transphobia…or islamophobia… is admitting there is a problem. Nothing gets better by sweeping it under the rug. Denying its existence makes it easier for the most problematic to operate. By saying there isn’t a problem, overt racists and the like can further normalize their actions and nothing gets better.
Check yourselves. If you have a question, ask and absorb. Don’t get defensive. All of us have things to work on. Make it a priority to inform yourself about issues before speaking on them.
We can fix this if we all work together.