Why Are We Still Letting This Happen?

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Author: Rhodes Houser | Title: Why Are We Still Letting This Happen? | Excerpt of A Brief Thought of the 21st Century: Vol. 1. | April, 2019. | University Media

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When racism is clearly exemplified through examples of men with pitchforks and tiki torches marching for white supremacy in Charlottesville, it can be easy to separate ourselves from them. This can be true, more so when our questionable jokes seemingly pale in comparison to what happens in places like Charlottesville. We tell ourselves things like, “Those are what racists look like and I am not a racist because I would never do those things.”  With the evolution of call-out culture, it can be difficult to acknowledge and to admit our wrongdoings and faults out of fear that our place in this world will be challenged. There seems to be a “racist” or “not racist” dichotomy that has emerged, where one act defines whether one is a racist, where the fear of being labeled a racist is greater than the fear of one’s action being racist. Because we have these extremes and because we harbor this fear, it can be easy for us to comfortably separate ourselves from “racists” and deny responsibility, enabling us to blindly maintain a system that perpetuates violence against people of color. But then who is responsible?

I am responsible. I am a decent person and I am racist. These two labels are not mutually exclusive. I believe I have good intentions. I also harbor prejudices and biases that stem from the racism that I have chosen to actively work against instead of denying. However, the fact of the matter is I am a fallible human and I don’t win every battle I wage. Every battle I do lose, I fail people of color and contribute to a system that perpetuates violence against people of color through the whitening of public spaces.

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