Many are still lost in the sauce and believe racism is basically just hating a person simply because of their race. Though that definition seems pretty straight forward, it’s not describing racism holistically. When we don’t understand racism in its entirety, the we can’t effectively address the issue.
Let me reiterate — if we’re not analyzing racism holistically, then we’re only doing so partially. It’s easy to see how that’s an issue.
Now, be warned: This info is simplified and condensed for ease of understanding such a heavy topic.
As a point of acknowledgement, racism is commonly used as a synonym for prejudice, which isn’t quite right. This post isn’t about that though. The purpose of this post is to break down the popular logic behind what racism is to help those who subscribe to the “it’s just race hate” mindset to expand their knowledge a bit. So, let’s do this.
If racism was just hate, then why did American Chattel Slavery begin?
Do you think some southern white man just woke up one day and decided “You know what, I can’t stand those black folks. I reckon I’ll enslave me few.” Of course you don’t. That’s silly.
The motivation behind American Chattel Slavery was money. Not hatred.
It wasn’t until poor white servants and slaves joined together to revolt against their upper-class “employers” that treated them like shit, that a hierarchy on the bases of skin color was born. See, the planters couldn’t have slaves and poor white people attacking them so they had to create a system to destroy existing alliances and prevent new ones. (Look into Bacon’s’ Rebellion for an example of these revolts.)
Which brings me to my next point….
What about white supremacy?
It isn’t necessary for one to harbor any hostility toward another individial or group in order to believe in racial superiority. Let’s look at the segregation era, do you believe that 100% white citizens then were always violent and aggressive towards black citizens? Many of the white people of that time believed that separate was indeed equal. They simply lived under the belief that white people are superior and black people were
intellectually unfit to live in the same way white people do. No violence or hateful language is necessary for that belief system to be present.
The Jim Crow was the byproduct of a racist system and designed specifically for the maintenance of social, economic, and political power of white people.
It was crafted specifically to keep white people on top now that chattel slavery was gone. It was to reestablish racial equilibrium — without the actual equal. Obliviously, our racist social system still exists today. We also have an racially discriminatory legal system that still exist which stems directly the past, but that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s move on.
Then what about covert racism?
Ah yes. The difference between covert and overt racism. The dictionary definition of racism doesn’t account for covert racism which is why it’s overlooked rather than being common knowledge.
Overt racism — Obvious, Hateful, Angry, Direct, Blatant, etc.
Example : Openly using the N-word to describe black people.
Covert racism — Hidden, Unconscious, Underlying, Closeted.
Example : Never using racially charged language but feeling uncomfortable around black people.
This is also known as unconscious bias.
This lack of understanding is one of the major reasons the racism conversation is so sticky. Many Americans believe that the absence of overt racism, is the absence of racism. Racism hasn’t gone away. Doesn’t matter how many Obamas, Oprahs, or Jay – Zs there are. Racism hasn’t gone away, it only evolved into something less detectable.
Bottom Line: Racism is a system.
The laws and customs that were (and still are) established in the US today are not the product of simple ass hatred but the product of the needed for social , political, economical, power. If if that means exploiting an entire group of people on the bases of race to achieve that power, then so be it. That’s what racism is.