One issue that we rarely see tackled in the news these days is racism.
Yes, that is what I said. You, the reader, are thinking “What is she talking about? Every time I turn around, someone is talking about it!” Well, no, not really. You may see a story about someone accused of racism, or that racism is being found in certain areas of entertainment or the political realm, sure. But today, no one is talking-really talking-about racism itself.
Take the current Paula Deen case as an example. Everywhere on the internet from news media outlets to the social media front, posts are being made about Paula Deen having used the ‘n’ word. Some are articles updating us with minute by minute information regarding the accusations made toward her and her defense of them. Some are humorous posts and memes that make fun of her. Some are rants by people who do not understand just why this is headline news.
But nowhere are there discussions about racism itself.
Even today, some 60 years or so after the civil rights movement, people are still unclear as to just what racism is. Many people confuse racism with prejudice. Prejudice is the forming of an unfavorable opinion based on color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. with no actual knowledge or experience of the person or people specifically. Racism is where one believes that there is a difference in races, and that one is superior to others (usually their own). Other races are viewed upon with hate or intolerance.
That is a big difference. Yet people fling the terms around interchangeably, accusing this person or that person of being racist when they are in fact prejudiced or saying that someone is “just prejudiced” when they are indeed racist. And in doing so, they destroy everything that was worked and fought to achieve some 60 years ago. The truth is that when it comes to racism, it is still alive and thriving today and it is because people don’t even know what it is that they are doing or not doing.
The problem is not that people need to empower words or ignore words or “get over it” or just accept it. The problem is not that people have gone from gaining rights to wanting to repress free speech. The problem is not one-sided. The problem is that no one wants to talk about it anymore. No one wants to have civil and calm discussions about just what it is, why it is, or what is wrong with it. People either avoid the subject completely or wish to use it as a ball bat with which to attack people. People want to sweep it under the rug and become defensive or offended if someone drops the big “R” card into a discussion.
Why is it that people cannot rationally discuss and help one another understand just what it is that they are doing or perceiving? Why is it that we spend hours upon hours talking about Paula Deen, who truly has zero effect on our lives, but we cannot spend hours asking why people are so prejudiced against Muslims or why it is that racism is overlooked daily from people who happen to not be famous? Why is it that we can talk about Paula Deen, and yet we cannot talk about ourselves or the fact that racism still lurks in entire communities within our country?
Why is it that those who have these views of racism or prejudice suddenly feel that those who speak out about it are the ones committing the offense? And why do we tolerate this? Why do we get angry or just drop it when we could all talk constructively about it? How hard could it possibly be for one to hear or say the words “Perhaps you should really just rethink that? Perhaps you could just step outside of your belief box for a few minutes and consider this other view.”
And why not?
Why is this not a topic that still belongs in our living rooms and at our dinner tables if it is indeed something that still exists? Why not just make it a priority to address? Why not just make it clear that people need to stop and ask themselves if what they are saying or assuming is going to hurt another human being? As a matter of fact, why not just agree to all be human?
Racism IS indeed alive and well. And prejudice is thriving in our country. Education on the matter, along with the ability to recognize them and know the difference, is a necessity-not something to avoid.
When it comes to the subject of racism, it is time that we all step out of the box that we’ve been in. Obviously, for some 60 years or so it has not worked.