Follow Up on Race and Racism (hat tip to Trivium)

Trivium offers some more thinking and questioning about race and racism in response to reading a brief piece I wrote about a verbal encounter in Toronto and a longer piece Hafidha wrote about a friend’s commentary during dinner.  I appreciated being able to read (hear) the thoughts, and they brought up some more impressions.  This is not necessarily a response to Trivium, but just some more reflections.

I hear the belief that any racialized comment coming from any person is a form of racism.  Absolutely.  However this perspective I see as a red herring when we are seeking to create a race positive/racially just community.  It has a lot of truth on an individual level, and it needs to be addressed as Trivium states. 

The consciousness raising around language and attitudes needs to be complemented with a look at the roots of language and attitudes.  Simply reacting to oppressive comments is a band aid to the larger issues, at least from my experience with People of Color and Anti-Racism.  I also find powerfully damaging knee jerk liberal (and more strategic conservative) reaction of attempting to render race (and sometimes by extension culture) meaningless through a colorblind philosophy.

The power of oppressive comments is proportional to the context of people’s identity, the socio-economic history of these identities, and personal experience around the identity.  What I feel is often forgotten by the "privileged class", whatever that identity may be, is the overwhelming history and personal experience that is passed down from family members, community leaders, and more through literature and media which educates and organizes oppressed peoples.

I experienced this through my work in the Women Studies department at the University of Oregon, through some really intentionally listening to Women and Trans People, and from participating in the Welcoming Congregation program.  I think it is similar for People of Color.

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