Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Why focus on racism?

Why focus on racism specifically, if racism is really just a pattern of elitist behavior? Because focusing on racism can help our society reflect on our worst behaviors of elitism, while paying down the debt our society owes to empirically disfavored groups.

Addressing racism can help address other political and social issues, but not vice-versa:
Addressing racism can teach us how to solve our most pressing social inequities in education, the economy, and our communities. But, we cannot address racism if we do not specifically name it.  Addressing racism can help us to address other forms of elitism, including political extremism, sexism, tribal, and LGBTQ issues. However, the reverse is not true: we cannot address racism by addressing political extremism, sexism, tribal or LGBTQ issues. 

In fact, political extremism, sexism, LGBTQ, and tribal issues have gotten special attention over the years, while addressing racism remains taboo and risky. 

Independent movements across the nation have risen to challenge extremism in politics, but racism remains a problem in every political movement right, left, and middle. Racism is often lobbed as a weapon -- used as a tool to manipulate support for or against 'the other side' without ever solving any racial disparities or inequalities. 

Women have had celebrity power from Hillary Clinton, Emma Watson, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kate Winslet etc. CEO Tory Burch just started a campaign for 'women's ambition' with several celebrities male and female. 

LGBTQ communities have had major legislative wins in the past few years, and an entire sport boycotted the state of North Carolina to support the trans community. 

Standing Rock had presidential pressure, a celebrity concert from Neil Young, and thousands of veterans show up to support their fight against the XL pipeline. 

Yet, where is the support for black Americans, who suffer the most from elitism in our culture?

Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality against black Americans -- fans boycotted, the backlash was so severe, Kaepernick was pushed out of his place as a quarterback for the 49ers. The Black Lives Matter movement has been labeled 'terrorist' by several public officials. No celebrities organized a show of support for black Americans who have been systematically killed and criminalized in Ferguson. A concert on Broadway to support Black Lives Matter was canceled, because of the Black Lives Matter stance on the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel's treatment of Palestinians.  The BDS movement is supported by several Jewish organizations, national church organizations, and labor groups, but Broadway felt comfortable punishing BLM for their support of Palestinians.

Black Americans are at once asked to stand up for feminism, LGBTQ communities, and other minorities, while their movements are continually co-opted, marginalized, punished, and ignored. Why? 

We refuse to face our racism head on, and find every way to deflect and deny that which is so clear: 

Racism against black Americans is ubiquitous, accepted, and even fervently guarded/violently reinforced by leaders in our communities. This leads to poverty, crime, and violence in our culture. 

How we treat the least favored among us shows our true character. If we want to change our culture of bullying, exclusion, and elitism -- let's start with addressing racism toward our black citizens and work from there. Addressing racism against black Americans can heal our culture. It can help us see our elitist behavior in the most pronounced relief. 

Facing, and changing our behavior toward black Americans will affect how we treat others facing bullying and exclusion. Black American movements for equal rights are continually co-opted, swept under the rug, punished, and ignored.