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How Do We Begin To Discuss Racism?

The very first thing we need to acknowledge before we move forward is that "racism is this country's original sin", and as a result of this original sin (whether your family were slave owners or not) Whites in this country have enjoyed and been the benefactors of a system of systemic racism that has catapulted them further by crushing the collective souls of Blacks. The reason that I start with this statement of facts is that if you can't first start with that simple irrefutable fact, you can stop reading because your not ready to have a real discussion on racism. Those of you that made it past the first prerequisite lets take a deeper dive into really discussing racism (you can skip to paragraph 3). For those of you that are not quite convinced of this fact let me spend a little time and lay it out for you and maybe we can get you to paragraph 3.

Systemic Racism is a form of racism that is embedded as normal practice within society or an organization. It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power, and education, among other issues. If you are not a racist and if you made it this far I'm going to assume you are not, the next few sentences should provoke you to really want to concede fact number one. If you are not a racist you first must concede that aside from minor physical traits there is little difference between the races. We are all born with basically similar intellectual capacity, work ethic, desires etc. If you don't except me telling you that then I point you in the direction of this NY Times article that lays it out rather brilliantly, but if you except it consider this next point. If systemic racism doesn't exist and Whites have not benefited from it then why are blacks disproportionately represented in prisons, poor or lower achieving schools, poor neighborhoods, poor healthcare facilities, lower social economic class, politics etc. If you concede that our genetics are the same and there is no superior race, then you must also concede that our systems are the reason that one race has such a superior advantage in these areas. It's not meant to be a "gotcha moment". It is just the most effective way to show you that our systems are racist in nature and that to honestly discuss racism these facts must be acknowledged.

Okay so you made it this far. Let's talk about another prerequisite to discussing racism that might chase others away. To have a open and fair discussion about racism we must be willing to concede that although a person may have voted for and/or still supports Trump does not make them a racist. The fact that Trump has made some outlandishly racist statements means he is either a racist or just playing politics on a different level then we have ever seen before. The fact that people still support him can mean a multitude of things. Sure they could be racist and that's why he appeals to them. Racism could just not be a deal breaker for them. Maybe the fear that's being fed to them from the right has really worked. But in any result to move forward on this discussion you must except that as fact. If you can't, then this is where you can jump off the train because it doesn't get easier from here.

The third fact that you have to concede to move forward is that "Dog Whistle Racist Politics" is used by both democrats and republicans to appeal to Whites most basic fears. Simply put Dog Whistle Politics is a coded message communicated through words or phrases commonly understood by a particular group of people, but not by others. The Best example I can give you is this exchange between Lee Atwater a political strategist for Ronald Regan and an interviewer. Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now you don't have to do that. All that you need to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues that he's campaigned on since 1964, and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: Y'all don't quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger". By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this", is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger". So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the back-burner. That is Dog Whistle Politics 101.

The fourth fact that we must accept to have this discussion is that racism isn't exclusive to "bad people" Nazi or Confederate Flag swinging people. Although they are often the most outspoken and loudest of racist they are not the majority of racist. In fact most racist are well meaning middle to upper class well educated Whites. Who would otherwise deny being racist at all. This is true because the simple definition of racism is not even close to what we all know to be the functional definition of racism. Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices. This is why it's hard for Whites to understand when it's said that Blacks in this country can't be racist. Simply stated, they lack the power to control the systems necessary to carry out systemic discrimination.

The fifth and final fact that you have to concede in order to have an authentic discussion on racism is that history as you have been taught is in factually incorrect. Or better understood as a big fat lie. Stop! Lets get this out the way before we go any further. A lie is defined as to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive or to create a false or misleading impression. So history as taught was a lie, it was taught as it was to create a false, misleading impression of the country we live in. I bring your attention to the Civil War and how it was taught to us in school. We were all taught in school that the Civil war was fought over taxation,states rights and slavery. What you take away from this is that slavery was one of many issues of the Civil War. That's because by omission of facts, you were in fact taught a lie. The reason for the Civil War plain and simple was Slavery. The states rights to have slaves, the economic devastation that would be caused from declaring slaves free, and laws that forbid slaves that escaped from having to be returned to their owners. But don't take my word for it, read here Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens reasons for secession from his famous Cornerstone Speech. Stephens tied slavery to race, making clear that the cornerstone of the Confederacy was not merely chattel slavery, but also on the assumption of the racial and ethnic superiority of the ruling class and the utter inferiority and subordination of blacks.

Thus Stephens declared that, “Our new government is founded upon . . . its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery – subordination to the superior race – is his natural and normal condition.” Stephens denounced the northern claims (which he incorrectly attributed to Thomas Jefferson) that the “enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.” He unabashedly asserted: “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea.” Stephens argued that it was “insanity” to believe “that the negro is equal” or “that slavery was wrong.” He proudly predicted that the Confederate Constitution “has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution-African slavery as it exists amongst us-the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.”

Thus, for the Confederate Vice President, the “cornerstone” of the new country was slavery and white supremacy and the view that “African slavery as it exists amongst us” is “the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.” If anyone had any doubts what secession was all about, or what the Confederacy was formed to protect, we need also consult Vice President Stephens.

Stephens echoed the Declaration of the Causes of Secession, adopted by the South Carolina secession convention in December 1860. The South Carolina secessionists explained that they were leaving the Union because “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that ‘Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free. And that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.’”

In other words, South Carolina was leaving the Union because Lincoln believed slavery was wrong and should one day – in the far distant future – be ended.

There is a reason that these points have to be conceded before any meaningful discussion on racism can take place. Racism is a complex vortex of intertwining THREADS that in order to unwind has to be carefully disassembled from the base. I say this because of the fragility of the people in power that have to relinquish and abolish the system in order for meaningful gains to take place. So simply put if you are unable to concede these most basic facts on racism you therefore disqualify yourself from any meaningful discussion. You are too fragile to accept the most basic of irrefutable facts on racism and thus the more complex issues surrounding racism and the more abstract concepts involved in the political party of "White Supremacy" will surely be impossible for you to accept and ultimately engage in the dismantlement of it.

As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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