I implore you to stop not because I am African or Asian or Ojibway. But because I am white, I look white, I talk white. When I witness or hear about racism, the hair on my back stands up, I begin to shake, my stomach aches, my heart sinks down into my bowels. It keeps me awake at night, and if this hatred hurts me it must be far worse for those who are targeted. and perhaps this is the idea – that the masses self destruct in opposition to the other.
I am not saying YOU are racist. I don’t think we set out on our life’s journey to hate. Just as all Moslems are not responsible for 9/11, YOU are not responsible for the woman who was pushed in front of a train because she was wearing a headscarf, the murdered and missing women, the holocaust, or the tone of the US elections. YOU are not responsible for the refugees whose cities have been blown apart, the unarmed teenager who was shot by a policeman, the overworked underpaid workers in Mexico, or increasing inequality that threatens what little democratic opportunity remains.
But you and I are responsible for the words that come out of our mouths, and for how we respond when we witness attacks. We are also responsible for knowing the cost of what we choose to purchase, where it comes from and who is oppressed by its manufacture.
We are responsible for understanding what happens when racism stalks the commons. The first casualty is dialogue. (There is too much pain both sides.) The second is observation. (We prefer not to look too closely at the deep penetrating destruction of hate and the entitlement given to those who assume superiority.) The third is acknowledgement of our own opportunity to heal the small moments.
Racism makes us powerless echoes of our ancestors' fear and pain. Problem solving is shut down like an iron gate when the narrative announces “it’s all their fault”. Racism cripples democracy. Racism alienates us from our human capacity to inquire, to feel empathy and to be compassionate. Racism locks our children into binaries of fear. Racism chooses violence first and smears all privilege with blame and spilled blood.
When we feel entitled to judge those we have never met, based on generalizations spread in media and on the street, racism is the first weapon of mass destruction. It begins as a tiny virus in the reptilian brain and spreads all over the world. It is the greatest servant of the arms industry and the psychopathic ruler. It is the door to war that keeps on spilling blood, making life unbearable and the future into something to dread.
So please remember the images of Aleppo and Auschwitz before you shout racial slurs on a bus or laugh at a friend’s jokes or click “like” in the comments field.
Racism is the most destructive and disabling fantasy of white supremacy.