The Levels of Racism and Anti-Racism

Compare the words of a racist, a non-racist, and an anti-racist. What perspective best helps us to accomplish social change?

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The racist says:

“We elected a black man for president for 8 years and he didn’t do anything about police brutality. Even he couldn’t end racism. If black people don’t want to deal with police brutality, they should stop committing crimes. The real problem is black on black crime. 

My history and heritage are being wiped out by extremists. Confederate statues are part of America’s history and should be protected. We have black history month, but white history is never celebrated. If it’s okay to have black pride or Mexican pride, it should be okay to have white pride too. 

Every year, the percentage of white people goes down and pretty soon white people will be in the minority. I didn’t have slave owners in my family and besides, we ended slavery a long time ago. I’m sick of hearing about it. Let’s talk about the ways I’ve been targeted or denied opportunity because I’m white. White lives matter.”

The non racist says:

“I don’t see color. I only see people’s hearts. I treat everyone the same. If we all had more love in our hearts, the world would be a better place and there would be no more racism. As newer generations emerge over time, racism will naturally be erased. 

I know I’m not a racist because I don’t hate anyone and I have black friends. The fact that we elected a black man for president shows how far we have come against racism. Anyone in this country can achieve what they want if they work hard enough. Look at such-and-such black celebrities. I help the black community through volunteering at the food bank.  

But still, some black people don’t accept that my intentions are pure. I don’t know if I want to keep working on helping black people if they’ll never trust me. I support ending racism, but I think taking a knee at the national anthem is disrespectful and there’s no reason for rioting or looting. There are other ways to speak out. 

Obviously, I think slavery was wrong but I don’t think we need to tear down historical monuments. That’s just how life was back then. Those confederate soldiers were fighting for state’s rights. With the industrial age coming shortly, slavery was about to end anyway. God says that each life is precious. We are all the same under our skin. All lives matter.”

The anti-racist says:

“I see you and I know that because you are a person of color, you have lived experiences that I can’t personally relate to. I know that you have experienced institutional and systemic racism your whole life that has taken a toll on your physical and emotional health. Chances are, a loved one has been taken out of your life through imprisonment or death directly caused by systemic racism. 

I know that you have been told that America is a land of opportunity and that any individual can achieve anything they want, but that you have been thwarted at every turn. I know that having confederate monuments and flags is offensive. The American history that we have been taught is whitewashed and doesn’t tell the whole truth. I know that expecting people of color to be a racial bridge or to end racism is absurd. The responsibility to end oppression lies solely with the privileged class. 

I know that I need to put aside my defensiveness because it’s not about me. I know that I will need to sit down and shut up so that I don’t suck all the oxygen out of the room. I know that equality doesn’t exist until we all have it. It is my civic responsibility to work to end the power structures put in place that oppress others. Black lives matter.”

A non-racist is racist-lite. If you’re a non-racist, you’re still a racist.

Don’t be a racist.

Jenica Roenneburg is an artist and quality of life coordinator for memory care residents. Her diverse life experiences, combined with her B.A. in psychology and voracious appetite for learning have given her a lifelong passion for social and racial justice. She loves cats, reading books, and playing video games.