Reading Racism: The Black Experience as Discourse

Despite the influx to which the word racism surfaces in colloquial conversations, the depth of the racism remains a mystery to many. Racism is ever-present in overt yet failed attempts to veil a systemized mind set. Below I will highlight  racist moments from my week, with a description of the scenario and why this is racist. Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

  • Exhibit A: White man assumes authority over the black narrative in doing the following:  a.  refusing to yield the floor to black Women eager to give their own account of their own collective experience and b. speaking for Ralph Ellison, namely alerting Mr. Ellison’s  perspective as if he is the late Ralph Ellison himself.

This is an issue because as a white man, this individual is not Mr. Ellison nor the Invisible Man referenced in a novel of the same title. Therefore, he has no authority or competence to fully understand the text–a sentiment made obvious in the invisibility resulting from the white male dominating the black narrative.

  • Exhibit B: A non-black person of color features examples of black self hatred to substantiate his point.

This is a problem because again, as a non- black, this person, although a minority, reserves a position of privilege over members of the black collective. This privilege surfaces in the symbolic profit issued in examining the issues of another collective, rather than his or her own. This functions to ensure that both whites and non blacks persons of color maintain ideas of superiority over the black race.

Ironically, the footage shared was the doll test where black kids were asked to choose between white and black dolls. In sharing this footage as a non black person of color, this individual, although not a black child, is also selecting a white doll.

  • Exhibit C: “It’s okay.”

Every black person has heard this remark in response to a racist remark or racist behavior. I heard this response while overseas and a white child walked up to me and stared, when a white person shouted the n-word multiple times in my Master’s Thesis course, and most recently upon skeptically approaching a book translated by a white man. This functions in the same way as whites telling blacks who and what constitutes intelligence, success, beauty, education, etc.

This is a problem because it is only “okay” if a conscious person deems it so. It is the place of no white person or non black person of color to tell a black person what is or is not acceptable. This is oppressive, insulting, and inappropriate–and should not be pardoned by any black person.

  • Exhibit D: Redirecting the black conversation

This actually happened twice this week.

A. In speaking of Sojourner Truth, but unable to do so without intertwining the white woman who documented  her speech.

B. Redirecting discourse on black diasporic studies to talk about religious oppression of non-black groups

This is a problem becausewhites and non-black persons, namely many Muslims, the white LGBT community, and white women, implicitly and explicitly oppress black people, but remain adamant about claiming victim status. All groups commonly have an inability to eschew comparing struggles, and belittling the black struggle while doing so.

In Closing…

Tis very hard to navigate the world as a black person. But it’s perhaps more burdensome to view racism without the veil of ignorance.

Black Power ❤

What racism have you experiences this week?