Opinion: Does racism still exist?


Dominique Harlan, Review Staff

Feature Photo By: Dominique Harlan – Senior Kuleni Abdo shows off her “Check Your Privilege” shirt, referring to white privilege. Abdo stated, “Racism is still an issue whether people decide to believe it or not. With issues such as the government taking away programs like DACA, affirmative action, and issues like the Muslim ban still happening, it’s incredible to think that these types of issues are still alive in 2017…. Saying ‘check your privilege’ isn’t an insult as people usually take it, it’s a reminder that we need to stand together to cultivate against that kind of behavior.”

As a society, we must address the fact that racism is still around. Unfortunately, not only is it still around, but it is everywhere. The media has gone out of its way to make sure this is portrayed, whether we are watching or not.

After the tragic events of Charlottesville took place on August 14th, a hashtag, #ThisIsNotUs, was drafted

William H. West, a formerly known entertainer, portrays blackface in an advertisement for his minstrel show, “Big Minstrel Jubilee”. Today, blackface is highly frowned upon but still occurs, most commonly seen in Halloween costumes. (Picture provided by Strobridge & Co. Lith)

on Twitter and soon surfaced to #1 trending (for more on what happened and how you can make an impact, click here).

The tag was meant to inform and clarify that the hate that was spread on August 14th was not an accurate depiction of the United States and what we stand for.

#ThisIsNotUs was an extremely poorly drafted hashtag. The more that we decide to mute ourselves and run away from facing the truth, the less progress we make.

Fact is, it has always been us. Since the birth of this country, settlers and founding fathers have gone out of their way to establish this country as the land of opportunity. What was born instead came as result of what was built on top of mass genocide (yeah, I said it), hate, and racism.

Racism was never truly abolished. It is so terribly strenuous to kill ideologies, considering that they never really fade out. It is exhausting to kill the belief that one has more power over a human being simply because of a skin color.

So yes, racism still exists. When it bubbles down to it, racism is the reason why I can be turned away from my job, even though corporations are not allowed to discriminate based upon skin color. It is the reason why I fear getting pulled over by the police. It is the reason why I know I’d have to work twice as hard to earn something for myself over a white person.

An offensive caricature is displayed above, depicting a stereotype of African Americans (for the cover art of the movie Bamboozled). IMDb summarizes the film as, “A frustrated African-American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit.” Caricatures are known for their mocking imagery, but are often viewed as offensive due to their exaggerated nature. (Picture provided by IMDb)

Unfortunately, there will always be a person who believes they are superior, who will go on to teach their children, and their children’s children… so how do you combat racism when it has been beaten down to be a matter of little significance? An issue that is pushed to the side, not prioritized, and swept under the rug?

To begin, the stage of denial should come to a close. People of color should not be ridiculed for pulling out the race card as if the concept of racism is not even an option anymore. Schools should stop teaching it as a thing of the past and relying on textbooks to get the point across.

To be completely and utterly fair, there are some people who are not aware that racism still exists in the United States. So, we must understand how to further inform society on the matter. This means researching extensively and educating ourselves, our peers, and those who need a more in depth understanding of racism and why it still exists.

Lastly, we must make ourselves aware of why racism is not a “that was then” and “this is now” issue, when it is still now.

Let’s talk about Jason Kessler, the organizer of the alt-right rally who is currently in hiding due to an abundant amount of death threats he received after Charlottesville. Apparently he, along with his followers, was trying to defend something called “white heritage”.

White heritage is not a thing. A post I came across on Twitter (author was not named) stated, “A common and seemingly reasonable argument for white pride or white nationalism is ‘why can’t I be proud of my culture?’ Well, you can… We have Irish pride celebrations, we have German drinking festivals, we have Serbian food festivals. Any European culture you can think of.. But, you see, when you start talking “white pride”, that’s not a culture. That’s a skin colour. There is no white culture, never was. There is no pan-European culture, never was.”

Kessler’s excuse of defending something that does not exist was rooted in the idea of being racist and encouraging his followers to be racist. In today’s society, it is harder to come out and be blunt to say you hate a race without being scrutinized.

Thus, the hate is masked. No one speaks of the issues anymore. No one is taught to look deeper into conflicts, so when someone does, they’re “reaching”. A white male can scream white heritage (though he is actually being racist) and the issue is swept under the rug.

The youth is watching very closely. Be the person who makes an impact.

Change is what we want, so progress is what we must first strive for. As Malcolm X said, “If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.”

How can you help?