Racism is the problem – not race

Kim Robinson
South Africa

Race exists. Race is a social construct. To assert that because race is not a biological phenomenon and therefore, there is no reason to discuss racism or that discussing it perpetuates racism is an insult to the people that experience unfair racial discrimination and live with the legacy of unfair racial discrimination. Racism is at core about institutional power to determine who is included or excluded with respect to the benefits and opportunities of a given society. While racial prejudice may manifest between individuals, the core of racism is power that is exercised by individuals consciously or unconsciously through institutions and systems to exclude unfairly or discriminate unfairly. The current operation of the US criminal justice system that disproportionately imprisons Black people is one example. We will only have a chance at overcoming racism if we talk about race and racism and act positively what emerges from those dialogues – inner dialogues with ourselves, dialogues within communities, and dialogues between communities. Speaking about race is not problematic. Every aspect of race is not negative.For example, one aspect of race is that of the creation of some sense of community with others who share my race (I am a Black American). There are understandings that we might share that require no translation because of common experiences from our experience as Black people. This is a positive. Racist jokes, innuendoes, images, stereotypes, and practices are problematic. Race is not inherently problematic. I do not want to live in a world where racial difference is obliterated. I want to live in a world where we understand that all people are the same AND all people are different and we live respectfully with one another and our differences.

 

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