In early 2020, I was motivated to dive back into the news, social media, and much of the happenings of civilization. After three years of trying to ignore a president promoting racism and bigotry, I had an urge to gain a better understanding of our political system. Covid-19 also brought several new challenges to the table. And then a racist member of the Minnesota Police Department brutally murdered George Floyd.
George Floyd repeated ‘I can’t breathe’ as the racist police officer suffocated him. George feared for his life and probably remembered the inhumane murder of Eric Garner by the New York police department in 2014. Eric Garner also repeated ‘I can’t breathe’ as the racist police officer suffocated him to death. George Floyd was hoping that wouldn’t happen to him. He was remembering the racial injustices he faced each day of his life. Several minutes later, after repeating ‘I can’t breathe’, he lost his life because a racist police officer felt like he had the power and the authority to take it. He lost his life because the other officers and people around him felt like they didn’t have the authority to save his life, and they didn’t want to risk their lives or reputations to save him.
As the news began to evolve around that story and the Black Lives Matter Movement, I was motivated to dive right back out of the news, social media, and the happenings of civilization. Although I was disappointed by the situation, I felt too powerless to help solve the problem. As a white man, I was feeling entitled to be living in a safe community, have a good job, and have a loving family. I was hoping that society could overcome this, and within those thoughts I was watering my full and plentiful garden of covert racism seeds.
Covert vs Overt Racism
Covert racism is the acceptance and promotion of the racism our society consistently projects and normalizes. Overt racism is stepping over that line to project disrespect or even hatred towards another race.
Here is how the first covert racism seed grows into overt racism.
- A racist police officer murdered George Floyd, but that was just one incident by a racist police officer who will serve his time in prison.
- George Floyd had a fake 20 and wasn’t as compliant as he should have been.
- George Floyd was probably living off the government anyway.
- Many people like George Floyd are living off the government.
- They should get better jobs and work harder.
- Black people should educate themselves.
- Black people are lazy.
I started researching the evolution of racism, politics, and social policies. I also joined a few Facebook groups to have a better understanding of the racism embedded in our culture. Unfortunately, that pyramid of racism that I previously showed didn’t come close to reaching the top. Here are a few more examples of blatantly overt racism freely and consistently expressed within one of the ‘southern pride’ Facebook groups I joined:
- “You know what black power can suck my d***”
- “F*** blm white live matter”
- “Let them sit in Democratic cities and starve!”
- “Block them off and watch them wither”
- [Insert your guess for what a racist police officer might think as they are suffocating a black man here]
How does it feel to put yourself into the deepest hole of racist thought?
It makes me feel sick.
Humanity Has a Steep Hill to Climb
As sickening and depressing as it was to be in that group, I needed it for two reasons.
- I felt much better about myself for being less racist.
- I realized substantial change is necessary to reach anywhere near equality.
The two groups I joined each had approximately 100,000 members. They let me in, I made several comments and started a few arguments, and I posted the following video:
The video is a great presentation of the evolution of racism in America. Slavery evolved into segregation. Now segregation has evolved into laws, habits, policies, and district lines that give a substantial disadvantage to communities of low socioeconomic status, especially black communities.
Most group members just wanted to see a short hate quote, and didn’t have the time or motivation to watch the video. It was one of the few posts in the group with zero comments. The worst part about this whole situation is the fact that this was not one of the most extreme groups. Their racism hides behind their southern pride. In other groups, there is nothing to hide behind, as they are simply white supremacist, white nationalist, racist.
I reported three of the previous comments within the ‘southern pride’ group for displaying hate speech to Facebook. For two of them, Facebook said they were unable to prioritize my report due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, one of the reports was seen, and here was the response I received from Facebook:
We didn’t take down —‘s comment.
Daniel, we reviewed the comment that you reported and found that it doesn’t go against any of our Community Standards.
For this reason we didn’t take the comment down. We keep our review process as fair as possible by using the same Community Standards to review reports.
Clearly, Facebook’s community standards are worthless.
Unfortunately, the ‘community standards’ built within the laws and social norms of the United States are comparable to that of Facebook.
Quote of the Year: “I Am Not Racist”
But luckily for me, I can feel good about myself because I am not racist. The ‘white lives matter’ proclaimers are racist. Several communities occupying the same social media platform I occupy are racist. My president is racist. But I am not racist.
So what am I saying here? Nearly every activity and thought that I have is embedded within a community and country supporting racism, but I am not racist. Inequality and racism both thrive all around me, but since I don’t kill black people or make derogatory comments, I am not racist.
I could not understand the true depth of racism embedded within our society until I watched the documentary ‘13th’.
I could not see the impact racism has on successful black businessmen until I read about the business experiences of Will Hayes.
The biases embedded within me still have me convinced I wasn’t racist, but now I have motivation to be Antiracist.
Continued Denial of Racism
I left the racist Facebook groups. There was just too much ignorance and hatred to overcome. I decided to move on to people who were capable of changing, my own friends. I grew up in a town of white privilege. One of my friends from high school re-posted something originally from the Facebook group, Dixie Rose (Image 1).
First of all, the black lives matter movement has never asked white people to apologize for being white. I asked him to remove the post, but his response was “they are only words. They can’t hurt you I promise.” And then the conversation evolved into a long debate with many more friends and family. Comments including, “We can’t delete history; this is the land of the free; exercise your rights,” etc.’ continued. I was eventually called a racist because I asked for the post to be removed.
Racism is more deeply embedded than I thought.
I left the conversation with my Facebook friends who claim not to be racist. Clearly, there was just too much blindness to overcome. I decided to move on to people capable of change, my own family. My parents both when to a high school still evolving from the end of segregation laws lifted in 1964. Although black people were allowed to be in the same classroom as privileged white people, the consistent discrimination they continued to experience through the seventies motivated several riots and hard feelings.
My grandmother worked in the racially integrated school systems and continues to donate her time to local food pantries. She has emphasized the importance of valuing and promoting education to overcome inequality. My mother has been involved with the churches as well as teaching in schools within racially diverse communities. She has emphasized the importance of faith and discipline to overcome inequality. My father has successfully evolved his business with over 40 years of hard work, and he has emphasized the importance of hard work and dedication to overcome inequality.
Inequality Is Deeper Than Personal Choice
I agree that values are important. I am also starting to see the discrimination embedded in television, entertainment, and the news to name a few. These sources highlight specific instances when black individuals do not pursue education, discipline, hard work, or dedication enough to overcome inequality. These sources overlook several instances when specific white individuals and communities enforce the racism that denies equality. While I agree that every person has an opportunity for success, fewer opportunities are offered to racial minorities. Especially for minority groups who also face the consequences of poverty, opportunities have always been few and far between (Table 1).
|The Black Reality||The White Reality|
|Slaves were given nothing when they were freed from slavery.||Colonials had money to purchase slaves when they came to America, ‘The land of the free’.|
|Black people were segregated into the lands of inopportunity when they were freed from slavery||White communities enslaved them with jail sentences for discriminatory crimes such as walking, eating, and sitting.|
|Black people were granted slightly more legitimate freedom with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.||White racists who opposed the Civil Rights Movement mocked and murdered antiracist leaders including MLK Jr., Malcom X., Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn, and many more.|
|Black people were targeted for petty crimes, excluded from wealthy areas, denied financial opportunities, and overcharged for all means of living.||Privileged white people continue to support racial profiling, the war on drugs, biased school and community funding, financial power, and the vilification of black communities.|
Police continue to disproportionally target, arrest, fatally shoot, convict, and sentence black citizens. Our overcrowded and inhumane prisons maintain the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Although drug sales and drug usage rates are equivalent between black, latino, and white communities, only 20% of federal prisoners and 40% of state prisoners are white.
Our racist discipline measures start in school systems at a young age. Black males being three times more likely to be suspended, and black females being over four times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. Schools with 90 percent or more students of color spend $733 less per student per year than schools with 90 percent or more white students.
Yet, we claim to not be racist. Some even chant, “white lives matter” and “all lives matter” as the black community sees another black citizen murdered by the law enforcement officers their taxes are supporting. We judge another black person for dying, probably because they were acting inappropriately. Our government, our laws, and our habits support and justify racism.
It is well past time to offer the liberty and justice we pretend our nation offers.