Let’s Stop Calling it “Racism” and Call It What it Really Is
It’s Oppression. So let’s call it that — and stop giving the #alllivesmatter crowd ammo for their rebuttals.
Like many bleeding-heart liberals who were born Caucasian in America, I spent a decent amount of time this weekend reading and gathering information about the terrible tragedies in Minnesota and Louisiana. I spent some time nodding in agreement, and some time shaking my head in shame as well.
But as I read through the various digital Molotov cocktails hurled from one trolling group of ignoramuses to another, a thought occurred to me:
How much time, effort, and frustration could be saved if blacks and white progressives stopped referring to the problem as “racism” and started referring to it as “oppression”?
The reason I say this is because ultimately what I see and her from the ocean of semi-rural, mostly right or center-right leaning white mouths that surround me is something like this: “hey, it’s also racist when black people are marching for affirmative action, and they’re insulting white people, and I didn’t own slaves, and I work hard and….” I usually stop listening around that point. But you get the picture.
Please forgive them, for they know not what they do. They fail to understand that the problem we talk about when we talk about racism is not merely an idea, viewpoint, or single action. It is not a cute little bias held by some people wearing white sheets or swastika armbands. It’s not about what some individuals say on the internet or in comments sections on local news sites. (note: no comment is ever worth reading in those comments sections)
What is really at issue is the systemic and selective oppression of an entire race, and exploitation of their disadvantage. The after-effects of it continue to operate in all areas of society today. They would still be felt for some time even if every on-black person magically stopped having conscious and unconscious biases about black people. The momentum of that kind of long-running oppression takes a long time to slow. But sadly, few non-blacks (and likely some black folks as well) fail to realize that.
White dudes in the comfort of their Herman Miller Aeron chairs can post all the YouTube videos they like about white people who have died, and all of the racist things that random black people have said. They may be successful in proving that there are racist folks of both skin colors. But they will never be able to show that there is a systematic oppression of white folks by a system run primarily by people of color. The evidence just isn’t there.
So, friends, the next time you find yourself writing or speaking about racism, use this simple hack: replace the term “racism” with “oppression”. If you like, you can dress it up a bit and used “institutionalized oppression with centuries of laws and norms behind it”. I would estimate that many of your least fruitful arguments about racial justice will be prevented from starting. You can thank me later.