Below is an insightful piece by my best friend and college roommate, Maddie. She offers a fresh perspective on racism in America today. She is currently earning her master’s degree in school counseling. Make sure to check HEAD BITCHES IN CHARGE for more guest posts from Maddie in the future!
“Though there are many, many people who would disagree with me, I firmly believe that racism is alive and well in the United States, and around the world. In many cases, this is not the outright racism of generations past, characterized by segregation, genocide, and the outspoken public opinion that White people are superior to all others (though it should be noted that violent racial crimes still occur daily), but a quieter, more conniving racism that lurks in our everyday lives, and goes mostly unnoticed by Whites like myself. However, if we take a moment to stop and open our eyes and our minds, it is obvious that racism has permeated almost every aspect of life in the United States.
The simple and irrefutable truth is that we are a nation of contradictions. We pride ourselves on our “melting pot” philosophy, while simultaneously committing daily acts of racism and microagressions towards all those members of our nation who aren’t White. Numerous social experiments show that Whites are often served before African-Americans and Latino/as at restaurants and stores, even if the latter was there first. Whites continue to have much higher average incomes, education levels, and general social statuses, even though time and time again it has been proven that there is no difference in intellectual or genetic capabilities that make whites superior in any way. (The fact that I just had to write that sentence actually makes me physically ill). We boast about the “American Dream,” touting that if you work hard enough you will be successful in this country, but then systematically force racial minorities into menial and dead-end jobs. It’s no secret that there is a glass ceiling for all non-Whites in this country, but Whites pretend not to see this. Instead, we reiterate our tired notion that anyone can get ahead in life if they just work hard enough. In plain terms, we chalk up the huge poverty rates and under-employment among minorities to laziness.
Newsflash, people: IT’S FUCKING NOT. Crack open a book, do a google search, or even just talk to ANYONE from any minority group. Many people from minority groups work two to three jobs to support their families. Women from minority groups are much more likely than White women to hold down a full time job while also caring for children. And perhaps most shocking of all to those who don’t know better is that the majority of people in this nation who receive welfare benefits are in fact (rural) Whites. Many times, the true cause of the staggering poverty rates is that minorities are continuously beaten down from climbing the social ladder by racial profiling that prevents them from ever getting ahead. Though not all White Americans take part in systematic racial profiling, most of us choose to either ignore it, deny it, or have no idea that it’s even happening.
Basically it boils down to this: Why are we still having this conversation? How is it even possible that it is 2014 and our society is still operating from racist notions about minorities? Based on an informal poll I conducted, I discovered that the majority of White people do not view racism as an issue in the United States. However, almost every person from a minority group (Black, Latino/a, and Asian-American) stated that they “strongly agree” that racism is an issue in the U.S. They’re not wrong. Every day, minority groups in the United States must live with the unspoken and crippling truth that White Americans have always held almost one hundred percent of the political, financial, educational, and social power and privilege in the United States. Pardon my French, but this is bullshit. If these problems are not fixed, if White Americans don’t start to realize their White privilege and work with minorities to fix our broken social system, then we might as well change our slogan from “The Great American Melting Pot” to the “Great American Taco Dip” where White-Americans get to be the easily accessible delicious cheese at the top, and minorities are all the way down at the bottom of the dish where no one dares to go for fear of breaking their tortilla chip.
Hopefully, our generation or our children’s generation can put an end to this quiet racism once and for all. Think about it like this: Judging a person based on the color of their skin is the exact same thing as judging a person based on the color of their eyes. Imagine how ridiculous it would be to go around telling people that those who had green eyes were superior to those with brown and blue eyes. It’s equally ridiculous to do this with skin color. It’s a body part, people. Body parts come in different colors. Get the fuck over it. Once we open our eyes and minds and realize how juvenile it is to judge another person, and then to systematically stop them from the highest levels of success they are able to achieve, solely because of their skin color, we will feel sick to our stomachs, ashamed of our ignorance and will demand change.”