Words mean things...
Do you ever feel like a lot of us throw around terms like "racism", "equality", and "white supremacy" without fully understanding what they mean? I feel like that is a big part of what makes this work and fighting for change challenging. I don't want to minimize peoples experiences, perceptions, pain, and hate, but at the same time, words mean things. If we have a foundation that helps us better understand each other and what things mean, wouldn't this work and change be even more impactful?
So, let's start defining.
Racism- a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race and a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles and a political or social system founded on racism.
What about "reverse racism"? I think I understand what that question means, but reverse racism does not exist. Can I, as a Black cisgender woman, with many marginalized intersecting identities, be prejudiced to a member of the majority (a white human)? The answer is yes. In fact, I work on my personal biases regularly, but I, as a member of a society who's majorities are identities are outside of my own and truly/historically discriminative and oppressive to me and my intersecting identities, cannot commit the act of racism.
White Supremacy- the Anti-Defamation League defines this as a term used to characterize various belief systems central to which are one or more of the following key tenets: 1) whites should have dominance over people of other backgrounds, especially where they may co-exist; 2) whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society; 3) white people have their own "culture" that is superior to other cultures; 4) white people are genetically superior to other people. As a full-fledged ideology, white supremacy is far more encompassing than simple racism or bigotry. Most white supremacists today further believe that the white race is in danger of extinction due to a rising “flood” of non-whites, who are controlled and manipulated by Jews, and that imminent action is need to “save” the white race.
I think this theme deserves more attention: a full post.
Microaggression- a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority) (Merriam-Webster, 2020).
My life, and many folx I know, have experienced an existence peppered with microaggressions. For me, each act was and unexpected splinter to my core. Some examples of microaggressions I experienced are:
"You're so articulate."
"How did you get that job?"
"I'm sorry Jas, I just don't know how you do it."
Beefing up usage of stereotypes of African American Vernacular English and a "Blackent".
"My chocolate, Nubian, black, goddess!" - quite a few non-Black people
Equality- the state of being equal. Some examples of equality are:
The same exact access to political processes and opportunities for all citizens (e.g. running for office, voting, communicating with elected officials, etc.)
The right to earn equal pay for equal work. If Hadir and I are doing the same amount and quality of work with the same qualification, we should get the same. If I do more and better, I should be compensated for that quality of work and vice versa.
People should not have their civil rights infringed upon by governments, social organizations, and private individuals.
Ensuring that folx of marginalized identities have as equal rights as possible. This can included support through social goods and services, as well as supporting and advocating for civil rights, freedoms, equal access, and property rights.
Equity-the active commitment to fairness, justice, and equality in the formulation of public policy, distribution of public services, implementation of public policy, and management of all institutions serving the public directly of by contract.
Equity also encompasses not assuming a "cookie-cutter" approach to supporting the needs and freedoms of marginalized folx. It is not justice, rather a form of working towards fairness.
Privilege does not negate having experienced hardship.
Privilege does not always mean you set the social norm, it means you benefit from it and it may often times have negative impacts on others.
Privilege contributes all of the themes mentioned in this post.
Examples of privilege:
Rarely being confronted with or having to think about your racial identity (negatively) until the past few years.
Easy access to hair products.
the ability to purchase food that is palatable, doesn't make you sick, affordable, and isn't to you or your culture offensive
Choosing the norms of your group or organization.
Opting out of learning about concepts like gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.
Having regular dental, physical, and mental health care.
Having access to clean water, books, and bed.
The ability to go to a room that is yours, and close the door.
Navigating a world that caters to your physical abilities and/or likeness.
Oppression- unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power (Merriam-Webster, 2020).
It is not a competition.
It is not always physically violent.
It happens in language, art, the doctor's office, etc.
It Is not only applicable to racism.
Examples of oppression:
A community the enforces the expectation that people wear the stereotyped adornments, hair styles, and clothing styles based on their assumptions of a binary gender system. This same community may enforce rules like using the restroom that is dictated to the gender a person was assigned at birth, or separating sporting teams based on a gender binary system selection process. This practice is an example of a social organization oppressing people based on their assumptions on gender.
Race- while many official resources define this as some sort of competition, race is a social construct created to distinguish and separate different groups of humans based on inherited physical features and their assumed inherited characteristics.
It is not the same as appreciating sovereignty or where you came from.
It is not a different way of saying conservative.
It is not the same as patriotism.
It is a practice, system or ideology.
It includes political, social, and economical systems, that are designed to benefit a specific culture.
It is exclusive of other nations and supportive of favored similar cultural/ancestry practices.
Can you see how this might be murky in a society that places value on a particular majority not indigenous to land where Indigenous people are oppressed?
Explore if you have the privilege of having access to information and the internet.
Take a personal inventory of your understanding or words that may upset or confuse you.
Converse with others.
Stay hydrated and volunteer if you can!