Challenging Racism and Fear within Ourselves and Others
The struggle to eliminate racism from our world is an important one. Understanding what it is, understanding the key role it plays in dividing people and how to challenge it, in ourselves and others, is central to our understanding of how oppression works and how, ultimately, we can free all humanity from it.
Racism leaves everyone burdened with distress – not just those people who are targeted by it. People who are targeted by racism have their lives ruined by it and those people who society conditions to be the agents of this oppression are dehumanised by the process too. It is in all our interests to eliminate racism from the planet forever and we all need to understand that we will all benefit personally by doing the work necessary to end racism.
Nothing justifies oppression. The fight to end oppression is about having a just world and it’s about living lives that we can all be proud of. Most of us are not aware of just how much our minds have been messed up by racism. There is much work to do to free our minds of the effects of racism. Only we, each one of us individually, can do this work. No one else can free your mind of the effects that racism has had on you – we can assist each other but only we can take on this battle to free our minds.
It doesn’t make any sense at all to blame ourselves because the oppressive society messed with our minds in the area of racism.
People Targeted by Racism:
In order to recover from the damage that racism had done to their lives, people targeted by racism need the opportunity to do two important things - to get the opportunity to be listen to respectfully and supported while they talk about:
the many different ways that racism has hurt them and their people over the course of their lives
the ways in which they have internalised (begun to believe and act - in relation to themselves and their people) on the false messages that racism promotes (feeling like they are: better than; blacker than; whiter than; more valuable than; more worthy than; etc)
People targeted by racism can help each other to do this and the rest of us can help out too. This is very valuable work that will shift the distortions that are harboured in people’s minds and, if worked on persistently, will free people’s attention and allow them to lead bigger lives.
Agents of Racist Oppression:
As a white person, it’s not possible to grow up in our oppressive society and not be effected by racism – we all get saturated in it. This is not our fault. It makes no sense at all to blame ourselves or other white people because we have been conditioned by our oppressive society to act as the agents of this oppression.
We expend a lot of energy trying hard, especially in the presence of people who have been targeted by racism, to not let our racism show – to not let it ‘leak out’ all over the place. Our minds are full of misinformation and confusions about people who have a skin colour that is different to our own. We have been left with many irrational fears about all sorts of aspects of other peoples’ and their cultures.
We can tackle the racism that afflicts us. There are a number of useful things that we can do. We can:
make a stand against the oppression when we see it being acted out by others
learn as much as we can about the cultures of peoples who are targeted by racism
learn to listen respectfully and support people who are targeted by racism as they recover from its effect by telling their own stories
get together with other white allies and share the stories about what happened to us when we picked up the oppressive material about people who are targeted by racism (it probably doesn’t make sense to expect people targeted by racism to listen to us about this – they have had to endure it every day of their lives)
There are no rational conflicts of interest between any peoples on this planet. There is not rational need for the artificial borders that have been erected over the years to separate different groups of humans. All people deserve an equal share in and access to food, shelter, education, health care and the other necessities of life.
The false divisions created by racism only serve the short-term interests of systems which constantly try to divide us and distract us from seeing the underlying economic exploitation that feeds greed.