Historically and still today…the evidence is overwhelming…A huge nationwide study of 10s of 1000s of companies estimates conservatively that 1/3rd of the time, when people of color are out on a job search, they are the victims of discrimination. That effects about a million to 1.2 million people of color a year. That’s not a minor consideration.
So, if we’re gonna to have a talking about housing, or employment, or education, or wealth, or the criminal justice system, we have to start with the reality that the disparities are real, and that in part, they are significantly caused by racial discrimination — that’s the starting point.
…The biggest problem that we have to get over is “white denial,” though, and I say that as someone who has studied that for a long time. Even in the early 60s, BEFORE the Civil Rights Act was passed, Gallup Polls found that 2 out of 3 white Americans thought that black Americans had FULLY equal opportunity.
Now, obviously, that’s absurd, but that’s what otherwise descent, sane, intelligent people thought even then. So…the hurdle for a lot of white Americans, and even some folks of color, is THERE. But the evidence is the evidence. I encourage people that are skeptical to look at the data…the footnotes, look at the data and decide for themselves.
#2: Being color-blind, or “color mute” is not an option.
Julian Bond, civil rights legend, really says it best, “To be blind to color is to be blind to the consequences of color,” (i.e., racism).
Let me give you an example:
If I’m a teacher right now in the state of Arizona, and I’ve got a lot of Latino kids, I can’t be “colorblind” or blind to the role that their identity plays in their life, because there are right now in the eyes of some, not all…under suspicion as if they shouldn’t even be there, as they don’t belong. If I’m a teacher, and I’m gonna meet the needs of those kids, I’ve got to know where they are. I can’t have this idealized version of life that says, “race doesn’t matter to them,” because IT DOES.
As a parent (I have two kids), if you don’t TALK to children ABOUT RACISM, both PAST AND PRESENT, they grow up — they can look around and see the disparities — they can see that who has what is often about color, who lives where is often about color — if you don’t provide the context for that, you know what happens, those kids grow up, according to the research, to believe that those disparities are A) natural, which is a dangerous thought, or B) that the folks on the bottom are there because…they don’t try hard enough, their bad people, they aren’t as smart as the rest of us.
So, really, “color blindness” or being “color mute” can actually feed racist perceptions.
#3: We all have a stake in combatting racism and racial
inequality. That is, people of colors’ progress HELPS
“This is critical, especially for getting over that problem of [white] denial…a lot of times we…worry that…if people of color make progress it’s gonna hurt white folks.
The fact is…racial inequity is DANGEROUS for all of us. In about 30/35/40 years…about half the [U.S.]population will be people of color, the other half will be white people. There is NO WAY that we can maintain a healthy, productive economy and society if one half of society has double the unemployment rate, three times the poverty rate of the other half, 1/10th the wealth, 8 years less life expectancy, double the infant mortality of the other half…we [MUST] worry about the racial disparity of the other half, and the racism that is, in part, responsible for them…because otherwise the whole society is not going to functional because of the racial inequity of the other half.”
Brown Eyes-Blue Eyes Experiment – “The Angry Eye”
By Ms. Jane Elliot