Racism's hard to perceive when you've been exempted from it.

by Liam C. on October 2, 2014 - 9:04pm

In Kali Holloway’s article “Racism is so insidious, even black people underestimate it”, posted by the guardian on September 29th, 2014, the author underlines people’s ignorance in regards to the true size of racism and it’s pervasiveness in North American society. Her main point in the article is that most americans (generally white people) don’t believe that racism is a real factor in the US, and that many believe it is “entirely made up by black people”, despite all the evidence to prove it. She begins by underlining the effects of racial profiling in context to the justice system. For example, she points out that compared to white citizens, people of color are much more likely to get frisked. She also points out that, even though statistics show that white Americans are more likely to use illegal drugs, there are many more black citizens who get arrested for the same crime, and that on top of it, they are prone to getting longer sentences than their white counterparts. Even more morbid than that, the “blacker” a person looks, the more likely they are to be sentenced to death. She further underlines the issues that arise when a person with a foreign-sounding name attempts to search for a job, and how much easier it is for them if they simply “Americanized their names”, implying that cultural differences are also picked out to form racial bias. The worst part is, since most white people are exempted from this sort of treatment, racism is invisible to them, and they’re hence ignorant to the potential problems their colored neighbours may be facing in their everyday lives.

 

I believe that she’s got a point, because it’s true that white people (myself included) take their privileges and advantages for granted, and aren’t nearly as aware of racism as those who have had first-hand experience. I myself didn’t think racism to be a big deal nowadays until I took this class and began seeing all the real effects of racial profiling, even here in Canada, a country which only a year ago I believed to be nearly free of racism. Her examples of racism are very powerful and relevant to many of our society’s issues today, as well as informative, yet I find it disturbing how the author could point her finger at white people and say they believe that racism is simply made up by black people, especially since the source she gave for the information is related to people who believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore since Obama became president, and not that they believe it was made-up. I’m not saying that no white people believe that racism is made up, because I’m quite certain there are a few who agree, but I believe that in this case the author is over-generalizing the opinion of white people, and some of her assumptions regarding them resemble the same stereotyping that she is trying to condemn.

Holloway, Kali. (2014, September 29th 2014). “Racism is so insidious, even black people underestimate it”. The Guardian. Retrieved October 1st, 2014 from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/29/racism-black-people...

Comments

I totally agree with your text. It is true that people who don't live with racism in their life think that Canada is
free of it. As you said i think most of the white people are not aware of what racism is. But i think that since Obama won his first election racism went smaller in Canada. Obama election's show's to the world that racism is something wrong and something we can fight.

Samuel Rompré

It's great how you went ahead and mentioned how white people, and yourself, take their advantages for granted since it shows a recognition of the problem and its cause. In fact, I do believe it is white people's fault if inequalities and racism are carried out through time. However, I don't believe that our ignorance and inaction is causing the issue. In my opinion, racism is a socially constructed idea that is necessary to some in order to maintain control and power. The article I will refer demonstrates how injustices are often in place in order to stratify society according to ''weaknesses'' or differences, a concept that has been around for ever. http://www.ncddr.org/products/researchexchange/v04n01/power.html

I absolutely love your article! You did a very good job at summarizing the article you found, but what I really liked was your analysis where you supported what the author said with a personal experience. I agree with the points that you have made because although it is much less common, I strongly believe that racism is still an issue in North America. The only thing is that I would have loved to see statistics to support the different examples of racism that the author has given. Without the statistics, it’s hard to know whether the author is simply stating her opinion or is actually providing examples of racism based on specific statistics. I found an article about the number of hate crimes from 1995-2007. It supports the idea that there is still racism against black individuals because the number of crimes towards them is much higher than towards white people. From this we can assume that the white proportion of society does commit more crimes. Here is the link: http://www.publiceye.org/hate/Statistics.html

I found your post to be very interesting and I like your choice of subject and article. I have to disagree on your disagreement with the author in regards to the generalization though. Rather than pointing fingers, I think the point she is trying to make is that racism is far more common than we may think, whether it is something done consciously or not. Social constructs can be so deeply internalized that they may seem natural and innocent behaviors and we fail to see how these can impact our lives. My class on gendered world views has greatly enlightened me on that matter and I think taking a look on how this phenomenon is present in different group categories could help you understand. Here's an article on insidious sexism http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/2013/04/02/benevolent-sex...

The article you mention is very poignant in the way that it addresses how invisible racism and the mistreatment of non-white people in North America has become to privileged parties. A lot of recent events have been bringing these injustices to the surface, like the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which showcased how actors of color aren’t given the same opportunities as their white colleagues. Even then, however, too many people were quick to dismiss the lack of non-white nominees for the Academy Awards as ‘just not being as good’ or saying that they ‘should make better movies/perform better if they wanted to be included.’

I’ve written about the situation of people of color in the entertainment industry on a few occasions, and how many actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Lucy Liu are speaking up about the issue. It’s unfortunate that many white people don’t realize how seriously ingrained in our culture racism has become and how easy it is to overlook situations of injustice.

If you're interested in reading what I've written on the topic, here's a link to my earlier work: http://newsactivist.com/en/articles/champlain-college-2016-newsactivist-...