We as a society have been through the abolition of slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, LGBT movements and two massive World Wars that have changed the narrative of our world. Yet, as a country where we pride ourselves on our equality, democracy and human rights, we still have a major social issue with systemic racism and the media has had a big hand in perpetuating that.
Recently, Daily Mail reported that Munroe Bergdorf, a model, DJ and activist, was fired by the French company L’Oreal, for a Facebook post where her blunt comment: “All white people are racist.” was deemed by the company to be “… at odds with [company] values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her.”
Though she states that all white people are involved with racial violence, she clarified what she said in another post, breaking down exactly what she meant by that comment and actually presenting credible facts and a stronger argument.
So let us talk about white privilege and it’s roots behind systemic racism in the United States. In a country where the Civil Rights movement was only accomplished about 60 years ago, there are still obviously a lot of people alive who were against this movement, as is evident in the recent Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. Turns out there are still a lot of Confederate supporters and white supremacists around in our country.
As a first generation Hispanic with fairly light skin compared to most of my family and other Hispanic friends, I can honestly say that systemic racism is real and that is because I have played a part in it without truly realizing what I was doing. As much as I have never felt unprivileged due to my race, possibly because of my light skin tone, I have certainly felt more white than Mexican in society.
When I was a teenager I was one to fear an older Black male if I was walking down the street alone than if a White male would have done so. I have been the one to catch myself thinking a group of Black guys were up to no good while a group of white guys are possibly just having fun.
Why have I thought like this and why have these thoughts even popped up in my head in the first place? I can’t help to say that a lot of this influence was from the media that fed into my head. The stereotype scenes in movies and TV shows is what’s adding onto the systemic racism. Just like Bergdorf has stated in her post that, “… western society as a whole, is a system rooted in white supremacy.”
To claim that the system is rooted in white supremacy is a bold statement that needs to be clarified. Just like America, many countries to this day have been taken over in the past via colonization and genocides. However, around these times, a pseudoscience theory known as scientific racism was popularized to explain away guilt and reinforce that it was very easy for Europeans to conquer indigenous communities. This basically stated that white people were far more advance in evolution than indigenous people because of physical structures and social behaviors. Scientific racism wasn’t truly denounced until the end of World War II.
This means it was less than 100 years ago that people were still believing it was a scientific fact that white people were a dominant race.
This is why the system we live in is rooted in white supremacy. It is our country’s history that was built on and by dominating a foreign race. We have fought in recent decades to end racism and we have accomplished a whole lot, but it is still living in our society in many forms of microaggression and some macro.
I have had friends come to me and tell me their story of being treated unfairly because of how dark they are or being upright told racist remarks because of their skin color.
This does not surprise people anymore because it is well known that skin color has mattered in many people’s lives. Just looking into the news we can see that Black people are being killed in a higher rate than white people. That Black people have a higher chance of being pulled over by a police officer than a white person.
This is not new information, this old and it is really getting too old. It has been known that the San Bernardino shooting that happened in 2015 was a terrorist attack. Yet the mass shooting that took place in South Carolina with a white supremacist that shot down a Black community church, was not announced as a terrorist attack.
Even though white privilege still exist, many people have been playing a part in the systemic racism. It is not just white people versus Black people, it involves all races and a lot of us are guilty of discriminating and being prejudice amongst each other due to our skin tone or other physical features.
I would like to believe that we would not go as far as to hurt someone because of this but we for sure have gone far enough to make fun of someone or comment on someone due to their race. I can’t say it is easy for people of color to be racist but I can say many can feed on the hate within the system by expressing discrimination and prejudice behavior towards other races. It isn’t hard to find videos of white people being racist towards Black people or people of color but it isn’t hard to also find videos of people of color attacking or expressing hate towards white people.
Whether we believe in white privilege or not, there is still an obvious inequality within the social system. Just like Munroe Bergdorf mentioned in her post, there is a corrupt social system that allowed division and inequality to arise within our communities. It was ignorance and hate that was expressed by white people in history towards people of color and it is still seen today but at times within other races, not just white people.
So why would we want to use the same weapon that ruined us in the past and use it in the present? Why are some people trying to fight fire with fire when we were given the element of water to extinguish the pain? Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t hate his enemies, he loved them. He didn’t see them as a certain race, he saw them as a human being. A human that not only knows pain and love but that is always capable of change if they want to make the effort.