Those Dirty Words - Systemic Racism
Updated: Jul 20
The answer - systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/ prejudice).
Photo: New York Times
Without a doubt, Black folks around the world who watched the penalty shootout in the England-Italy EURO 2021 final, knew what would happen if certain players didn’t score. Regardless of which team we supported, we anticipated & braced for the onslaught of racist feedback that would surface in the hours after England’s defeat. The Black players were even more aware that they were playing for their race as well as their nation. Why would a unrelated people from different nations and cultures (who identify as Black) expect such behavior from the global community? Systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/prejudice).
Why is it that Anti-racism voices and actions (taking the knee) are constantly being drowned out by ever increasing acts of overt racism, for which no one is held accountable? Systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/prejudice).
Statements from companies & institutions denouncing racist behavior from are becoming a source of resentment for people of color in the US (BIPOC), in the UK (BAM) and and those who identify as a racial minority elsewhere.
“We don't tolerate racism”, “Perpetrators should be held accountable”, We support our minority colleagues" are cliché and underwhelming in their response and impact. What many minorities really hear is “Yes, it’s a shame, but nothing will change” Why? Systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/prejudice).
I noticed that most of the outcry about the EURO final’s racist attacks came from people from the majority culture (White people). They shared their outrage and disgust on hoping it would go just as viral as the racist comments. It’s as if we heard a collective gasp of horror from the audience, the first time they experienced the reality of racial prejudice. Why is the majority’s frustration now so palpable? Systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/prejudice). Many well-intentioned fans shared their pride of a team’s effort and pledged their support for the black players. For those of us on the receiving end of racism, we know that the roots of prejudice, bias and injustice reach much deeper than surface level bigots who wear their ignorance like a badge of honor. Yet the majority population seems to focus on that comparatively benign caricature as the source of racist evil. So it all gets a little uncomfortable when the majority population witnesses the irrefutable signs of systemic racism, but are still in denial as to how they play a part in it. Quite the paradox -especially as people awkwardly try to distance themselves from racism, by providing unsolicited explanations as to why they are not racist to their POC colleague, friend, acquaintance. “I’m sorry for our nation’s/company’s/organization’s history and current behavior - but for the record, I’m not racist.“ You are not doing yourself any favors by doing this. Why are folks making disclaimers that they are not racist? Systemic racism aka (systemic injustice/ bias/prejudice).
The first of a series on systemic racism. Next, we’ll dissect how systemic racism has become an inextricable part of society.