Racism Matters: What Can We Do to Stop It

“WE’RE HANGING NOOSES TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT TIMES HAVEN’T

CHANGED” a poster exclaims outside the Mississippi State Capitol.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is currently investigating this act of racial hatred. Unfortunately, racist acts, such as this one, are not the purview of radical extremists. CNN, The Washington Post, and other media platforms have reported that Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi’s Republican runner for U.S. Senate, was caught saying that she would sit next to a supporter of public hangings. In 2017, the FBI, reported 7,175 hate crimes to Uniform Crime Reporting, up 17% from the previous year. While we hear about these shocking hate crimes through the media, there are numerous other racist acts and disparities present in our everyday lives. Consider the following statistics:

 –According to a 2017 report published by the Kaiser Foundation, 8 % of whites are impoverished in our country, while 20% of blacks are impoverished.

– Christina Novoa and Jamila Taylor, researchers for the Center for American Progress, report that in 2018, 43.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births occur for African American mothers, compared to 14 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for all U.S. mothers.

-The United Negro Fund states that in 2018, schools whose student body is 90% people of color spend $733 less per student per year than schools that are 90% white.

These statistics exemplify that institutional discrimination between black and white students persists. In 2016, Karolyn Tyson published an article titled. “Desegregation without Integration” in the edited book titled Race and Ethnicity in Society, which, documents racial inequities in American schools today. In 954, Brown v. the Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision declared separate schools for black and white students is unconstitutional and ordered schools to be integrated, but over five decades later, students still experience separate and unequal schooling. Racialized tracking within integrated schools places Black students in lower-level classes and White students in higher-level classes, resulting in an achievement gap and a strong message of inferior expectations to Black students. Moreover, Black students who excel in integrated schools often face ridicule for “acting white.”

Racially oppressive acts are not limited to hate crimes or institutional discrimination. They can occur each day, right in front of us, as racial micro-aggressions. Some of our own firsthand accounts include swastikas drawn in residence halls, inappropriate racially motivated costumes, and racial slurs. Such incidents have become a commonplace experience for many people of color. Until White Americans understand the constant discrimination members of ethnic groups face, they will never be able to understand the true depth and effect of these seemingly small acts.

At the same time, there is a difference between feeling guilty and feeling responsible for racial injustice, which has historically become normalized in our society. Many white Americans believe that racial oppression is over. My friends, I am here to tell you, we have a lot of work to do. For us to grow into a person of character and good humanity, we must become a positive ally. As a majority white campus, it is important for all of us to realize our privilege, which we can use to effect positive social change and provide support to those who experience racial oppression. Here are some ways in which you can do so:

● Respect the fact that racism is everywhere in society, and it affects all people. Take it

seriously.

● Be observant and aware of racial injustice.

● Communicate your knowledge about racism and white privilege with others to build a

support system and find likeminded people.

● Take a stand against injustice by taking risks to intervene when racism occurs.

● Be willing to listen empathically without judgement to people’s experiences with racism.

● Don’t be quick to be dismissive or defensive when people tell their experiences with

racism.

According to an expert advocate of racial justice, Paul Kivel, being an ally is not an identity, it is a practice. The recognition of independence and mutuality of interests creates a healthy and caring society. In conclusion, if we practice understanding and construct a healthy environment for all, we can truly succeed as allies in the fight against racism.