I Won’t Keep Your Secrets Any Longer

 

One of the scariest stories I ever heard was told to me and several others at a child’s birthday party. Over the ringing bells and music of the indoor rides and video games. Across a background symphony of children laughing, I listened to a police officer brag about taunting a young man as he lay dying in the street.

I don’t remember whose parent he was or even whose birthday we were celebrating. My son was in Kindergarten or first grade at the time and it was the type of party you’re invited to because you are in the same class as the birthday boy or girl. The parents tend to stand around making small talk, holding their coats draped over their crossed arms, and watching to make sure their kid isn’t the one smacking the others.

This particular dad was standing around in a small semi-circle of other parents. I was sitting alone at a table next to them. I don’t remember how the topic came up, because the conversation was banal enough that I wasn’t really paying attention. I want to say it was about particular neighborhoods in the area.

I grew up in one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States of America. It’s also one of the most segregated.

Nobody talks about it though. Not if you actually live there. And are white.

They don’t want to hear words like systemic racism or residential segregation. 

They don’t care that we’re told things like, “Oh, you don’t want to live there,” when searching for an apartment. Nobody comes out and says why you don’t want to live there. If you ask the real estate agents, they talk about things like high crime rates and shitty schools.

The reason you, you lily-white white girl don’t want to live there, is unspoken. They forget, though, that I’ve sat at their knees and listened to what they say when they aren’t in public.

I want to say that it was the talk of certain neighborhoods that sparked this dad, this police officer, to tell his story. He started by saying that if we really wanted to fix crime in our area we would blow this one particular town off the face of the map.

That was when my ears perked up.

He went on to tell his listeners of the time he spent working in that town. In particular, he recalled a drug dealer, a young black male, who was set up by another black drug dealer to pick something up at a house. When he arrived, the door opened and he was shot several times. The police arrived to find the house empty and the young black male in the street. Still alive, but bleeding profusely.

This police officer told all the parents listening of how he and the other officers stood over the young man. They did not administer first aid. He admitted to taunting the man, bending over him to ask, “How does that feel?” as he died.

Nobody seemed shocked by his story. Nobody said anything like, “Dude, that sounds like some cold shit to do to a person who is dying.” They just nodded and kept chatting.

———

I should probably tell you now all the things I left out in the interest of reporting that in as unbiased a fashion as possible.

I left out the word “alleged.”

I wanted to add it several times. As in “alleged drug dealer” and “allegedly set up by another alleged drug dealer.”
But the police officer left out that word as well. Maybe because by leaving the young man to die in the street, he’d become the judge, jury, and executioner. Despite our nation’s constitutional claim of “innocent until proven guilty,” that man’s guilt had been decided on the unforgiving black top of a local street.

I left out the emotion behind the story he told.

Because there was none. The officer never appeared sad. He never acted sorry. He joked. At times, he seemed . . . not gleeful, but as if he were telling a story about his drunk uncle that’s sure to get laughs.
He never used the “N” word. We were in public, after all. He didn’t have to, though. The story was being used as an example of why everybody in that town, a town consisting of a largely (if not entirely) black population, should be, in his words, “wiped off the face of the map.”

I also left out the truth.

Because between his side of the story he told and the dead man’s side of the story which can’t ever be told . . . lies the truth. Something none of us are ever likely to hear.
So I don’t know if what the police officer told is the accurate version of what happened. I don’t know if what he told is just the bragging of a hardened law enforcement officer who is perhaps forever changed at having to watch a young man die at his feet. I don’t know if perhaps he wakes up nights in a cold sweat, haunted by the face of a young man gasping his last breath in a pool of blood. Yes, even if the taunting didn’t really happen, standing around while a young man dies is still some cold shit to do. But I don’t know if maybe there is some type of regulation that prohibited those officers from administering first aid prior to an ambulance arriving. Or if maybe the man was already dead, and the standing around and/or the taunting, if either happened, didn’t matter to his survival anyway.

But I also don’t know if the man was a drug dealer. And if so, why? What drugs did he sell? Was he selling heroin to school kids? Or did he have a bit of a side hustle selling weed to local friends? Does it matter? I don’t know what kind of son he was. What kind of friend he was. If he was a father or not. Or a lover or not. I don’t know if he had dreams of a better place doing something honorable.

There’s a lot I don’t know.

————

There’s a lot I do know.

I know that I grew up in a white neighborhood. I don’t have to say mostly white. It was white.

Full stop.

The entire time I attended school there, Kindergarten through 12th grade, only two black families lived in the district and attended school with me. The district started a business program in the high school and bussed in children from other area high schools and many of them were black. My neighborhood though?

Two families.

Remember the #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag that trended for a while? I know all about that first hand.

One evening, I drove into the city with four friends in my car, hopping from bodega to bodega searching for the one that sold weed. Once we found it, my friend came out with a handful of nickel bags. We made it maybe a block away before I was boxed in by two cars. When I came to a stop, we were surrounded.

No guns drawn. Nobody was even touched. The officers had been staking out bodegas in the area. Had followed us from the previous one to this one.

We were asked to get out of the car. I was never searched. Had I been, they would have found the bags I shoved down the front of my pants. My friend admitted he was the one who bought the weed and he was taken in and booked.

A few hours later, we stopped into the local Dunkin Donuts and saw two officers there from the same precinct that arrested our friend. We asked about him and about how we could help get him out. It was the middle of the night so we figured he wouldn’t be arraigned until morning.
The officers shared the following advice:

“You want to know why you got pulled over? You’re white. In that neighborhood? No white people go to that neighborhood unless it’s to buy drugs. If you want to buy weed and be less conspicuous, go to XXXXX. It’s a more mixed neighborhood so you won’t stand out as much.”

Not only did we not get thrown to the ground and shot, not only were we allowed to walk away with the illegal drugs we purchased, we were handed advice on where to buy drugs the next time we needed some.

————-

Jesse Williams, an actor I had never heard of because I don’t watch television, recently gave a speech at the BET awards.A hardcore, passionate speech calling for black people to learn more about from where they came, to fight for a restructuring of how police forces work in the wake of documented violence against blacks, and encouraging the wealthy people in the room with him to use their money to help bring about change rather than waste it on brands.

I can, in no way, do it any justice. You should watch it.

Justin Timberlake tweeted afterwards, a seemingly benign response about all of us being one. He faced a large backlash from Williams’ supporters who pointed out that not only had Timberlake missed the point of Williams’ speech, but he happens to be a white man who makes a living off of music and dance moves largely derived from black culture. He also happens to be a white man who doesn’t publicly discuss or acknowledge that. (As opposed to an artist like Eminem.)

There went my social media channels, blowing up with outcries from white people about “reverse racism.” There’s even now a petition going around calling for Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, to fire Williams. You can google it if you don’t believe me.

I won’t dignify it with a link.

————-

Here’s the thing.

I’m white. I’ve seen and heard other white people say and do racist things. Yes, racism still exists.

Is it better than it was in the past?

I’d like to think so.

Is it gone?

Not by a long shot.

Is there such a thing as reverse racism?

No, and that’s a silly question.

Racism is endemic. It’s systemic. It’s societal. Are there black people who hate white people just because they are white? Sure.

But that’s not racism.

It’s prejudice. But it’s not racism.

Racism and prejudice aren’t quite the same thing. Racism, rather, is best known as a system in which a racial majority is able to enforce its power and privilege over another race through political, economic and institutional means. Therefore racism can be described as “prejudice plus power,” as the two work together to create the system of inequality.”

Refusing to acknowledge racism is not going to make it go away.

————-

Getting offended every time the black community celebrates black history and/or black culture, is racist.

“Why do they have Black Entertainment Television? If we had a white only channel everyone would be up in arms about it!”

Um, for years every single channel on the television was white only. That’s why.

“What about Black History Month? We don’t have a white history month.”

Have you looked in a history book lately? It’s all white history, all the time. And when you do read of black history, it’s typically about slavery and/or the fight for civil rights.

Can you tell me about a black inventor if I tell you George Washington Carver doesn’t count? Because he’s the only one I was ever taught of during formal schooling. Now, can you name for me some white inventors?

I can list at least a dozen off the top of my head. That’s why.

Why do some white people get so upset when black people celebrate their heritage? Or encourage other black people to take ownership over their culture and be proud?

Where is the societal uproar every time a local Native American tribe holds a powwow? Do white people not care about that because there aren’t as many Native Americans? Does that make them feel less threatened?

My stomach turns when I see people I went to high school with posting garbage that argues against black culture being celebrated. I grew up with them. I know first hand the white privilege with which they were raised. Having moved out of that area, I know that my own children are not getting the caliber of education I and my schoolmates were lucky enough to have received.

Why can’t people admit that their experience is not the only one? We all walk very different paths across this earth. When black people speak of the experiences they’ve had, why can’t white people just acknowledge? Why do so many feel compelled to argue and bristle and fight back?

—————

I’m not knocking police officers. I won’t go so far as to say they have a thankless job. I think most of society is thankful that there are people who sign up to keep us safe. We realize they sign on to witness society at its very worst on an almost daily basis.

I don’t think most cops are racist. Maybe that’s the optimist in me. It’s in my nature to believe the best about someone and always give the benefit of the doubt.

I truly believe that the vast majority of cops just want to do their job, do it well, and have everyone go home safe. Themselves and the public they swore to protect.

The majority.

Are there racist cops? I’m sure of it.

I’m sure of it because I’m white.

I’m white and I’ve been allowed to hear the conversations that don’t happen in public. The ones that take place in family dining rooms, during backyard barbecues, against the backdrop of kiddie parties. I’ve gone home with my skin cold and my wind swirling around the idea that people still, still, will judge a human being based solely on the pigment of his or her melanin.

The stories and the videos are disturbing.

Even allowing for the argument that the videos may not show the whole story. That the video you watch on the news may not show every single angle of a struggle. Even admitting that the videos typically don’t show the confrontation from start to finish. Even knowing that I can’t possibly understand what the police officer felt in that moment. Fear or confusion or a hot course of adrenalin pounding through his ears and heart. Probably all three and more.

The stories and videos are still disturbing. 

What disturbs me just as much are the arguments. The immediate, and swift, rallies of “All Lives Matter” and “Police Lives Matter” and the arguments on social media that police officers are being persecuted by the liberal media.

A lot of white people refuse to admit there is a problem. That some, maybe not all, but some of these incidents have happened because the police officers involved were judging (judge, jury, and executioner) the person stopped by the color of his or her skin.

White people won’t admit to what they hear and learn behind closed doors. It might mean admitting your grandmother, that sweet woman may her soul rest in peace, who taught you how to crochet and bought you a treat at the bakery every Saturday, was a raving racist who yelled at the white people on Wheel of Fortune who were stupid enough to let the n***** win. Or maybe you don’t want to confess to your father, himself in law enforcement, owning a KKK belt buckle he kept tucked away in his armoir and only brought out to show his friends when they stopped by.

I can’t be the only one.

I can’t be the only white person who’s been privy to this kind of closet, subversive racism. I know there are a lot of white people standing up and speaking out and supporting the black community in saying, “This isn’t right. There needs to be change. We still have work to do.

But not enough of them.

I’m telling you, as a member of the white community, not enough of you are speaking up. Not enough of you are being truthful about the racism you grew up with. The racism your friends spew. I hear it. I’ve been to your parties and your barbecues.

I know you hear it, too.

I won’t stand by and keep your secrets any longer.

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89 thoughts on “I Won’t Keep Your Secrets Any Longer”

    1. Jesus! I don’t know where to begin! Thank you for the truth! You have brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart for standing up and admitting to the ugly side of hate! Hate because of nothing I’ve done wrong but rather, was being born Black! Thank you for understanding that there is a difference regarding predudice and racisum! Secrets are confirmed to be exactly what I thought to be true! Treating me extra nice because you fear me and first chance you get, you’d put a bullet in me quicker than I can say ” I’m innocent”! With both of my hands up in the air! My God Why? Can anyone tell me why? I want to know why? What is it about me that infuriates you to the point that you want to mane me and watch me die a slow painful death?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate you using your platform to try and get this message across. I hope it resonates with people. Change comes from the heart, and we can all do our part to help.

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  2. I’m speechless and grateful for your voice, your words and the power they hold to begin opening communication and bringing people together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can we not redefine words with meanings that don’t belong to them? “Racism” is very well defined in many different dictionaries and it has nothing at all to do with power. It’s simply the belief that some races are superior or inferior to others. That’s it. By trying to redefine it in this way, you’re giving some races permission to be racist which is the opposite of what we’re trying to do. Please don’t enable racism in this way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It certainly was not my intention. I simply meant that whites do not suffer from the same systemic racism that has disenfranchised blacks for generations. If anyone wants to say that a black person not liking a white person due to the color of his/her skin, I will not stop you. Yes, that’s a “racist” attitude to have. I will still argue that the white person will not suffer in the ways a black person will – lessened job opportunities, ghettoization of neighborhoods, generations of reduced educational opportunities, etc.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. You are the kind of white person that never has and never will understand life! You are an embarrassment to human beings and are a product of liberal media! Your what’s wrong with the world today! You ignorant piece of garbage

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I grew up very differently from you. I was a white girl in a predominantly black area. I was ridiculed in elementary school and called “white bitch”. I was harassed and threatened. The same people who harassed and threatened me also touched me and stroked my hair. My sister was assaulted and threatened with rape because she was a “white bitch” and she “had it coming”. This was at SCHOOL. From elementary through high school. We told no one, because telling marked you as a racist. There were certain neighborhoods “white people” not welcome in, because “honkies” weren’t welcome there. My best friend was black. One of the most hurtful experiences of my childhood is that we weren’t allowed to play together after school because people in our neighborhoods might not like it. There is Hate everywhere. I don’t condone it. I have stood up to it, when I’ve heard people use the “n” word, or tell racist jokes that slurred people of color. I was determined that the treatment I received would not make me lash out at an entire race of people. Hate is everywhere, in all groups of people, BUT it can be stopped.

        Liked by 6 people

      3. White people can suffer in similar ways because of racism. My mother went to school in a predominantly African American area and had professors, at even a college level, tell her that she would not pass the class because she was white and that she should just drop the class and save them both the time. Though this doesn’t happen as often to whites as it does blacks it still happens. racism is racism no matter which way it goes.

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      4. It seems a good deal of three time, at present, when white people are empathic to the black oppression that grabs the front page news, they are told to sit down and shut up by the black activists……well, because we are not black and can NEVER understand their plight.

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    2. Arguing with the dictionary definition is simplistic.
      The dictionary is like ‘words for dummies’. This isn’t grade school. We’re not quoting the dictionary to start of our argument.
      Dig a little deeper. The most basic possible interpretation of a word or concept is *not* the trump card you seem to think it is.
      This isn’t a redefinition. It’s a more in depth look at a complex issue.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you! After I replied to that comment I was disappointed in myself. What I should have said is that I’m not “redefining” anything. The definition I used was not created by me. It’s commonly used and has been for decades. If someone else wants to use a different definition, I can’t stop them. However, I challenge any white person to talk about how black racism on whites has negatively impacted their lives.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s commonly used in social activist circles, but not by the majority of the people you are trying to communicate with and hopefully push toward acknowledging and understanding systemic racism and privilege. Systemic racism is already a well-defined term, and I don’t think conflating the two definitions is helpful- it just pushes possible allies further from understanding the differences between the one-off ‘racist’ experiences they may have had (or felt they had..) with the ubiquitous and all-encompassing nature of the systemic oppression felt by people of color. The first step to successfully communicating with the people you want help from is to let them feel heard. MANY of them feel hated or can point to some instance of something they perceive to be racist that happened to them, and taking away the only word they have to describe that experience will just shut them down… which just leads to us all only talking to people who already agree with us. On the other hand, *using* it to your advantage, acknowledging their experience, and then showing how minorities face similar or worse discrimination every single day in a system designed to do that very thing is much more effective. People only listen when they feel heard.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. I agree with Ms. Allison’s given definition, but if other “races” being able to be bigoted and prejudice is not good enough for you and you must call them racist too… I guess she should just call it White Supremacy then.

      How does that suit you Mark?

      Liked by 2 people

    4. What definition of racism? The definition in dictionaries created by the ‘dominant’ race, written in the ‘dominant’ language? Racism is very well studied and explored and expanded upon, any sociologist. It is not being redefined. The definition in this article is correct and any sociologist or anyone with an background in sociology knows this.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. If you want to be heard more clearly, don’t speak into your fedora.

      I know that’s what you’re doing as it takes a certain kind of person to go straight to sophistry and pedantry to avoid acknowledging the issue at hand.

      ‘But I’m just being *reasonable* M’LADY’

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      1. I’d love to discuss this with you if, from here on out, you not refer to me as “m’lady” or any other cutesy nicknames. I may not have your plumbing Dave, but I assure you I have a brain. Let’s start with the sophistry. Exactly what part of this do you think is made up? Please explain to me which part you think I wrote with the intention of deceiving.

        Liked by 1 person

    6. She isn’t redefining the term. Academics, the ones that name and define phenomena, have defined racism as a relationship of power. Of course, in ordinary dictionaries, you’ll find the generic description and meaning – this is the case with many complex concepts (e.g. neoplatonism). Unfortunately, that’s why there’s so much confusion and belief in reverse racism. Anybody can be prejudiced and act violently based on that prejudice, but as the author, and experts, clearly point out, not everyone can be racist. Both are extremely ugly and dangerous, but aren’t the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

    7. You have to go all the way to hell before you can effectively turn around and find a better way. The ability to change one’s mind defines life. That’s what I like about Hillary. She keeps a wet finger in the air, testing the winds of public opinion, to come down to national policy to please most of the people most of the time.
      This is what I trust about her. Her ability and willingness to analyze the problem, determine what needs to be done, and to change her mind, if and when necessary, to accomplish it.
      …in my Exxon opinion, used to be Humble.

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      1. It seems a good deal of three time, at present, when white people are empathic to the black oppression that grabs the front page news, they are told to sit down and shut up by the black activists……well, because we are not black and can NEVER understand their plight.

        Like

    1. Thank you for your openness and honesty. I’m a black woman who happens to also be a police officer, who happens to also believe in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Since my childhood years I’ve watched the world operate daily, without thought or conscience, embedded in the systemic racism that surrounds us all, pretending that we are all thriving in the words of the constitution, and ignoring that there is no justice or equality for those that look like me. Needless to say that the disparity between races angers me, and the lack of justice served is discouraging, but what disturbs me more than anything is the response to the racism and the killing of innocent black people, (and yes, some of those people were innocent) by white police. I am appalled when I read some of the comments made by white people declaring that the person should have been obedient to the police, should not have resisted arrest, should not have stolen this, or did that. My response is simple, white people are arrested everyday for the same crimes and I don’t read about, or watch a video of them being killed. I read a week ago that a white man in Tennessee was pointing a gun at motorists passing by, and when a deputy sheriff accosted him he shot at the deputy. However, the man was taken into custody without further incident and it is believed that he suffers from some type of mental disorder. I watched a video where a white man was in a restaurant and two white officers were trying to arrest him. The people visiting the restaurant and the one’s that worked there could be seen video taping the incident. The two officers tased the man twice, but he was not affected by the electric current. He fought them, throwing punches and wrestling until he was able to get to the front door where he attempted to flee, with the officers in tow. Never once were they fearful enough to even draw their weapons. If that had been a black man he would be dead! I know a lot of white people don’t care if systemic racism should ever end. As a matter of fact a lot of white people hope that it never does because that would bring an end to white privilege and God forbid should the playing field be leveled. I do know that somehow, someway, something must be done. We are far too intelligent of a people to allow this to continue. We have evolved so much more since the days of Jim Crow and we cannot afford to revisit those times, or allow modern times to mirror it. Even though there are people who might not care to change our system because of their benefits, there are those who share your desire to no longer, “Keep the secret.” We must continue to speak out about the injustices and reveal the identities of the neighborhood police officer who takes pleasure in watching a young man die because of the color of his skin. The belief that racism no longer existed was a belief in the minds of those who secretly always want it to exist because they believe that that’s the way it should be. They believe, because they were taught that the privileges that they are afforded are deserved because of their superiority. That’s “stinking thinking”, and it has to end. I look forward to a day, even if I’m not alive to see it, where the wishes of the writers of the constitution will be fulfilled, and all men are created equal. Unfortunately, until we can reach a point that all mankind is respected and treated equally we will continue in a state of civil unrest.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you for sharing this. It saddens me that our country was founded on the highest of ideals, but sinks so often to the lowest lows. We can do better. We have to do better. This isn’t the America I want my kids inheriting. If I don’t speak up, if more of us don’t speak up, and fight to enact change, then I’m no better than the people carrying around all the hate we’re seeing.

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      2. Statistics from our illustrious federal government says that 51% of the deaths by police in 2015 were white, 27% were black, 18% were Hispanic and 4% were listed as other. Not much outcry, except for blacks.

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      3. Thank you, Sarah! Was just about to point that out. Yes, the percentages alone sound as if more whites than blacks are killed by police. But the percentages when framed properly within the population numbers show that a disproportionate number of the black population is killed in police encounters compared to whites.

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      4. Sarahjaneb, it was implied by Linda that white “get away with murder”…. just pointing out that some don’t. Like a buffet, take it or leave it.

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      5. That hits the nail on the head. Black lives matter is fundamentally a movement towards the constitutional ideal of equality under the law.

        A question for you that I wonder about: are police departments using pretext stops as funding mechanisms, and if so can we change outcomes if we cut the link between department funding and traffic stops?

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  4. Thank you, this was refreshing and felt real. I will ask anyone else who wants or feel the need to share their experience to post it along with this article and hashtag it with it’s title. There is a necessity for stories similar to this. We rarely hear them. I know there’s a risk for doing so and you may get backlashed and or scrutinized for doing so; but there are individuals (like me) who appreciates them and see them as a door to healing. Be brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great article. It’s always been disturbing & somewhat surreal to me how easily people tell such stories (like the cop)… and are still absolutely insulted and have no idea what you’re talking about if you say that racism still exists, let alone that they are racist. I know people who openly talk about not shopping in stores that let in black people- and they still don’t think they’re racist or that racism exists. It’s mind-boggling.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What is most frustrating for me is that despite the eloquent points you are making, they are falling on “deaf” eyes. so to speak. While i am absolutely 101% certain you were passionately penning your thoughts to the paper, readers can only read and either appreciate or not understand based on their own passions and mindset. And so lies the whole crux of human angst and strife. As a wise human said once: “we do not see things as they are, we see them as WE are” and that is truth and will never not be true. However, as the mother of a 20 something son who is passionate about effecting change, i empathize and sympathize and try to support his efforts and concern as much as i can. He is the reason for my reading your article, he and the phenomenon of social media, that is. Keep fighting the good fight, and as i have tried to make my son understand, sometimes just giving a shit and being a good soul really need to be enough…for now….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fine piece – I would suggest a tweak on the definition of racism that you cited from Business Insider: it refers to “a racial majority” enforcing its power and privilege, but in some instances (apartheid-era South Africa, pre-Gandhian India), it has been a racial minority doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Given the number of ‘I’m no racist BUT’ people posting on this great article, I am going to take the time to inject some high level veracity into their perspectives. If you manage to read through to the end, well done. If you deepen your understanding of how the world REALLY works and begin to reflect upon many of your own perspectives then thank you, it’s been a worthwhile exercise. I’ll go into more detail than usual, just to avoid as much confusion as possible.

    OK, let’s start at the beginning. People aren’t born racist, sexist or anything else-ist. All of these negative things are learned behaviours. This should not be news to anyone.

    Thing is, even smart people don’t grasp that these things

    a) Aren’t ‘things’ unto themselves
    b) Aren’t ‘different’ things
    c) Aren’t ‘bad’ things

    These conditioned patterns are all one thing – an aspect of the human survival response.

    Everything we do is about survival. It is what life is. From the billions of chemical reactions required to keep your body functioning to your ruminations on Das Kapital or Mein Kampf, this is about survival.

    Most people understand the basics – how we are organisms that eat, poo and procreate and that chemicals and neurological processes impel us to do these things to keep going.

    But everything else – everything in your mind and body – is also part of this overall system.

    At its core is the fear/reward dichotomy. Fear is an aversive process to stop us doing things that could hinder survival. Reward compels us to do things that will aid survival.

    Problem is, we are very complicated beings – physically and now, after a few millennia, socially. This complexity overlays on and intrudes into these seemingly clear-cut processes.

    So, what the hell does this have to do with racism?

    OK. Survival is about POWER. Power being your capacity to avoid things that will harm you and achieve things that will keep you alive. It has internal aspects – your physical ability to feed yourself, stay healthy, avoid trauma etc – and external – those elements in your environment that will help or hinder you, and your capacity to control them to your best advantage.

    That’s what power is. It’s the balance sheet of factors contributing to your continuing existence or not.

    This balance sheet is comprised of both clear issues (food in front of you) and perceived/abstract issues (can you obtain food tomorrow).

    Racism as a concept comes under the ‘perceived’ category, along with all those other nasties.

    Racism is simply a mental construct where an individual PERCEIVES that their personal power is threatened by those of another race. The same way sexism is where an individual PERCEIVES that their personal power is threatened by those of another sex.

    They are ‘shortcuts’ used by an individual’s fear response to replace reasoned examination of whether a perceived threat is real or not. This is the point where many ‘liberals’ will nod sagely, smugly assured of their superiority over those brutish, reactionary conservatives.

    Well, those shortcuts are there for a reason. They prompt direct action over consideration. And sometimes, especially earlier in human history, that capacity for action was necessary for survival.

    As a very simplistic example –

    Racism (or xenophobia, depending on the subject) was a useful survival process in early human history. Your social group has access to just enough resources to survive. Along comes another group into your territory. Their drain on the resources will mean your group dies. Stop to think about it, either critical resources are consumed and you starve or they kill you so you don’t drain the resources THEY need. So, use that shortcut, act straight away, kill them ASAP to remove the threat to survival. Whoever strikes first survives.

    Smug liberals such as myself would simply be a liability in these situations 😉

    That’s where your racist KKK uncle comes from. That’s what is actually beneath all those layers of icky unpleasantness. A simple fear of survival, passed down to him one way or another from a time when it would have had considerably more relevance than it does now.

    And everyone has it. As racists enjoy pointing out, people from the races they despise are just as racist in return. Why yes, skin colour is no protection from having this particular social construct fit its way into your psychological profile. But it’s not a singular thing and it doesn’t have a special moral taint.

    Thing is, different people have incorporated different constructs into their fear response system.

    Uncle Al is a racist. Mary is afraid of climate change. Steve is a misogynist. Karen rages against the 1%.

    All these things are perceived threats in terms of your psychological profile – and depending on your environment, they can be real threats too. There ARE places and times where Al’s fear of ‘blacks’ are justified for his survival or the survival of those he deems important to him. Same with Mary, Steve and Karen’s fears.

    Thing is, these things don’t exist in a vacuum but rather an immensely complicated, huge machine with trillions of moving parts.

    Humanity is nothing but a struggle to survive, with everyone pushing and pulling themselves and their environment to achieve what they perceive to be the best range of options for themselves. All of these pushes and pulls interact, creating further ripples that engender more pushes and pulls.

    This process is power – helping some survive, hindering others. And as certain ripples gain more power, their effect is seen more strongly on greater numbers of humans.

    Now most of you with the fortitude to get this far probably grasp the reasoning, though if you have strongly embedded constructs you may resist it.

    But pretty much everyone who gets the reasoning will still apply their own sense of moral rectitude.

    ‘OK Dave, but the thing is, Uncle Al’s racism is triggered by a vague fear that as an upper middle class white man he can’t do what he wants when he wants and has to censor himself. That hardly compares to my fear of climate change, that can DESTROY THE PLANET!’

    Well Mary, I agree with you. That’s because my fear constructs align with yours, and I have sought out validating information to justify and support them.

    But of course Al, has not, he gets his validating data from chain emails with Stars and Stripes banners and big purple comic sans headlines with way too many exclamation marks.

    Does that make us better than him? Well not really, we’re actually doing the exact same thing – it’s just that our backgrounds push us in different directions. And before you say ‘he should know better’, I’d remind you that is the same argument used by racists when confronted with the assertion that the systemic prejudice applied to minorities is the cause of their disproportionate involvement in crime.

    We are all victims – and heroes – of our own circumstance. If you believe otherwise, that you have something magical and special in you that makes you BETTER than someone else in the same situation, well, I hope I don’t need to point out to you the similarity with things racist people say. Because that need to feel that you are in charge of your destiny is the same thing – it’s about perception of your power, and your fear of not having enough.

    A lot of you won’t like that and will shut down now, as it’s one of the most pervasive myths we teach ourselves. That’s fair enough.

    But it’s true.

    So what’s the point of this novel?

    First, don’t point fingers at racists. Understand they are just doing what you do, what we all do.

    Second, all of this means there is no ‘baseline’ morality to take a stance on. There’s just subjective choices and physical realities resulting from them – and in almost all of humanity the final arbiter is personal survival.

    Third, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to take a stance. Fight for it, make it a ripple that spreads and changes the world. Just don’t pretend that this makes you better or special. It just means you made a choice from within those available to you in your background. Good on you if it’s something I like, boo to you if it’s not 🙂

    Fourth, and most importantly, you can’t see all the results of all the ripples. History has a very different shape in its eventuality than what those whose actions drove it often envisioned. If you’re someone whose background impels them to seek the ‘bigger picture’ then the survival of humanity is probably as high as you will reach. That’s fine, but take on board that that may not need the precise chain of actions you feel. Sometimes a dystopia is better than a utopia just to stay alive. That’s an important lesson to be aware of but be careful how and when you employ it.

    tl;dr

    Racism is indeed about power. Along with everything else. Don’t pretend your views are better than anyone else’s, we’re all just trying to survive on this rock.

    And to those of you citing dictionary definitions of racism – these are dictionaries written by white people, as the ‘language for dummies’ (thank you) baseline guide, constructed during periods of white supremacy when white language was being imposed as a dominant means of social control over colonial subjects. I’d wait a century or so more beyond post-colonial British Empire before you start taking those definitions as being unbiased arbiters. But given that most people want their truth served in one sentence as opposed to fifty paragraphs, you shouldn’t have difficulty understanding why even then you shouldn’t trust a dictionary 😉

    You deserve some kind of a prize for reading all this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want a prize too. Your theory holds true except for one thing in my mind…. the default response to fear and the need for survival is negative… killed or be killed. But human beings are higher intellectually than animals and our basic instincts can be subdued by our thinking minds! In fact putting our fears aside and acting rationally is essential for us not to descend in chaos and anarchy. This may be why in our history instead of killing the foreign group with the different physical appearance our ancestors decided to trade and coexist in some areas. Hence, uncle racist doesn’t have to be racist inspite of his upbringing. It is a choice that he has made. At some point we are exposed to different points of views… as most times we are not in life or death survival situations our stance on these matters comes down to choice and not mere survival.

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    2. Thank you. I have saved your comment…er…essay…to go over later. You have some excellent points in there and I have already felt some brain expansion. 🙂

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      1. You think I’m pandering to them? I’d love to know how. My point is to point out to them that not all cops are racist, but enough of them are that it’s a major problem. Bias exists, and I think a large problem is that the cops who recognize that bias and racism in others are too afraid of repercussions that could endanger them to say anything.

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      2. The entire section “I’m not knocking police officers…The majority.” is pure pandering. There’s no other reason for it to be in there, and all it does is dilute your message. I’m actually curious about how you felt when you were writing that part, and what you were thinking. Why do you think it needs to be in there? Did you really not feel dirty writing it?

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      3. What I was thinking is that I don’t believe the vast majority of police officers leave for work in the morning thinking, “What black man can I maybe kill today?” I don’t think most of them even leave for work thinking, “I wonder how many black men I can harass today.” I think most leave for work thinking, “I hope I have a relatively easy day so I can get home safe.” Now having said that, I do, absolutely, believe that there are officers who express their racism and bias to other officers. Those other officers recognize that those attitudes are a problem. But they don’t say a word to the officer or to any superiors. Having said all that, I also fully recognize that my experience is that of a white, middle aged woman. I recognize that my experience is not that same as everyone else in this country. That my experience may not even be similar to what the majority of people encountering officers in the USA experience. The overall theme of this piece is about understanding that we all have different experiences and ALL need to do a better job of listening to others. I hear and see the complaints that people of color are expressing, and my answer is NOT, and never has been, “Oh, but #AllLivesMatter and #NotAllCops.” My answer is this piece I wrote. It’s written here. My response is, “I hear you. And I don’t think you’re lying because this is what I’ve seen and heard as a white woman in this country. And more people need to speak up because it can’t just be me.” I’m not pandering to the #NotAllCops movement. I never intended for it to come across that way. And I’m disheartened that THAT is the one section you focused on. That my saying not all cops are bad somehow negates my message that there are biased, racist cops out there who put their fellow officers and the people they swore to protect in serious jeopardy.

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      4. You say that you think the vast majority of cops are NOT racist, and then you also say that those non-racist cops aren’t saying or doing anything about the racist ones because they’re afraid of repercussions. Why would the vast majority fear the minority? Either the non-racist cops aren’t really the majority, or there’s something terrifyingly wrong with the whole system.

        You’re not really answering the question of why you felt that that needed to be in there. Did you think that when you pointed out that some cops were racist, your readers would automatically assume that you meant all cops? If that’s the case, then isn’t that a problem with your readers? What is it about your writing that would attract that kind of reader?

        I’m focusing on that section because I think it’s extremely problematic. I didn’t say it negates your message; I said it dilutes it. Words, they mean things.

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      5. I wrote it because it’s what I felt. That’s the answer to your question. Never did I think anyone beyond me would even read this. Check out the number of followers I have. And more than half, I think, followed after reading this piece. So I didn’t write it thinking, “Let me add this section for [insert specific reason here].” I do think there’s something terrifyingly wrong with the system. Have you ever read of how hated Internal Affairs officers are? Cops do not tell on cops. Cops, even a lot of the good ones in my opinion, consider themselves above the law. If you’re a cop, you don’t ticket another cop. You don’t report another cop. You certainly don’t arrest another cop. Ever hear of PBA cards? They’re like “Get out of jail free” cards given to family members and close friends of officers so that they can flash them if they’re ever stopped by a police officer. It can certainly be argued, and would be argued by officers who enjoy them, that all of these are just perks of the job. You put your life on the line as an officer and in exchange your wife gets out of a speeding ticket. But I believe it fosters an environment where even the most well-intentioned officers turn a blind eye to what they see on the job from other officers. I think also that there have to be officers who get worn down by the job. Statistics show that more officers die by suicide each year than on the job. Yet a lot of officers will tell you they don’t seek counseling because doing so stigmatizes them and they risk being demoted. No, from my perspective (from MY perspective), I don’t think most cops are evil. I do think there is something very wrong with the system. I do think that there are other, just as valid, perspectives different from my own. And I don’t think expressing my perspective dilutes my overall message.

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      6. “Cops, even a lot of the good ones in my opinion, consider themselves above the law… I believe it fosters an environment where even the most well-intentioned officers turn a blind eye to what they see on the job from other officers.” Yes. And these are your “good cops.” The slightly less rotten apples in a barrel full of moldy worm-infested mush.

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  9. Thank you to everyone for speaking your truths….we each have our own truths based on many factors as has been pointed out. So where do we go from here….acknowledging not justifying what our experience has been. It’s never one thing or one view. Pointing out the obvious has proven to only provoke others from where they “are”. This is our world as it is today…..I don’t like the atrocities that occur….fairly certain we can all agree on that. A part of me wants to share the details of my experience to frame my comments. I am a human being. We all love and are capable of more of that….send all people more love…I know it’s simplistic but it’s our truth…it’s the one thing we all have the power to do. I am sorry that our world is in the state it is and for any part I have had in contributing to it. Love to all beings

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  10. Thank you for your beautifully powerful, moving words. They have so eloquently summed up most of what I have been trying to convey to my family over the last few weeks.

    Also, I just want to reassure you that your definition of “racism” is actually pretty spot on. In the first year anthropology course that I teach, we differentiate racism and racialism for the students by telling them that racism comes alongside structures of power which legitimise and support the prejudice of one ethnic group towards another. Racialism on the other hand, has no real power within society and so its effects are quite limited in comparison.

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  11. Thanks for being courageous enough to share. This is a very powerful piece. I hope you continue to think about, read about, and write about these kinds of injustices. There is so much research done on this stuff and so many good books. It’s hard to have this conversation when we’re not all coming to the table with the same background knowledge. Thanks for sharing such a powerful story about your experiences.

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  12. Acknowledging that the issue is complex isn’t pandering. If all cops were just evil racist, that makes the story easier, but not reality.
    Black people don’t need articles like this, they live the reality everyday. It’s white people that need their minds and hearts to open a little wider, to the point that it might get uncomfortable.
    The really racist ones, you’re never going reach, we just have to wait until they die. And the super-liberals are trying to be good allies already, to varying degrees of success. It’s the white people in the middle that are seeing these videos come out now and saying, “wow, this is horrible, I had no idea. It makes me think how many times this happened and no one filmed it”.
    Now to that you could say, “what you think Black people were just making this up for years?” But does that really help moving forward?
    People find it very difficult already to question their own privilege and how they might be part of the problem, but these are the people that need to make the change. Divisive language can often make people defensive and close off to letting in new ideas.
    Painting with broad strokes, doesn’t help the complex issues. Do we think the cops that gave their lives protecting the BLM protesters in Dallas were racists? Possible, but not probable.
    I think there is alot of value in recognizing the complexity that the system can be broken without all, or even most, of the people in it being bad people.

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  13. My husband and I have been excluded from foster and adopting in some counties because we are white and thus cannot properly raise a child of color. Don’t tell me we treat each other equally and it’s all one sided. Don’t tell me it is better for those kids to have no family than have a loving “mixed” family…

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  14. Excellent piece, Allison! Thank you!

    I’m another white girl who grew up in an all black neighborhood (South Dallas, 80s and 90s). Sure, there were times when I and my siblings were taunted and treated meanly. I’m not so arrogant or stupid as to assume that erases my white privilege just because the kids in our neighborhood yelled “cracker” and threw rocks at us that one year when racial tensions in Dallas were super high – it’s an isolated anecdote. Duh.

    I’m a woman. I’m LGBT. I’m disabled. I’m poor. I get plenty of the short end of the stick by way of misogyny and homophobia. I don’t for a minute think I get discriminated against because I’m WHITE.

    And “Knd” – in many countries there is extant racism against whites, yes (certain Asian countries come to mind), but we are talking about living black in the US, not trying to adopt a child in another country while white. And honestly? I wouldn’t necessarily want to send a “child of color” from another country to the US to live. I mean – do you not read the news? Our country is currently under a warning for travel in regard to people of color!

    I expatriated from the US almost exactly one year ago. I was afraid to live there any more – especially in the Bible Belt. Here I don’t have to worry about my autistic child being killed by bullies or by police. I don’t have to worry if my children date, love, marry, and procreate outside our melanin deficient white American Irish clique (a huge possibility, their crushes as they hit their teen years splashed across the skin color spectrum, more concerned with the person than their appearance). I don’t have to worry about my teen daughter taking her dog for a walk, or myself and my partner wandering the streets hand in hand at 2 am coming back from dinner (Uruguayans don’t eat dinner until between 10 PM and midnight), or kissing in public.

    Racism is minuscule here, gun culture and rape culture are near non-existent. Separation of church and state is real, not lip service. Education and health care are a given. Moving here… It’s the best thing we ever did. The BEST.

    I’m lucky, and privileged to have been able to walk away. I recognize that. if I had been raised black and poor instead of white and poor, I might never have managed to pull myself up far enough to be able to pack up and fly away from the horrible things I had to deal with… which still don’t compare to what people of color have to live with; I don’t have to tell all 3 of my kids how to not get killed by police, just the one.

    I’ve had my share of problems but I hope I’m never so presumptuous as to pretend they match up against the exact same life lived in a black body.

    Thanks again, Allison, and I’m sharing this to all my friends!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I work in law enforcement and it sickens when others including the media are quick to judge the police when a use of force occurs. videos can be disturbing but they in fact don’t tell the whole story. The events leading up to a use of force are never caught, the dialogue, so on and so forth. I myself, have been questioned on use of force incidents (fortunately no shootings and none that resulted in death) by administrators because of the video. The media, as well as the public, believe that they are all experts on the use of force continuum following a recorded incident caught by a by stander when an officer attends an academy for 4-6 months and under goes a field training program for 2-4 months just to have a base of knowledge to begin to work the streets alone. That being said, that officer that told that story shouldn’t have a badge, as well as others who are racist or who do have feelings of bigotry toward any race. I’m not naive, and know that cops aren’t perfect (because they’re people too). Most law enforcement people I know are great people, and your article forgot some important real facts. 1). More whites are killed by police every year. In fact, following the incident in Dallas, an unarmed white male was shoot and killed by police. There was no rioting or neighbors erupting in damaging their own neighborhoods over that individual. 2). You forgot demographics. Neighborhoods that are predominantly black will have the majority of crime committed by black individuals. The same would be for white neighborhoods, and Asian or Hispanic neighborhoods. If the majority of a specific group lives in an area, the majority of the crime that happens in that area will be committed by that group. It’s hardly a racial thing at all. As for those cops who told you where to go to get the drugs, shouldn’t have a badge and if you and your friends weren’t thrown to the ground, arrested, etc, it’s mire than likely that you and your friends were compliant, respectful, and followed those officers directives. As you stated, one of your friends who admitted to possession, was arrested and booked, so they did their jobs. I found your article very anti police, you need to discern from the majority of professionals and one scum bag who was telling an I inhumane story.

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    1. I never mentioned specific incidents in the media. I never said I thought one cop or another was wrong based on videos. I think I was specific in my writing in regards to speaking about the very cops you mention in your comment. The ones who, as you mentioned, “are racist and who do have feelings of bigotry toward any race.”

      I never said a bad word about the cops who pulled us over or the ones we met after. You came to your own conclusions.

      If this article is “anti-cop,” then how will we ever have an honest, constructive conversation about race, police, and how to tackle the issue of bad cops?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dustin, you reply missed many important facts.

        “More whites are killed by police every year” – well duh. But blacks make up only 13% of the population, yet blacks make up at least 26% of the number of people killed by cops. (I know, math is hard.)

        “Demographics”, sure. People tend to kill the people they are closest to; family, neighbors, co-workers. But we are talking about blacks being killed by police at a ratio of at least 2:1 compared to whites (Again, hard math, I’m so sorry!)

        Finally, you can shove your “compliant and respectful” drivel where the sun doesn’t shine. Black people are killed by cops who use excessive force towards blacks and view blacks as inherently more dangerous, in situations where the black person has done NOTHING wrong, is unarmed, and is not a threat at all – while white people can point weapons at and even fire on police and be taken into custody without being harmed and even driven to get some fast food before booking.

        You are the worst kind of apologist. The “blue line” is well toed by you, sir.

        Allison, you are to be commended by keeping your cool when faced with this kind of crapola. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There was no need for being disrespectful or insulting my intelligence grace. I was not disrespectful to Allison. Even Allison would be the first to mention that this is a forum to discuss and share different view points. You don’t have to agree with me, I surely don’t agree with you. It’s clear you have a problem with authority. Cops are getting gunned down left and right and they, and their families don’t deserve it. 5 Dallas officers died protecting protesters who were protested them. 3 more were gunned down yesterday leaving 3 injured. Senseless killing of any human being is wrong, especially my brothers who signed up for this jo. To take care of their families at home. Now they, and myself, are targets more now than ever. I personally would never give anyone anything they didn’t deserve, but respect is a two way street. You mentioned white criminals who aim and shoot at officers don’t get fired upon, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Myself, and brothers and sisters in blue have families we want to come home to at the end of the day. I know how to do math but you certainly don’t have the qualifications to make it as a peace officer.

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      3. Dustin, I value your opinion and very much respect you for reading what I wrote and weighing in. I agree that the senselss killing of any human being is tragic. I only hope that here, where I share my thoughts and experiences, I can maybe encourage others to think outside of their own experiences. I am not a black civilian. I am not a law enforcement officer. I’m just an observer who feels very deeply that we, as a society, can do better. We HAVE to do better. Both for people who don’t fit into the white middle-class and up, heterosexual cookie cutter mold and for those officers who are doing their damndest to protect all people in as non-biased a way as possible.

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      4. “Cops are getting gunned down left and right and they, and their families don’t deserve it.”

        I would certainly agree that their families don’t deserve it. They’re not the ones to join up with these fascists thugs.

        Fact of the matter is, no one has the right to rule over others. Period. To add to these rampant crimes, how about this: since September 11, 2001 until present day, there have been more people killed in this country, “land of the free and home of the brave,” than during this very same time frame in Iraq.

        Any cops being killed have only themselves to blame. They function under the delusion that they have the right to rule others. They don’t. Additionally, they enforce billions of laws that have nothing to do with violations of others rights. If no one’s rights are being violated, or have been violated, then there are no victims. If there are no victims, there is no crime. To enforce such victim-less crimes is, in and of itself, a crime. Those that enforce these “laws” are in fact criminals and should be dealt with as such.

        This kind of behavior and their ensuing problems demonstrate the logical and moral validity of the axiom, there can be no freedom where there is the existence of government. Government and freedom are antagonistic one to the other. These “comments” clearly demonstrate this principle.

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  16. Thank you Allison and all who are making thoughtful and honest comments. I hope that this kind of a discussion can be an opening to broadening our understanding. I am a white woman living in a mostly white affluent neighborhood. I just put a Black Lives Matter sign in my yard. I am a little nervous — my congregation put up a large Black Lives Matter sign up and it was vandalized three times before it managed to stay up. But it is only minutely brave compared to how others are standing up to call for criminal justice reforms. I encourage reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander — depressing but essential for understand our current situation.

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    1. The officer was talking about the city of Wyandanch, NY, which is where he says that incident happened and where he was stationed as a police officcer. The city in which I was pulled over was Jamaica, which is in Queens NY. The officers told us we should have gone instead to a town on Long Island called Brentwood.

      Does it matter though?

      I don’t disagree with you or why you thought that. But I don’t think where it happened matters because I don’t think incidents like these are singular to just that area. I fully believe shit like this goes on across our country and white people stay silent. I was silent when it happened. I was young and naive about the implications of what it meant, especially having grown up without seeing black people struggling.

      More importantly, I was afraid. I was afraid what would happen if I spoke up. With age, and with being exposed more to what people of color are claiming as their experience, I know now that if I was/am afraid to speak out, as a white woman, then I cannot fathom the fear they must feel. So I’m trying to be braver. And louder. Writing this was a first step.

      Thanks for reading and calling me out. That’s brave as well. 🙂

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  17. I don’t know exactly when this whole “redefining what racist and racism means” thing began but is it monumentally misguided. The definition of a racist and racism is simply someone judging a person or being prejudiced against a person based solely upon their race or the color of their skin. Period. So, yes, racism is simply the definition of a specific type of prejudice, specifically, racial prejudice. The problem is, many people, such as yourself, are now trying to define racism as being the sole purview of those who have “power”, which is a misguided and dangerous trend. The reason I find it dangerous is that, if you make the claim only those in power can be racist, then you are not actually addressing the core issue of racism at all, what you are then actually addressing is the issue of “power”.

    There are many abuses of power out there, including economic, political, and yes, racist, but one does not have to be “in power” to be a racist and practice racism. When you dismiss the racism of those who “aren’t it power” as being nothing more than simple “prejudice” you are basically saying “It’s okay to be racist if you are in the minority” or “If you aren’t in a position to do much about it, then racism is just fine”, which totally undermines your position and goes against your apparent goals. If we really wish to get a grip on this age-old problem and try to come up with some real, workable solutions, we must address the core issue and conflating racism with a totally separate issue of “power” “majority vs. minority” will only muddy the waters. Unless, of course, the real issue goes beyond simple racism and involves many more, complex and intertwined issues, of which racism is just one aspect, which I believe to be so.

    In any case, your definition of racism approaches the nonsensical. Yes, if a white man says something like “All black people are…” he is expressing a racist opinion, and if a black man says “All white people are…” he too is expressing a racist opinion. They are both being prejudiced and their opinions are specifically racially-based, and “racially based prejudice” is, in fact, the very definition of racism. To forgive someone’s sins just because they have been sinned against seems to be a very foolish stance to take and redefining their sin as something “less than a sin”, only serves to make it more difficult for us to grapple the issue to the ground, because understanding starts with understanding ourselves and our own motives and finding within ourselves that which makes us commit the transgression. Racism is racism, no matter the color of the person’s skin or if they are in the majority or minority. Period. When you talk about systemic or institutionalized racism, then you are talking about the system or the institution, and that system or institution is made up of individuals. It starts with prejudice in the individual and until we recognize and deal with what causes racism in ALL individuals, we will never solve the issue of racism in systems & institutions. The true problem isn’t “these specific people are prejudiced towards these other specific people” the true problem is “people are racist”.

    I am in no way trying to deny that there is such a thing as systemic or institutional racial prejudice, I know for a fact that it exists. I grew up in the South, in a city that had an active chapter of the KKK, and it was common knowledge that when they took off their sheets, many of them put on a uniform and a badge or a three-piece suit and sat down at the mayor’s desk or a chair on the city council. I know what it’s like to be ostracized and called a n*****-lover and having your safety threatened because of your views don’t align with those of the majority of your community. See, just like I didn’t stand by quietly then, when the KKK were parading down a main thoroughfare of my city, I don’t sit at the parties and get-togethers and just listen to the stories and jokes and snickering comments, I actually express my own opinion and question them on their attitudes and freely express my own. The infiltration of our law enforcement institutions by white supremacists is one of the biggest issues we have right now, it was reported on by the FBI over 10 years ago and nothing serious or meaningful has been done to remedy the situation, and there is no doubt that it’s directly responsible for the atrocitites we are witnessing on almost a daily basis. That said, I also do not believe that redefining what racism means, as you have done, will help the situation, and just the opposite, it only serves to distract us from dealing with the real problem. As I said before, it’s an age-old problem that’s been around for a looooong time and is not in need of a “new definition”, we know what racism is, because there’s at least a little bit of it in every one of us.

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    1. “you are basically saying “It’s okay to be racist if you are in the minority” or “If you aren’t in a position to do much about it, then racism is just fine””

      Can you point to where anyone actually said that?

      “it only serves to distract us from dealing with the real problem”

      No, *you* are derailing and distracting from the real problem. You just wrote a three paragraph comment complaining about things that nobody said and explaining why they were wrong. That’s on *you*.

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      1. Well, it was four paragraphs, but who’s counting? Oh, I guess that would be you, wouldn’t it? Out of all of my words contained in those four paragraphs, this is what you found worthy of emphasizing? When I say “you are basically saying”, the “basically” part means “in essence”. I other words, there is a basic implication and intent in those words outside of there initial meaning. Logical thought involves extrapolating further meaning from a statement. So, no, the author didn’t literally write those words, but it is entirely within reason to interpret the natural implications of her statement.

        Speaking of her statement, here is the exact passage: “Are there black people who hate white people just because they are white? Sure. But that’s not racism. It’s prejudice. But it’s not racism.”

        As I said in my original comment, this statement is nonsensical. Being prejudiced against someone based solely upon their race or skin color is the very definition of being racist. It doesn’t matter if it’s a black many being prejudiced against a white man or a white man towards a black man, racial prejudice is racism. Period. The author is not only trying to redefine what racism means, she is trying to define who is even capable of being a racist and that is a big deal. She isn’t saying “Sure, black people can be racists too, but they aren’t in the same position of power as white people so it doesn’t matter” she is saying that black people aren’t racists at all, they’re just “prejudiced”. She is mimicking the same tactics that racists use when they “other” people by attributing an undesireable characteristic or behavior upon the “unfavored” group of people and absolve the “favored” group of possessing any such characteristic or behavior. This is called distortion and it is counterproductive to having a meaningful discussion about the topic and will not aid in finding solutions to the problem.

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      2. Those are not the natural implications of the statement. Those are your interpretations based on your biases. And no, it’s not nonsensical and it’s not a new definition that she made up; it’s a definition that’s been in use for over 40 years. Look it up. You are ignorant and irrational but you think you’re logical and well-informed. Educate yourself. You’re not worth any more of my time.

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      3. Ah…I think the new, hip word they’ve come up with for what you’re doing to me right now is “gaslighting”. I’m “biased”, “ignorant”, “irrational”, and “uneducated”? Yes, it’s easy to dismiss someone when you’ve proclaimed from on high that they’re not “worthy of your time” isn’t it? I mean, you could actually engage in a discussion where you reasonably counter my opinion with your own if it weren’t for the fact that I’m so damned “CRAZY”, right? Of course, you have absolutely no bias at all, do you? Are you supposing your own reaction to my comments display rationality and demonstrate your own extensive education? I’ve actually said something about the subject matter, while you have done little more than call me names. Good day to you, and safe travels down the road.

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      4. You’ve been dismissed because, among other things, you’re blasting a 40+ year old definition as brand new and nonsensical, pretending your biased interpretation is the only logical one, and arguing semantics whilst simultaneously not wanting to argue semantics. Have a great day, Chad.

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      5. Chad? Wow. Careful, your bias & prejudices are showing. 40 year old definition? What? The word has been around a LOT longer than forty years, so how exactly can the definition be only 40 years old? Oh, maybe you mean that someone came along 40 years ago with a new definition of “racism” that molded better to their personal agenda? It’s not all that complicated a concept. Holding personal prejudices and preconceived ideas as to how someone is supposed to “be” based solely upon their “race” or skin color is racism. In the author’s example, the black man hates white people solely because they are white, therefore he is demonstrating racism. Yes, he is being prejudiced and that prejudice is based upon the person’s race, therefore he is demonstrating a racist attitude. He’s isn’t simply being “prejudiced”, he is being racially prejudiced. This isn’t mere semantics, it’s crucial to the discussion, because if you say that one group of people are “angels” and the other group are “demons”, you have removed the ability to meet in the middle. The truth is, we are all human beings and we all have the same strengths and foibles and the way we overcome stupid things like racism is we recognize that those impulses and attitudes are inside all of us, but we need to use our big brains to overcome the animal instincts of “us vs. them” if we wish to stop the stupidity. The problem isn’t that white people are racists and black people aren’t, the problem is that all humans are capable of racism, and in our own personal situation, it just so happens to be the white people that are the majority and hold more power, so they are in a position to do more damage with their racism. If the situation were reversed, the black people would do the same, because they have the same base human instincts that revolve around self-interest and self-protection and preservation of the “tribe” that result in the “us vs. them” mindset. Empathy leads to understanding, and understanding, with reasoned thought applied, leads to solutions and there is no empathy if you can’t find yourself within others and won’t even admit that you possess some of the same bad that is contained within those at which you are pointing your finger. From my own experience, what it takes is redefining in your mind what is your “tribe”. What race am I? I am of the human race, nothing more, nothing less.

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      6. It’s super nice of you to show me very early in your long comment that your drivel still isn’t worth reading. Words can have multiple definitions, and they can change over time. Bye!

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      7. It was mega peachy keen of you to come back and demonstrate, once again, that you have nothing to add to the conversation except dismissive putdowns. Especially, since it was three comments back that you proclaimed me to be unworthy of your invaluable time. You can imagine how honored I consider myself at this moment. I can understand your haste in leaving, I’m sure there are many more urgent pronouncements for you to make from on high elsewhere. Bon voyage, Your Highness.

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