We think of racism as one dimensional and we’re wrong.
As a sociology student one of the first things I got under my belt was the Standard Definition of Racism (SDR)TM
Essentially racism is a vanishing act. It’s got invisible powers. It sneaks and gets quiet when someone bold enters the room looking for it.
Racism “Is when social policies, procedures, decisions, habits and acts do in fact subjugate a race of people and permit another race to maintain control over them . . Racism involves having the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices through the major institutions of our society Any attitude, action or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of their color . . . Racism is not just a matter of attitudes; actions and institutional structures can also be a form of racism.”(source)
But the more I studied the more I was convinced that my professors had were just slightly off on the topic. Something about that definition above just doesn’t capture the pure evil inherent in racism as a social reality.
It’s not just the vindictive racists that make racism, it’s the quiet civil servant who pushes the law. It’s the many ways we are guilty and not guilty of paying attention.
If racism were built, literally like an institution it would be pretty simple to either blow it up, like a building, or destroy it in one fell swoop. If it were just prejudice and individual preference, education alone could theoretically take care of the issue.
(This is all assuming that we as a society want racism to actually end and are taking steps towards that reality.)
But since neither of those have happened , then racism must be something else entirely. The beast must be an actual breathing, beast. Something that requires cunning, guile and specific anti-racism tactics in order to destroy.
Racism is the most evil thing on this planet.
It has no other goal but to destroy humanity, and destroy it from within. It is even capable of change and deception to this end. So it occurred to me, racism must be a sentient being.
That’s right. I think racism is conscious.
Our definitions of racism place it in the limiting context of language. But racism is clearly something more forceful than it’s definition implies. Racism isn’t well-articulated because it’s single goal is to cause chaos and disruption in this human family.
It’s the foundation that our society is built upon, it’s the stalk that grows our economy, feeds our families and shapes our government. That racism is also the root of terror in our society is no coincidence.
But the thing that makes racism a living, maybe even breathing thing is that it has a purpose. Racism was created, discovered, implemented and institutionalized with a goal in mind. It was programmed.
And then it learned. And then we lost control of it.