White Fear

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White fear is another consequence of racism and is related to White guilt. This is a post of my unpacking my past and my privilege, so hold on tight it might get a little bumpy.

They are claiming that we live in a post-race society, and racism doesn’t exist anymore, so therefore we do not need the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They have already struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, so now the nine most racist states can effectively make changes to their voting laws without permission, and you can read an article about it here.

We have a Black president, and he was elected twice, so we can’t possibly be racist still,  right? The ignorance of this statement is mind blowing, and I have heard it too many times. If racism did’t exist then we wouldn’t have had chairs lynched from trees through out the entire election process. Also they wouldn’t have made Obama show proof of his birth certificate. I feel that many hidden aspects of racism were exposed, because of the election of Obama and yet people are exhaling and cheering yay! We aren’t racist anymore! Hurrah!

What I want to know is how can White America be so blind? I understand that some of it has to due with the fact that if you are raised a certain way and these ways are passed down generation after generation then you just believe by default. This is how White America can move through life blind to the fact that other races are invisible in their day to day lives. We aren’t affected by it, so we don’t see it, we don’t feel it, and we don’t feel out of place or neglected in the media or in our work or school systems. We aren’t held back through the education system, or in the work place, and unless you are a woman, we aren’t paid less money for the same job. We know our history, because it is taught to us in schools, and some of us have very *long documented family trees.

(*Side note: Although I have recently found that I only have my lineage documented on my paternal grandmother’s side to go back seven to eight generations, the other three grandparents are only documented for four to five generations. Which might have something to do with my DNA results that just came in this week. I should have this update in my White Guilt post, but I am updating it here instead. My results say that I am Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Polish…all of which I knew about, but the new information is that I am also Mediterranean of unknown country, Lebanese, North African, and Sub-Saharan African. This is probably why we thought we had Native American ancestry).

Is it White blindness, White guilt, or White fear that makes American’s feel or believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore? We know racism is wrong, so we do everything in our control to be “colorblind,” and we pretend that there is no racism, we don’t talk about it, and we hush our children when ever they notice it, so if we just pretend long enough that it doesn’t exist, and believe it will just disappear or that it will eventually become reality. I believe that this is just more lies that we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better. I believe that keeping quiet is part of the problem. People of color talk about race and racism inside their homes, but White people do not, as they believe if we don’t talk about it, it will just go away. Not talking about it is creating mystery or prolonging the lies, so not talking about it is creating racism. I believe the best way to raise a racist child is to not talk about race or racism inside your homes.

If you are White you aren’t racially profiled, and you aren’t randomly stopped and frisked by the police. You are free to wander around retail stores without being followed by security. If you are a White man women don’t grab their purses close to their body when you walk by.  These are common occurrences for my African-American boyfriend, and many other people of color. One day I was in a public bathroom in a downtown establishment while on a date with him, and a very young White girl walked in while I was washing my hands. She asked an Older White woman who walked in ahead of her if she could wait for her, and walk out with her, then she said that there was a gentleman waiting outside the bathroom and she didn’t feel safe. The older woman said yes of course. I finished drying my hands, and as I was exiting the bathroom it finally dawned on me that she could be referring to my boyfriend. Fear washed over me as I walked down the long corridor to the benches outside the restrooms. When I reached the end of the hall my boyfriend was the only one there, and pain then washed over me and I actually started shaking. He then noticed that something was wrong, so I told him what just occurred. By the time I reached my senses I went back to confront this child, but she was already gone.

If you are White **Cops don’t pull you over while driving, and they don’t drive through your neighborhoods looking to fill their quotas. **This link is an informative post by a fellow blogger, and her experiences with the police, and it is a must read.

One of the legacies of racism and a story of my past: I remember driving with my parents as a child, we traveled a lot, and if we happened to get lost and drive through a Black neighborhood my mother would automatically lock the doors. This is so incredibly damaging to all involved. One, that the African American men standing on the street could hear the doors locking, and I can’t imagine what this pain feels like. Two, that as a young child it was ingrained in me that African American men were dangerous. I have struggled with this fear all of my life. I knew it was wrong from a very young age, but every time I am confronted with it it rears it’s ugly head. I have to consciously remind myself that these fears are irrational. I basically just hand my purse over now every time I cross the path of a Black man. Not literally of course, but it’s sort of a knee jerk reaction that I loosen up and sort of hold out my arm towards them. Is this over compensating? Yes probably, but my brain has to start somewhere. This is the result of the racism I grew up with, but am I racist? No, I am not, because I am aware of the discrimination and the racism in my family, and I am actively educating myself, and reprogramming my brain to believe the truth, and not the lies that I grew up with and the lies that our society pushes on us on a daily basis through the media and our education system.

We are all affected by racism, and no one is excluded from the damage that racism causes.

Racism still exists, and we need the Voting Rights act of 1965 just as much now as we did in 1965. Racism hasn’t diminished; it just has a different face than it did 50 years ago or even 150 years ago.

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Q.u.e.e.n

I needed to have a little Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu this morning! It’s funny I saw someone else post this song this morning also, so I contemplated not posting it, but it was in my drafts, so I decided to post it anyways. 🙂

I love this song and the video, because it’s sexy, artistic, and smart. I love Erykah Badu, and because of this song I have officially been introduced to Janelle Monae’s music, and I think I really like some of it.  Q.u.e.e.n. is fun to dance to and it has a powerful message, so you can’t get much better than this. This song was actually a private conversation between Janelle and Erykah, so I am happy they decided to share it with us. I also needed to break up the energy of my posts, because the next post that comes out will be similar to the last one. I am going on vacation to take the boy’s to Grandma’s house, Yay!, so it might be little while before i can post it, but it is in the think tank. Fingers crossed.

The end of this song is so powerful, and it poetically describes some of the struggles of African American’s, and other people of color. The truth is there are more White people selling dope, the drugs and the lies.The message is clear, and the booty don’t lie.

“I asked a question like this

“Are we a lost generation of our people?
Add us to equations but they’ll never make us equal.
She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel.
So why ain’t the stealing of my rights made illegal?
They keep us underground working hard for the greedy,
But when it’s time pay they turn around and call us needy.
My crown too heavy like the Queen Nefertiti
Gimme back my pyramid, I’m trying to free Kansas City.
Mixing masterminds like your name Bernie Grundman.
Well I’m gonna keep leading like a young Harriet Tubman
You can take my wings but I’m still goin’ fly
And even when you edit me the booty don’t lie
Yeah, keep singing and I’mma keep writing songs
I’m tired of Marvin asking me, “What’s Going On?
March to the streets ‘cuz I’m willing and I’m able
Categorize me, I defy every label
And while you’re selling dope, we’re gonna keep selling hope
We rising up now, you gotta deal you gotta cope
Will you be electric sheep?
Electric ladies, will you sleep?
Or will you preach?”” ~ Queen Lyrics

White Guilt?

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This picture can be enlarged if you can’t see it, so just click on it. If you are unsure of what to say visit the Unfair Campaign.

*Warning, this is an emotional post please read at your own risk.

What is White guilt?

I don’t know what White guilt is, but I do know that it is a different experience for different people. I don’t feel that I carry White guilt anymore, but yes I did at one time, and more on that later. I am proud of my Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Polish, and 22-25% of *inconclusive heritage. Unfortunately I was raised in a household without too many customs relating back to any one culture. I feel a deep loss because of this, but its probably because we are so muddled with different European bloodlines that there is not really one culture that could dominate in my family. Some people think I look Native American, but I was raised in a European-American household, and when I was born my mother swore I wasn’t hers because she thought that I belonged to the Native American woman who was sharing a hospital room with my mother. My mother looks Native American too. My father had to swear up and down that I was indeed my mother’s baby.

*My sister took a DNA test and it came back with strange results, so I went to a better company, and I am waiting impatiently for my DNA testing to return to me to find out what the missing link is… maybe it’s Russian or maybe it’s not?

White guilt, the feeling that you don’t like the fact that you are of European American decent, because of all of the capitalistic exploitation and colonization that Europe has done throughout the 1800’s and throughout the ages. The destruction and underdevelopment of Africa, Asia, and Latin America then and still today.

Enter the United States, and you find death and hate here too with the destruction of Native Americans, the theft of their lands and then forcing them onto reservations. The toxic diseased filled blankets given on purpose as gifts to the indigenous peoples of America. The “Indian” Schools to beat the savage out of them so they become civilized, and the displacement and feeling a sense of not belonging anywhere as a result of these schools. The gifts of alcohol that the effects still ravage many tribes, and the trail of tears, etc.

Slavery brings it’s own horrors and degradation of the African diaspora. The theft of Africans from their motherland from the 1500’s to 1865, and the toxic and tortuous middle passage from Africa to the States that many did not survive. The breeding factories in Virginia and elsewhere to make more slaves to sell. The theft of identity, of family, and of culture. The torture and rape that all slaves had to endure to scare them into staying on the plantations. The selling of wives, husbands, and of children right in front of you, and there was nothing that you could do to stop it.  

Reconstruction and the lies that were being spread about African Americans, lies of raping White women and then the subsequent lynchings. The lies that African American men were criminals and devils. The debt peonage, the convict leasing system, and share cropping that kept African Americans in slavery until the 1940’s. The Black codes or Jim Crow Laws that led to segregation, voting restrictions, and not being able to serve on a jury. The creation of the KKK, and the horrors of burning, bombings, hangings, etc

The refusal to give home loans and the creation of ghettos. The mass incarceration of African American men, and the destruction of many families as a result. School policies that push children into dropping out of school or being expelled for minor infractions, and the subsequent school to prison pipeline. The state of health care, and the state of health of people of color due to high stress racism. The fact that many people of color today are invisible, and the only time you see them in the media is just reinforcing racist stereotypical lies that have been spread for generations. Racial profiling, racial fear, and the damage to people of color because if it.

I could make a post of each one of these topics, because those are not exhaustive lists, but I don’t think I could stomach or relive the details of these horrible events as I typed it out. Yes, one has a *right to feel White guilt, and as a young child I had a bad case of it. It became worse when I turned nineteen and dated a militant Black male whom I think was really out to destroy me to express the hate that he felt inside. He had me reading all kinds of literature at the time that made me hate white people, or actually just hate myself. I endured all sorts of emotional abuse from this man which lasted about six months, and thankfully I had the strength to get out and run far away from him. It took many years to regain my sense of self and reclaim my European heritage of which I am now proud of, because what else can I do I can’t change my skin color.

**Update *While it is true we may have the right to feel guilt, because it is our right to live our lives anyway we feel we need too. I strongly feel that this guilt is negative energy, and we would be better off finding a way to educate ourselves about race and racism, and claiming our own ethnic identities instead of feeling guilty about what our ancestors did.  If you aren’t part of the solution; then you are part of the problem. We can’t just say that racism is wrong, and that we aren’t racist, and then turn around and sit idly by hoping someone else will clean up the problem. I believe that if you see racism and don’t say anything, then you are just as guilty as the active racist. For example, if you know a person of color or a person of a different sex at your employment who works hard, but is getting paid less than you, then it is your responsibility to demand that you get paid equally. Whether she/he gets a raise, or you take a pay cut. Its called equality, and fighting for the rights of all man or women kind.

Last year I read the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Tatum. This book has enlighten me on so many different levels about race relations and racism. She has taught me that I as a European American woman that I need to claim my ethnic heritage, and be proud of who I am, because until I can do that I cannot learn and understand the plight of so many people of color in our world. That I won’t see the truth, and I cannot interrupt the racism inside my own family until I claim my ethnicity and understand who I am.

I don’t hate White people, and I don’t think that they are bad people or stupid people, but I do feel that many of them are lost. I can’t save them, but I can save myself. I am educating myself, learning, listening, and I am talking to anyone who will listen.

Communication and talking about the real subjects on race, race relations, and the state of racism today is only one step into interrupting racism, but it is one BIG step forward. The hidden subtle forms of racism today that completely hide themselves from most White people. The Unfair Campaign claims that it is hard for a white person to see racism. I agree with this statement, but unfortunately when I stated it out loud to a young White male at my University he immediately went into defense mode and claimed that the statement was unfair and it claims that White people aren’t capable of understanding or seeing racism. I wanted to say, but many White people don’t or can’t, but I couldn’t say this, because there are only so many conversations you can have with someone who isn’t willing to really listen.

I know who I am, I am working hard to see the truth, and I won’t stop till I reach my goals.

Racist Memorabilia

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I was in an antique store yesterday looking for something that I can put a TV on, Marley my boyfriend says I need to upgrade my broken tube TV and step into the future. As I was wandering around the store I saw three booths that contained multiple handmade Mammy dolls, and immediately I felt dirty. I wondered who owned these dolls before they sat here, and why would they own these dolls in the first place? Did they belong to little girls in need of dolls? (I tried to find the least offensive picture of of these dolls). I think I actually remember my mother had one of these dolls in the 1980’s, so maybe that’s why I feel dirty. Right before I left the store, with the Mammy dolls in the far corners of my mind, I ran into a fourth booth that contained three advertisement posters depicting racist images. Two of them had little African American girls and one had an African American man on it, and all of them depicted frightening big eyed looking faces that would scare you into believing the lies that were spread about African Americans through out history. The one that depicted a man was selling toothpaste to “darkies,” and it said “It gets Their Teeth the Whitest!” I was horrified, as I stood there transfixed not being able to pull away, as the pain started welling inside my soul. I slowly walked away, just a little more damaged than I was before, and as I was leaving I vowed never to return to that store again.

Today I ran into a blogger’s post who was questioning whether or not we should destroy all racist memorabilia. She had read an article by Henry Louis Gates Jr in which he was talking about the two different schools of thought on the topic, as many African American collect this memorabilia, but also that many African Americans are rightfully hurt by the.images depicted from this memorabilia.

At first instinct I would want this racist memorabilia destroyed, but we cannot destroy it! We cannot forget our past! We cannot forgot about slavery, reconstruction, the Black codes, or segregation. We cannot forget about how African Americans were treated after the abolition of slavery. We cannot forget about the forced imprisonment of innocent men, we cannot forget about the lies and false accusations, and the subsequent lynchings. We cannot forget about how it was really the Whites who created our ghettos through refusing to give African Americans FHA loans, so that they can buy a home, and for redlining certain neighborhoods forcing African Americans into certain neighborhoods that we now call Ghettos. The list goes on and on, and these are part of all of our histories. We have to learn about it, and not hide it. Our education has been hiding the truth from us all since the beginning of time, because we live in a White Supremacist world.

My fellow blogger has experience racism when she lived in Hawaii, as Native Hawaiians are still hurt by the theft of their Island by the Whites.  I told my fellow blogger that am Irish too, but the Irish or the Whites in Hawaii have never experienced the racism that people of color, but especially the African diaspora have experienced ever since Whites set foot on their lands. The Irish, or any White person can move to a safe place, they can leave Hawaii, and they can assimilate into White culture. They have assimilated into White culture. African Americans cannot not do this, for the exact reason why they were enslaved in the first place, because of the color of their skin.

Last year I read the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Tatum, and she says that her definition of racism states that African Americans cannot be racist, there is no such thing as reverse racism, because racism implies receiving benefits or gaining rights through the detriment of others. I am still exploring what this means to me, but I can understand her point of view and I can agree with her on many levels.  I loved this book, and I learned so much about race relations and understanding racism because of her brilliant book.

*Update: I am not sure that this definition completely covers all of the issues of racism, but I do understand how she can define it this way.

So does this mean that Native Hawaiians cannot be racist towards Whites, because it was the Whites who benefited by stealing the Island? The Native Hawaiians were robbed, starved, and then kept in poverty. What did African Americans or Native Hawaiians ever do to European Americans to deserve this treatment?  Nothing! That’s why I feel that most  European Americans are the racist ones, and then they turn around and claim reverse racism when they don’t get their way or when they are afraid of a take over.

*Update: Does reverse racism exist? I believe in many situations when some European Americans claim reverse racism they are missing so much history and truth that their claim gets lost in the fear and hate that they don’t even know the origins of where this hate came from. White people for generations have been afraid of a take over, so is this fear where some of these origins lie?

My fellow blogger as a teen was beaten at the hands of some other teens who happen to be Native Hawaiian. Hawaiians are still very angry at the theft of their Island. Is this a situation where reverse racism could be real? Does this exempt their behavior, absolutely not. No one should experience a hate crime ever.

I don’t mean to out my fellow blogger in any hurtful way, I actually appreciate that she gave me the opportunity to reflect on what she had to say, and I needed to talk about her post because she brings up many important conversations on race that I feel need to be addressed. Disclaimer: I am not an expert on racism, and I will never understand what it feels like to be a person of color, but I am trying to learn and we all need to have these conversations.

We cannot interrupt racism without education, without learning the truth, and we have to have these conversations about race and racism.

What Does Being Colorblind Mean Today?

I was having a conversation the other day with a fellow blogger, her link is at Failure To Listen,  about being colorblind in our society. I do agree with her that her definition of being colorblind should be that all races are viewed equally and not judged by the color of ones skin, and also that everyone is given the same opportunities in life for advancement in every aspect of life from home ownership, education, to employment.  I think that definition is what color blindness is suppose to mean, but unfortunately all good intentions have fallen through the cracks and White supremacy has taken the lead once again. While it’s true that the definition of being colorblind means something different to different people. I thought it would be a good idea then to define what being colorblind means to me, or rather why I am reeducating myself to not being colorblind.

I am not color blind. I see that you are African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, European-American,  and etc. I see that you have a language and a culture that defines who you are, and I love the fact that we are all different and the yet still the same. I am raising my children to embrace all cultures, races, and lifestyle choices. I believe that being colorblind neglects the embracing of others, because it sets rules to abide by and to hide behind, because you don’t know any different. Being European-American I can easily assimilate into majority of circumstances. I can go to restaurants, festivals, the mall, or my school and be surrounded by faces that look like mine. I sit in school and learn about the history of my European genetic background. I can turn on the television, go the the movies, or open up any magazine, and see faces that look like mine. I don’t feel out of place, and I feel welcome no matter where I am. The realization of this kills me, because this means that I have been living an ignorant life. That most White people live in this state of ignorance every day of their lives, because it is safe and it is comfortable. The fact of  this realization has seeped into the rawest parts of my soul, and now where ever I go, I see this emptiness, this neglect to embrace all races. This neglect to include all races, and the half-ass attempt to include the “token” in advertisements or television shows is a joke, and a slap in the face of people of color and enlightened White people.

I feel that being colorblind gives people an excuse to say “I am colorblind, and therefore I am not racist.” Then they can turn around and neglect to see that we live in a society geared to White people, and that our world is run on global white supremacy. They neglect to see that our education system and our prison system are run on structural racism, and that the foundation was built in 1865, and the bricks that have been placed on top of each other ever since screams racism then, and still screams racism now.  The only difference is now we are “colorblind,” so we don’t have to talk about any more. We aren’t racist, and therefore we don’t see the color of your skin. I know that this isn’t true, we do see the color of your skin, racism still exists, and I believe that we need to reeducate ourselves to allow ourselves to see the color of ones skin and to embrace all races. European-Americans need to allow themselves to talk about race, so that we can learn to see discrimination, and work towards interrupting racism inside our own families.

Ramarley Graham’s Mother

This post is inspired by Ramarley Graham’s mother Constance Malcolm.

People never give up!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something! If there is a deep need or desire welling in the pit of your belly and you must let it out, let it out! If I listened to people’s opinions I wouldn’t be here today writing this blog. My soul screamed out that I needed to talk. I needed someone to listen. I needed to educated myself on race and racism, and anyone else who wanted to listen to my perceptions and thoughts. I live in a society predominated by global White supremacy, and while I am blessed to have a diverse group of friends in race and religion, most of them are of European descent. When I talk about race and inequality people clam up, people ignore me, and people outright oppose my need to express myself on these topics. Yes I feel fear, but I can’t let it stop me. I continuously remind myself of why I am doing this, and if you don’t understand then you don’t have to listen.

Ramarley Graham’s mother Constance Malcolm is torn from her own soul, because her child is dead and she is in pain and she is angry. I read in the paper this morning that the judge in the Ramarley Graham’s case threw out the indictment on the cop that murdered her son. She was ready to take her fight to the street and protest if necessary, but her family was opposed to her doing it. Frank Graham, Ramarley Graham’s father, might be opposed to taking it to the street, but he is not opposed to fighting for his son, for justice, and to put the cold murder in prison.

Why do people give up the fight so easily? Why are people so opposed to step out of their comfort zone and making a scene?  This is just life after all, and unless you believe in reincarnation you only have one life.  Why sit on the sidelines? We all need to jump in and either sink or swim, but if you don’t jump in you will never feel the cool waters of success on your skin. You will never have the satisfaction that you did it, and that you didn’t give up.

I am a mother, and I can feel the pain inside me, I can feel her loss, and I know that she isn’t going to give up. She will fight, and I won’t be on the sidelines just watching. I will be there in soul, and I will do my part from where I am, signing petitions and advocating that her son’s murderer Richard Haste will be held responsible.

How could Richard Haste think that a teenage boy had a gun? The article didn’t mention what happened before he chased this kid into his own home and shot him in cold blood in his bathroom in front of his younger brother and grandmother. There is something fishy with this story. If it looks like fish and smells like fish, then it’s probably a fish.

The United States needs to lose this image that an African-American teenage male is a criminal simply because of the color of his skin. African-American children are just children, and should not automatically assumed to be up to no good. This cop murdered this child. This cop murdered this child, because he thought he had a gun? Why did he think he had a gun, because he is black? Right, all black men carry guns, I forgot this is North America and we have to protect ourselves from cops.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=9103401

Racism from 1865 to 2013

This is another paper I wrote for a college class.

          Racism is not a thing of the past; unfortunately racism is still alive and well today, and it permeates our lives now just as much as it did in 1865. Our country was built on structural racism, and it has affected every aspect of the lives of African Americans since Europeans first set foot in Africa, and it is the root cause of the underdevelopment of our society and the African American community today. We have been talking about rights in class, and today many people of color are still fighting for their basic rights. Slavery was abolished in 1865, and African Americans were supposedly given freedom, the right to vote, and the right to an education.  This just wasn’t true in 1865 and in many cases it still is not true in 2013, because African Americans experience racism on a daily basis all over America not just in the south.  African Americans have the right to an education, the right to feel safe in their communities, and the right to a fair and just law enforcement system.

Our education system has been built upon the foundation and the walls of structural racism. It has been set up to hold back people of color from achieving success, to prevent them from receiving an education, and to prevent them from feeling any sense of pride of their own culture. At first glance an educated person would see that our education system is based on Eurocentric ideals and history, purposely leaving out any traces of other cultures, and even changing history to fit the mold and mindset of white supremacist ideas. Until more recently we never learned about other cultures and their histories, unless you took a specific college class to expand your horizons, you never learned anything but European history. Even today we barely cover other cultures, and in terms of African American history we barely cover the topic of slavery, we have set goals to try and forget this horrible past of ours. I keep hearing in the media that the Jewish people are taught to never forget the holocaust, and to never forget their past. Jewish people have been trying to assimilate into modern culture, and there are far less prejudices against the Jewish people today then there was in the past. Jewish people also have the benefit of being able to blend in, because they don’t have dark skin. African Americans are taught to forget their past; they constantly hear yes we know it sucked but get over it already! One of my White  classmates even said to me one day and I quote “we already know about slavery, we need to learn about other things that we don’t know yet.” African Americans have had a much different struggle assimilating into modern day culture, and in many cases they are still struggling. This struggle is based solely on the color of their skin, and the darker your skin, or the “blacker” you are the struggle becomes downright impossible. When African American students or any other student of color sits in a school classroom and never hears anything positive about their past, they never hear about the Kings and Queens of Africa. They never hear anything about authors, scientists, doctors, educators, mentors, inventors, warriors, or heroes from their own culture. The only thing that is taught about African American culture is that they were slaves, and about the two or three African Americans that fought for their freedom and rights such as Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King Jr.  This neglect to include all of our histories has left an empty space in our souls, it has taught African Americans that they are not interesting enough to study, and that they haven’t offered any positive contributions to our society. Actually it has taught all of us this unfortunate lesson, and this is one of the reasons why racism pervades our minds and our society today. This neglect is breeding racism. The best way to raise a racist child is to never talk about race, our beautiful differences, or our cultures. This neglect is breeding low self-esteem in young African Americans, and many have given up on themselves, because if society doesn’t believe in them then why should they believe in themselves and try to rise above.

Another issue with our education system is that there is a great disparity in disciplining different groups of students from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. Educational policies are being used unfairly and it is causing racial disparities in disciplining, grading, and dropout rates. Students of Latino and African American backgrounds are receiving harsher punishments for the same infraction as their White counterparts. The Zero Tolerance policy is one of the rules that are being used in the school systems today, and it is being used unfairly against students of color.  One in Four African American students are being suspended for non-violent minor infractions such as tardiness or not following the dress code policy.  The studies also show that one in three African American males from middle school is suspended at least once a year, and the numbers are higher if the child has a disability. At my son’s grade school, Kindergarten through fourth grade, there was an African American male student taken away from the school in a police car last year for an emotional outburst, and I am sure this is not an isolated incident. My child who has ADHD has been suspended for emotional outbursts, but an African American child is hauled away in a police car; there is something wrong with this system! Research shows that when teens are suspended they have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, for example a single suspension in ninth grade doubles the chance of dropping out. Schools are also encouraging high dropout rates of certain minority groups due to low test scores. The No Child Left behind Act is one school policy that creates incentives to push out low-performing students to boost overall test scores. Many schools lack resources to provide a proper education and support groups for students. These schools lack trained teachers, counselors, or even textbooks to keep struggling students in school. School drop outs are more likely to commit crimes due to boredom, or the need to pay for increased living expenses and taking care of their own families. The high dropout rate of Latino and African American students is causing an increase in crimes, and these teens are then being pushed into the prison system. The school to prison pipeline is the result of African American students experiencing high stress racism inside their high schools today. Once children are pushed into the juvenile justice system through the school to prison pipeline it is very difficult for them to reenter traditional schools and to assimilate back into society due to their records. Ida B. Wells says “ But threats cannot suppress the truth, and while the Negro suffers the soul deformity, resultant from two and a half centuries of slavery, he is no more guilty of this vilest of all vile charges than the white man who would blacken his name.” Schools need to take a serious look at the damaging effects of the school to prison pipeline, and concentrate on education, counseling, and programs to help these children succeed instead of relying on suspensions and law enforcement to discipline these children.

The prison system is another defining moment in the racist history of America from 1865 to 2013.  America’s addiction with the mass incarceration of African American and Latinos didn’t start with the war on drugs in the 1980’s. WEB Dubois says “Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The ‘shades of the prison-house’ closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly watch the streak of blue above.” White people have always needed a scape goat and an enemy to hate though out history, as I have learned in class about “the other.” After slavery was abolished in 1865 White people needed cheap labor to work on the plantations and in the surrounding communities, and so they devised a plan to re-enslave African Americans through the convict leasing system, wage peonage, and share cropping. The Black Codes that were set in place in the South took away many of the rights that African Americans were given after the abolition of slavery. The Black Codes made it impossible for African Americans to vote, to be on a jury, to own land, and to protect themselves in any way.  Law enforcement could basically trump up charges and haul innocent men into prison.  The convict leasing system was the first system to systematically imprison African American men in large quantities.  Many African American men were picked up and charged with vagrancy and sentenced to six months in jail, but unfortunately they would be dead in five months because of the harsh working conditions.  The working conditions in prison through the convict leasing system were more brutal than the conditions of slavery on Southern plantations. The government and law enforcement officers didn’t care that they were working their prisoners to death, because they felt that these men were disposable and they could just go pick up another man any time they wanted.  The convict leasing system helped build the South, they grew all of the agriculture, they built the rail road, and they did all of the mining.  The convict leasing system was finally shut down in the 1940’s when President Roosevelt passed laws outlawing it. When I hear people say that slavery was abolished in 1865 I feel compelled to tell them that this just is not true, because the convict leasing system was “slavery by another name,” so slavery did not end until the 1940’s. I recently found a website saying that Wisconsin has started a convict leasing system in their state, and they are so excited that they are saving tax payers money.  Many companies and businesses are relying on convict labor for making military uniforms and McDonald’s uniforms, and also IBM, Dell, Motorola, Compaq, Honeywell, Revlon, Boeing, Microsoft, Chevron, Eddie Bauer, Victoria’s Secret, Kmart and JC Penney all use convict labor. I am outraged by this information knowing that our law enforcement officers are imprisoning African Americans and Latinos at alarming rates, and most of these convicts are in prison for minor nonviolent drug charges. Many officers make cheap drug arrests by trolling certain neighborhoods just to make their quotas. They harass innocent people by racially profiling them; especially in New York City where officers are allowed to “Stop and Frisk,” and this law is widely used to make their monthly quotas. 80-90% of minority inmates should be in drug treatment centers not prison and if our capitalist society starts using free convict labor, slavery will be reborn once again. African Americans do not use, buy, or sell drugs more than their white counterparts. In fact more white people use, buy, and sell drugs, and yet there are more African American and Latino’s in prison for drug charges. The U.S. Census says that in 2009 there were 845,974 White drug arrests verses 437,623 Black drug arrests,” but there are more African American convictions compared to their White counterparts.  The damaging effects of the school to prison pipe line, the stop and frisk law, and the war on drugs for African Americans is numerous. The African American home has been destroyed, these children are growing up without a father , their mothers are working hard to feed and clothe them, and many children are left alone without supervision to find trouble to ease their boredom. Broken families are doomed to repeat the cycle, and when children see their fathers going to jail, they are most likely going to follow him, and end up in jail too. Once an African American man goes to jail his life is forever changed. The jail record will follow him for the rest of his life, and it will prevent him from being able to get a job, from receiving certain grants in college, from living in certain neighborhoods, from receiving certain health care benefits, and they lose the right to vote.  This will affect him and his family for generations due to poverty and alienation from society. This cycle has been repeating since 1865, and Americans keep pointing their fingers at African Americans and especially African American males and blaming them for the condition that they have been in since the beginning of time. This racism has to end, and it has to end today. Racism is not an African American problem, it is a white problem, and white people have to clean it up.

I am under the belief system that eradicating racism is the responsibility of you and me. Racism won’t go away unless we talk about it. We have been raised to never talk about it, because it causes people to feel uncomfortable. People are afraid to talk about racism or to confront it, because they are afraid someone will think that they are racist. We don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to feel bad, and it is still a problem and it’s not going to go away. Our education system, our government, our neighborhoods, our own families, and our law enforcement are all affected by racism. White people are also affected by racism, the repression of it, and the fear if it and the stigma attached to it. It’s time to start talking. We are all affected by racism and we are passing it down to our children. Keeping quiet will only perpetuate the problem.  Keeping quiet will only breed racism, and if we don’t talk to our children openly and honesty about race and racism, we will continue to pass on the legacy.  We need to reeducate society, we need to learn about other cultures, and we need to celebrate them too. We need to talk about race openly in our homes, and we need to teach our children to celebrate our differences not to feel uncomfortable because of them. This silence in our communities is breeding fear, and it is making many people uncomfortable to talk about race. This silence is breeding fear, and it is making people uncomfortable around people of color.  This silence is breeding racism, and it has to stop now. We need to break the silence, we need to speak up, and we need to stand up for our friends and neighbors of all races.