• author
    • Maya Spier Stiles North

      Columnist, Copy Editor
    • November 27, 2017 in Columnists

    Bigotry is not racism

    Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit.
    Alveda King

    Bigotry is not racism. It’s a common mistake. Bigotry is hatred of a person you do not know based on dislike of an entire group of people — and that sad list of excuses is endless. Almost every group hates some other group. I would have to say that accumulated and justifiable rage fuels much of the bigotry toward whites given blacks in this country have not spent several hundred years tormenting whites in one form or another starting with slavery, then lynching and night riders and now an enormously disproportionate number of incarcerations and police brutality among other ongoing horrors.

    Racism is systemic oppression. It is reflected in statistics and in the fact that white people do not have to deal with ubiquitous and unrelenting societal crap based only on the artificial concept of race.

    • It is the statistically backed reality of a white frat boy getting 6 months for a brutal rape because the judge “didn’t want to ruin such a promising young life” – a sentence he did not fully serve – and a fragile, tiny 17-year-old black boy getting 15 or so years for credit card fraud.
    • It’s black people being followed around in fine stores by security to ensure they don’t steal.
    • It’s a man perceived as white killing a black boy who wasn’t doing a damned thing getting off but a pregnant black woman with a small child to protect firing a warning shot aimed not to hit her abuser getting 7 years in prison.
    • It’s people with black sounding names not getting hired.
    • It’s black parents teaching their boys how to survive a traffic stop. It is a black family moving into a nice white neighborhood and worrying about acceptance.

    These are things white people do not even have to think about. White people alive now largely did not create this system, but benefit from it constantly.

    It doesn’t mean whites aren’t poor. It doesn’t mean they aren’t treated unfairly in the justice system or are never horribly beaten by the cops. But by percentages of the population (raw numbers do not reflect the truth — only percentages are accurate), whites are treated better than blacks on a systemic scale.

    Interestingly, Native Americans are easily treated as badly as black people with little attention paid to them, but when attention is brought to it, there is widespread outrage even from some people who turn around and deny this is true for black people or blame black people themselves for their own mistreatment.

    And that is the difference.

    As a final point, consider this. Philando Castile and his love, Diamond Reynolds, and her tiny daughter were stopped because of the fact that blacks are considered criminals inherently. He informed the cop calmly that he had a permit for concealed carry, and when the cop demanded to see Mr. Castile’s wallet and Mr. Castile was complying, the cop shot him dead in front of his love and that sweet little girl. Ms. Reynolds, who also had done nothing, was handcuffed as her 4-year-old begged her to be careful so she wouldn’t get shot, too. Philando Castile was a beloved supervisor in a school cafeteria who knew the names of every kid in the school. George Zimmerman, a petty criminal, domestic abuser and ne’er-do-well, who murdered Trayvon Martin for no good reason, is alive today. After Dylann Roof murdered 9 people in a church, he was arrested peacefully. The officers then took him to Burger King for a hamburger because he was hungry.

    And that is white privilege in a nutshell.


      • Greg Harrison

      • November 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm
      • Reply

      This story is just one of the many stories I could tell about my personal experiences of racism in the workplace and frankly, they bring up memories that I would prefer to keep dormant. But I share them to: a) Affirm the voices of those of us who have been on the receiving end of racism in the workplace. (you are not crazy and it is not a figment of your imagination) and, b) Invade your consciousness with this reminder that everyday white privilege and color blindness continues to be the most powerful agent of racism in our world.

      WHEN I LEARNED THAT RACISM WAS NOT SUBTLE

      In 1975 I was an Airman First Class in the Air Force and newly assigned to a communications unit in Florida. I walked into my new First Sergeant’s office and was immediately assaulted by a 4’ by 4’ confederate battle flag hanging on the wall.

      I swallowed hard before I spoke and asked him why he had a confederate flag and not the US flag hanging in his office. With disarming matter-of-factness, he told me that he was “doing it for cultural impact” and that it went well with the hangman’s noose he had dangling in the corner behind the door to his office. I choked on the intent of his message because I knew I was in the Deep South, where the images of black men swinging from trees were not just history, but RECENT history.

      After reading me the riot act on what he expected from his “boys” he eventually threw me out of his office, and reminded me that I could forget about being treated like his “regular troops”, and that I had “better watch your ass around here, watermelon”. That incident, and the flag it epitomized, remains burned in my memory forty plus years later.

      Racism taught me that my perspective is mostly invalid and that the pain of my people, past or present, is unimportant.


        • Maya Spier Stiles North

        • November 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm
        • Reply

        Your experience literally left me breathless — with horror, outrage and honest grief. Thank you so much for sharing this unconscionable and indefensible treatment. It must have been both terrifying and desolating.

        The fight should have been over now, but it seems it is still just beginning.

        I am so ashamed, but I try to use it to fuel my passion as an ally. To my dying breath, I’ve got your back.


          • Greg Harrison

          • December 3, 2017 at 3:24 pm

          Thank you Maya.


      • Terri Connett

      • December 1, 2017 at 11:57 am
      • Reply

      Preach, Sister Maya! Well done, as always 🙂



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