As an educator, are you ready to have these conversations with your pupils and students? Are you confident enough to be able to navigate and frame these distractions? Have you reconciled them in your own mind?
The following are distractions to the racism they all serve to maintain the status quo.
Distraction is a function white supremacy.
Seeing Racism solely as Individual acts. ‘I’m not a bad Person’.
Racism is systemic, structural as well as individual. I often state that individual acts are symptoms of institutionalised and structural racism. Yes, of course, someone attacking a person of colour because of their skin tone is abhorrent. However, this person has gained these views because the system allows it, actually because the system propagates and protects it.
When we frame racism solely as single acts, it’s effortless to play the ‘I don’t use that language’ and the ‘I’m not a bad person’ argument. Propagating racism is the norm, the system we live in adversely impacts the lives of people of colour in the UK. Here are some examples, you receive longer custodial sentences (for the same crimes), receive worse healthcare, achieve worse educational outcomes, are less likely to secure interviews, more likely to be bullied in the workplace, etc. I could go on all day.
What about the poor white people? What about the white people who have died in police custody? All lives matter though?
This is simple; support for one cause does is not an exclusive agreement, supporting anti-racism does not exclude you from resisting police brutality on the whole.
At best ‘All lives matter’ is really poor etiquette.
Would you go to a COVID 19 ward and scream at the victims, while sick and dying that all people matter, because you’d be correct, they do, but as 1. The people afflicted systemically by a disease are currently dying, and you’re are sending the message that their current plight is not as worthy 2. The conversation has moved from the COVID 19 patient to elsewhere. This act is described in detail later.
Is not Race its class?
This argument always baffles me. As a working-class boy, I grew up in relative poverty; Yes, I understand things were hard for all of us. However, my white counterparts didn’t have to deal with being followed around shops, harassed by the police, being told by a teacher, and I quote:
“it’s a shame you aren’t white. You’re really bright; you could have made something of your life.”
I understand that class has a factor in the overall oppression of a person; however, trying to disaggregate is not only pointless it’s damaging.
We live in a meritocracy if people work hard enough, they’ll rise the ranks and achieve like the rest of us. This is the most insidious lie that we teach and swallow, “work hard, the harder you work, the more you’ll receive” It just doesn’t work like that. I’m going to explain why you can’t, do you own research here.
When PoC and especially Black people do not achieve the same levels, this is put down by the above rhetoric that they don’t work hard enough; it’s never because of institutionalised racism. It follows into the genetically inferior and lazy trope which has been around for centuries.
Centring on anything which isn’t Racism
I often hear that I should consider how I am making my challenges. There are a couple of things here. First, the aggressive man of colour is a common trope; we also know that this once these associations are made they impact on our perception. The second thing here is that this distraction is clear as day. As soon as you start talking about the nature of the challenge, you are no longer talking about racism. This process feels easier; it so much more comfortable but it takes away from the crux of the issue and ultimately upholds and promotes its.