If one can agree that chattel slavery existed (and still exists) around the world, you would think that one could agree that racism exists as well. Unfortunately, many people would like to believe that racism is simply an ideology that people made up in the 2000s to divert from some “real” problem, like the ending of the world, who wins the next Super Bowl, or animal cruelty. It is unfortunate that black people are still attempting to convince others of their situation – but here we are, still preaching about the injustices and mistreatment of our people. Because I am totally sick of reiterating myself to people who do not even know the basics of our lovely American history, here are five things to remember about racism:
Now, slavery has existed around the world since the beginnings of time in one way or another and began being considerably recognized during the rise of the Roman Empire. It was not until the discovering of the New World (or the “new world” for European eyes) 1492 by Christopher Columbus that chattel slavery became normalized across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and many discussions. He became the first white man since the Vikings to travel to unfamiliar lands. It has been proven that he did not discover the Americas, but he did bring awareness to all of his European buddies about the brown people living in San Salvador, Dominica, and Hispaniola. Columbus actually ended up carrying some of these brown people (against their will) to work as slaves, before knowing the legality of chattel slavery at the time. Prior to 1492, there had been slaves transported from Africa consistently to European countries, particularly Portugal (1441).
- Small visual of the slave trade that began in the late 1500s. Most slaves were not transported to North America, but to South America.
The sugar-slave complex (1452) is the birther of chattel slavery, and perhaps the complex that changed the world. Sugarcane was first planted and harvested in Madeira, Portugal and people went nuts. People could now have people work for free on plantations harvesting sugarcane. Since then, economics and race relations have never been the same. Even though other forms of unfree labor were familiar in Europe throughout its history, historians see chattel slavery differently because slaves are seen as commodities that are being bought and sold rather than them solely treated as servants doing work. Even further than this, chattel slavery being brought to brown countries with brown people gave way to the birthing of colorism.
Colorism is racism, too.
Colorism (which is the belief that lighter your complexion is the better), perpetuates racism. Colorism is a sub-category of racism, and is the “prejudice” aspect of what makes racism. It is the idea that having mixed children absolves prejudice and eliminates the possibility for socially ‘unattractive’ offspring. It is the idea that having lighter complexion gives you a softer look and even softer personality. It is the idea that having darker skin makes you dirtier, more likely to commit a crime, more rugged, less refined. It is hearing Kodak Black reiterate words about dark black women being “too gutter” or hearing the constant praise of mixed-race people. It is putting European phenotypes on a pedestal and forcing contouring kits down throats. The fetishization of mixed children is sometimes looked at as proof that implicit bias still exists. If you place racial bias in any setting where there is power, racism is created.
Having mixed children can not, and will not “fix” racism.
First of all, there is no real way to “fix” racism unless you are strengthening it since racism is a powerful construct. This means that racism is defined as ‘prejudice plus power,’ which could not possible by knocked down by mixing phenotypes and genotypes. The correct way to end racism is to completely decimate the source. In essence, the only way to destroy racism is to stop teaching it. The roots of slavery lie in the history of not only our nation but the world. Colorism was spread as quickly as produce across borders, and the repercussions are still seen today.
Reverse racism does not exist
Racism = power plus prejudice
Before you get ahead of yourself, think again “what does it mean to be racist?” well, based on the idea of racism as a power construct, a racist would be someone who promotes its power and each. Now, don’t get me wrong – racism is not only black and white – but I will say it is white, and whatever else isn’t white. Based on our good friend history, racism was not created until European travelers decided to sweep some brown nations and see what is up over there. Because that is when and how racism was created, I believe it is safe to say that white people (Europeans) created racism in order to control people and make an economic profit. You cannot be racist if you do not hold power, however, you can be prejudiced, bigoted, and biased if you are not white. If someone black discriminates against someone white because of their skin color, they are subjecting someone to prejudice but not racism. It is important to understand how racism works because it is the only way to know how to stop its impact.
Slavery birthed racism, and racism is still seen today
If you ever believed that everyone in this world was treated equally, you were not only optimistic – but perhaps naive. Battles fought, lives lost, words written, songs sung, etc. cannot be undone and each has their own place in the world. What occurs throughout history has a direct and indirect influence on how we view, and what we view in the world. Slavery reached its hand in history and gave way to Jim Crow Laws, redlining, and Tignon Law. If racism was a thing of the past as soon as one deemed it so, we would not continually see new cases where minorities had to fight for their rights. It is seen in cases like Dred Scott Decision (1857), Strauder v. West Virginia (l880), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Levy v. Louisiana (1968). Other cases of justice and injustice based on racial struggle can be seen with a click of a mouse or keyboard. Although others stand in agreeance that America has yet to real racial equality, we have long ways to go.
African-Americans have been enslaved longer than they have been emancipated in this country, yet we are continually having the debate over whether the consequences of racism are still prevalent and/or detrimental. Most African-Americans (or black people in general) are only a couple generations from slavery. In fact, my great-grandmother is still alive and was a sharecropper in Mississippi. At the same time, families that used to own black slaves were able to build legacies, leave homes, and generate economic wealth. Matter of fact, this wealth is still being distributed and disbursed.
You cannot “fix” racism because it must be destroyed not mended
The first step to dismantling racism, eliminating prejudice, and removing hate are to discuss history – literally. Read history and weep until it hurts, because people are still hurting from ignorance. If there is one thing that is sure, it is that ignorance is a breeding ground for control and compliance.
Read up on American history, talk with people about their experiences, knowledge, and feelings, and most of all – work on yourself. Feed yourself knowledge. Here are a few articles I found pretty neat about the eerie history of our country:
“10 Eeerie Slave Hauntings of the Deep South”
“In Charleston, Coming to Terms With The Past”
“Is There A Right Way To Put Slavery Onscreen?”
Stay woke, everyone.