Racism is not a problem specific to the United States – Racism and ethnic biases exist pretty much in any place where there are more than 2 human beings within view of each other. That said, there are few countries in which Racism and its effects are more plainly seen on a daily basis, and often used by one group to benefit another than here in the United States.
In my view, I would attribute the increase in Racial tension in the United States to 4 things:
What can we do about this?
Well, first we can all try harder to understand each other just a bit. Sometimes something perceived as a micro-aggression, like not saying “hello” to a person inside your personal space while getting your coffee, is not an act of Racism. Some people are quiet in the morning before caffeination. That said, if you are inside another person’s personal space, make a point to acknowledge a fellow human being. Smile. Say “hello.” At least say “pardon” or “excuse me.”
If you are a Police Officer, remember some of your training where you were trained on how to de-escalate a situation? Make sure you use that training whether its an upset elderly woman who’s screaming at her husband, or an upset Black man who might be yelling at his friend. We’re all human beings. Shooting first and claiming you were in danger isn’t going to help you or anyone else in a world full of witnesses and cell phone cameras. If you can’t de-escalate the situation and your feelings keep getting in the way, consider another line of work.
If are having an encounter with a Police officer, remain calm, move slowly, remember to be polite and speak in your inside voice. You shouldn’t have to act a particular way. That said, both the Police officer and the encountered person would like to survive the day and be able to go home. Let’s work together to make sure that happens.
In the workplace, before you berate that employee for being late, EVERYONE is late. Some people a lot less frequently than others, but everyone is late. Its not intentional. People are not doing it on purpose to disrespect you (most of the time). If you find that someone is often late, before yelling at the late person, maybe you should check the schedules of the other people who work for you, and see how many of them actually make it early or on time. You might find once you widen that focus a bit that the person you are focusing on may not be as late as the people you aren’t really watching.
In class, if you are a teacher, check your tone. Why? There’s a bunch of studies out there that indicate that you are likely yelling at the minorities in your class, or subjecting them to a higher level of scrutiny than the rest of the kids. You might consider recording your teaching over a period of a week or two and checking yourself to see if you are treating some kids differently than others. Entertain the idea that maybe its not because one kid is a jerk or has a bad attitude about school and that maybe you had an idea about “the way that kid is” before he or she ever opened their mouths.
Oh, and one more thing – Black folks in the US can’t be Racists. We are and have quite often exhibited Bigoted behavior or displayed a racial bias. That said, since Black folks do not own the power structure, nor do we have the benefit of being able to use that structure to take your job, your life, or your wealth, we do not have the tools necessary to be Racists.
That would be why when a White Person says, “That’s Racist” you get the look from us that can generously be translated to mean , “Oh damn, it’s my turn to be THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE BLACK PEOPLES and explain this shit… again.”
This conversation has been roughly 400 years in the making. Its not likely to be over anytime soon. 40 years ago, Martin Luther King tried to start the conversation, along with JFK, his brother, Malcolm X and a few others, and they all got shot.
Apparently we weren’t ready to start that conversation then.
Maybe we are now?