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“Isn’t Racism Over?”
A question that astonished me - and the answer is no!
“Isn’t racism over?”
This was an actual question I got from a white person I met In 2023. 2023!!!
And it made me realise how much work there still is to do.
While I was in England, I had conversations with lots of people. Some of them had read my book; others hadn’t. All of them were surprised to some extent by the experiences of racism I shared. And they were even more surprised to learn that these weren’t just things that had happened in the past - they were still happening today.
When I talk to my mum about her experience living in London in the 1960s, think about my experience in various parts of England in the 1990s, and discuss what my daughter is experiencing right now, it’s clear that there are commonalities.
Yes, some things have changed; but not enough has changed fast enough.
It is still possible to walk into an establishment and get the double take, as if your presence as a Black person is both unexpected and unwelcome.
It is still possible to have people not serve you in a restaurant.
It is still possible to be followed around a shop as if you’re a potential thief.
And it’s still possible - likely even - that in the course of any day you’ll be othered by a white person. That’s just the reality of being Black in England, and I don’t believe it’s any different for many Black people in the USA. I know it’s happened to me when I’ve been there.
The question also reinforces for me how different are the worlds we often live in. White people, for the most part, don’t have to think about racism at all. The “good white folx” raised to be “colour blind” truly believe that that’s enough to solve racism. Black people know that’s not the case.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the tendency to gaslight Black people when they say racism is a factor in a particular incident - white people, for the most part, are simply oblivious to the nuances Black people have to know to keep themselves safe.
So, what does all this mean? Simply that increasing racial literacy and learning to spot racism are essential skills for all white people, and especially for antiracist advocates.
I’m curious: what types of racism can you spot now that would have eluded you in the past? And how are you using that knowledge in your antiracism journey?
Thanks for reading
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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.