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White people may not feel that we have anything to do with these larger problems, but our silence is part of the problem.Our acceptance of the status quo makes these injustices harder to challenge.There are some state and federal laws that have been (or should be) put into legislation requiring greater accountability for police officers’ use of deadly force.
To say racism is only about ignorance denies the ways racism is perpetuated even by those who denounce white supremacy and seek to work against it.
A related sentiment is that people of color benefit from talking about racism—that they have a “race card” they can play to their advantage.
We share the same benefits from the sinful legacy of racism.
If we have no intention of offending someone else and no consciousness of racial bias, then we may feel resentful for being accused of racism.
If we are not paying attention to how others are harmed by large social forces that may be out of our personal control but nevertheless benefit us in unjust ways, our inattentiveness to these social forces can be hurtful.
Paying attention to the ways racism continues to unjustly privilege white people and disadvantage people and communities of color enables us to see racism as much bigger than our intentions.The following myths often arise or lurk near the surface in white people’s discussions of racism.This perspective can be seen in the question “Why do we need to talk about that?If racism were just about mean actions and words, then we could easily say this is not about us; we ourselves do not harbor racist beliefs or say racist things (at least to people of color). The first is that it assumes that we are the best judges of whether we are racist or not.The second is that it misses a whole world of data that shows less obvious factors in racial inequality and discrimination.In other words, name not just the negative side of the impact of racism on communities of color, but also the way white people have benefited from years of racism.These privileges may be different for whites who experience other aspects of their identity as marginalizing, but there are enough examples that it is possible for even the most disadvantaged white person to be able to relate to at least one of them.” She points out the irony that the liability of race has come to stand for an asset: a special card.To respond to this sentiment, it can be helpful to highlight recent statistics about the impact of race on one’s ability to secure a mortgage from a bank or pass wealth on to one’s children, to be shown homes one is interested in buying or renting, to get interviewed for a job, or to live a long life with access to quality health care—or, conversely, one’s likelihood of being stopped by the police.While overt racial discrimination is outlawed, there are ways in which laws continue to enable such discrimination to take place.Michelle Alexander has argued that the harsh drug laws of the 1980s’ War on Drugs have resulted in the mass incarceration of men of color through prison sentences and felony convictions that justify the same kind of discrimination allowed legally under the Jim Crow laws of 1877–1950: housing discrimination, job discrimination, and the inability to vote.