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Racism is not dead

Race is a social construction. Race is not biological.

In 2007, Rachel Dolezal, who is the former Spokane NAACP president, decided instead of being white, she would be black. This masquerade was going well until her parents unleashed the truth — that she had been lying to everyone. So, of course the media had a fun time breaking apart her life to get better ratings and more views. Yet Dolezal kept claiming that she was black.

People have mixed feelings on her choice to play dress up. Some people think what Dolezal did was brave. “Brave” is not the correct term for pretending to be a non-white race. A person should not be considered brave because she painted her body and pretended to be non-white.

The people who live their lives as a racial minority must live that life. They do not get to take off their makeup and go back to their privilege whenever they choose. Acknowledging what she did as brave acknowledges that there must have been a struggle to live as someone of a non-white race, which acknowledges that people of a non-white race live in a society where they do not have exact equality. People call cancer survivors “brave”’ People call people who have struggled and forged through a struggle”‘brave.’ So, if we are to acknowledge that she somehow did something “brave,” we must acknowledge that everyone in this world who is a racial minority, or simply non-white, lives a life where they encounter struggles simply because of the race other people define them as.

Many people, especially those of privileged, claim racism does not exist anymore. Saying racism does not exist because it is not obvious is like saying murder does not exist because you have never witnessed it firsthand. People sometimes say, “Racism only exists because the … keep bringing it up. If they let it be … .”

We somehow have an unlimited number of fingers to point at everyone except ourselves. We push so many things off like it is not our problem. When it is our problem, racism affects everyone. Racism just effects everyone differently.

People of the privileged class tend to hate when “white privilege” is mentioned, yet the same people are so quick to eat up their privileges and become aggravated when some of their privilege is no longer there. And perhaps, white privilege is not necessarily gaining something, so much as it is the other races are knocked a notch down. A good example of white privilege is when a white person commits a crime. People try to find a reason for that person’s action: maybe he was mentally ill, or perhaps he was bullied. Yet, when a person of a non-white race commits a crime, people blame his entire race for the crime, or he’s thought of as a “thug.” White privilege is the ability to have people try to excuse your actions. Another example of white privilege is a white person from Canada being able to purchase groceries without any trouble. Yet a Hispanic person from Florida goes into the same grocery store and people assume the person is not a citizen. White privilege is the ability to walk into a store without being followed by the sales associates. Whereas a black person who walks into the store is followed.

White privilege is being able to succeed in something academic and having your brain or studying habits complimented, as opposed to being black and speaking English well and be complimented with, “You sound white, not black.” White privilege is being able to have academic success actually revolve around what the white person did well internally. The other races’ academic success involves people telling him he does not act as the race he defines himself as and basically stating the superior race is white, by acting like saying “You’re practically white,” is the same as saying “You’re so smart.”

Racism, at least in the media, is not so subtle lately, yet there are many subtleties involved in racism. And perhaps the “subtleties” are not so much subtle as they are common and often overlooked.

You do not have to lynch someone to be a racist or to be doing racist acts. When you open your mouth and let out, “I’m not racist, but …,” the next words you say will most likely be racist, or, “A lot of my friends are a different race than me so I can say it.” “It” meaning “something racist.” Saying, “I’m not racist, but…” is like if I were to say, “I don’t eat potatoes,” and then turn to the waiter and say, “I’ll take a side of fries, please.”

I can say that fries are not potatoes, that fries are shaped differently, that fries are not the same texture as a potato. I can say the potato and the fries are not cooked the same. I can deny the fries-and-potato correlation all I want, but once the day is over, the fries were made out of the potato. Just because you do not view the “joke” or statement you are about to say as racist does not mean it is not racist.

The racial stereotypes need to stop, because they perpetrate racism.

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