Systemic Racism, White People, and Why Mike Brown is such a big deal.

In waiting for the verdict of the grand jury in the Ferguson case, I already knew what was going to happen. I wasn’t shocked by the no indictment. I couldn’t be. It was already decided, already proven way before it had even went to trail – way before it had even happened. It was already decided when it happened in the Trayvon Martin Case, when it happened to Oscar Grant, when it happened to Sean Bell. The verdict was read way before November 24, 2014.

That is because there is systemic racism in America. Systemic racism (sometimes referred to as institutional racism) is any system of inequality based on race. It is different from individual racism because it is inequality from a business, system, or other societal structure. It is not based on one person’s opinion, but the rules and regulations of a greater entity. Systemic racism occurs when the way a society is structured systematically ends up giving advantages to some and disadvantages to others.

An easy way to explain systematic racism is in the purchase of bandages. When a person goes to the store to buy Band-Aids for a cut, the only colors available in most retail stores are of a lighter complexion. A dark brown skin person, like myself, will never find Band-Aids in my skin color at a major retail store in America. That is inequality that was set up by a business, it is not racism of one person in particular.

The judicial system is another form of systemic racism in America. There is an inequality of punishment in the courts system in America dependent on the color of the suspect’s skin. Black people are often punished at a much higher and harsher rate than white people who commit the same crime. And white people who commit crimes against black people are often set free without punishment.

Although I am well aware of systemic racism in America and knew that the decision was written before the trail had ever begun, it disgust me that I wasn’t shock at the verdict. I wanted to believe. I wanted to have faith in this country that has PROMISED me equal opportunity and freedom. I wanted to believe that we made up systematic racism, that it really didn’t exist. I wanted to believe that this country wasn’t smiling in my face and stabbing me behind my back. But it’s impossible to unsee what is already shown to you.

However, it amazes me how many people still don’t see. The media has done a great job at hiding the underlying message and disguising the systemic racism in this country. They’ve done a great job at blaming the victim and convincing viewers to focus their attention on the wrong doing of the victim, instead of the inequality of the nation. The media paints the perfect picture of an aggressive black male, no matter the age or what was really in his pocket, who deserved to be killed.

It reminds me a lot of the stories of girls who dress in short skirts and belly shirts, who are raped and then told that they wanted it. That she provoked that behavior because of the way that she was dressed. Society did a great job of blaming the victim for the crime that was done to her.

But people aren’t taking that any longer.  There are millions of people fighting rape, sexual assault, harassment and sexism. Women, men, and faces of all colors are standing up and saying no more. They don’t want to blame the victim anymore and they won’t allow you to do it either. They are taking a stance and telling society that wrong is wrong and doing everything in their power to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

But why isn’t this happening in systematic racism? Why aren’t people taking the same stance against police brutality aimed at young black men? It’s the same principal. Society is blaming the victim for the crime committed against them. The police are killing black males and telling them that they were asking for it. If wrong is wrong, let’s hold the wrongdoer accountable no matter the color of their skin.

If we can all agree that systemic racism is wrong, just as we can agree that rape is wrong, then we have to take the same stance. People of all colors, genders, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc., have to stand together against the system in place and hold the wrongdoer accountable.

It is important that all people, black, white, or other, are outraged whenever injustice happens. If any group of people ignore an issue because they haven’t opened their eyes to see the problem, or simply because it’s not impacting them directly, the problem will continue to persist. When people turn a blind eye to injustice, it allows for an environment for the oppressor to continue to oppress. The people who are being oppressed cannot make the difference, they don’t have the power. People who are in the same groups as the people in power have to be the ones to make the change.

If white people never stood up to slavery, there would still be slavery today. The slaves had no power. They could not be the ones to cause change. It had to come from people who were a part of the group with the power. If adults didn’t stand against child abuse, we would live in a world where it was okay to abuse your children. Children have no power, they cannot be the ones to make change. If society is waiting for black people to make change happen in systemic racism, it is not going to happen. We are not the ones with the power. It has to come from people in the group that has the power.

My point is simple. White people have to be as outraged as black people in the injustice of America’s judicial system if there is every going to be a change. If you are of a race that is not racially profiled and unfairly sentence in the court of law and you are not acknowledging that this exist, then you are helping systemic racism exist in America. You are unintentionally racist.

If you are not a part of the solution, you are a big part of the problem. So which side are you on?

 

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