Racism cuts both ways in harm­ing chances for progress

Albuquerque Journal - - OPINION - ES­THER CEPEDA Colum­nist E-mail: es­ther­j­cepeda@wash­post.com. Copy­right, Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group.

CHICAGO — A few re­cent head­lines could be filed un­der the cat­e­gory “Racism Is Bad and Wrong.”

First up, a con­tro­versy in which an African-Amer­i­can nurse work­ing at the In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity Health sys­tem posted this screed on Twit­ter: “Ev­ery white wo­man raises a detri­ment to so­ci­ety when they raise a son. Some­one with the HIGH­EST propen­sity to be a ter­ror­ist, rapist, racist, killer, and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence all star. His­tor­i­cally ev­ery son you had should be sac­ri­ficed to the wolves B----.”

She was promptly fired.

In Lake Villa, Ill., a His­panic de­tec­tive who was in the process of con­duct­ing a theft in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­sponded to a group of teen sus­pects who asked why they were be­ing de­tained with: “Be­cause you’re white.”

It was a bizarre thing to say — Lake Villa is a pre­dom­i­nantly white outer-ring sub­urb of Chicago. If you watch the video (http://bit.ly/2AVUXLC), which im­me­di­ately went vi­ral, the com­ment came to­tally out of the blue, since the teens had not made any ref­er­ences to race or po­lice mis­treat­ment or any­thing that would seem to elicit such a re­sponse.

The de­tec­tive — who apol­o­gized to the teen who filmed the video — was dis­ci­plined.

Lastly, the Uni­ver­sity Star, the stu­dent news­pa­per of Texas State Uni­ver­sity, re­cently came un­der fire for print­ing a stu­dent’s guest op-ed col­umn ti­tled “Your DNA is an abom­i­na­tion.”

The stu­dent, who is His­panic, wrote, among other ex­plo­sive things: “On­to­log­i­cally speak­ing, white death will mean lib­er­a­tion for all. To you good-hearted lib­er­als, ap­a­thetic ni­hilists and right-wing ex­trem­ists: ac­cept this death as the first step to­ward defin­ing your­self as some­thing other than the op­pres­sor. Un­til then, re­mem­ber this: I hate you be­cause you shouldn’t ex­ist. You are both the dom­i­nant ap­pa­ra­tus on the planet and the void in which all other cul­tures, upon meet­ing you, die.”

The uni­ver­sity pres­i­dent, Denise M. Trauth, re­leased a state­ment declar­ing, “The col­umn’s cen­tral theme was ab­hor­rent and is con­trary to the core val­ues of in­clu­sion and unity that our Bob­cat stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff hold dear. As pres­i­dent of a uni­ver­sity that cel­e­brates its in­clu­sive cul­ture, I de­test racism in any man­i­fes­ta­tion.”

The stu­dent news­pa­per is­sued its own state­ment in which it apol­o­gized for hav­ing “caused hurt” within the cam­pus com­mu­nity.

The in­ci­dent had the net ef­fect of serv­ing as more kin­dling on the fire for those who feel that (a) Amer­i­can col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties seem to ex­ist solely to in­doc­tri­nate stu­dents with far-left pro­pa­ganda and (b) the only log­i­cal re­sponse to ha­tred is more, and harsher, ha­tred.

The pen­du­lum is swing­ing back and forth at a dizzy­ing speed, with du­el­ing fin­ger-point­ing at oth­ers’ poor be­hav­ior — as if ev­ery­one started out on equal eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal foot­ing. The re­sult is es­ca­lat­ing vit­riol from two sides dig­ging in their heels and in­creas­ingly act­ing as if racism ei­ther barely ex­ists or over­lays ev­ery hu­man in­ter­ac­tion in Amer­ica.

But when peo­ple of color start see­ing all white peo­ple as racist mon­sters, white peo­ple start see­ing all peo­ple of color as racism ac­cusers. When geno­cide ter­mi­nol­ogy gets bandied about by ei­ther camp, it’s pretty clear ev­ery­one needs a re­minder that two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Racism is racism, pe­riod,” said Gus­tavo Arel­lano, au­thor of sev­eral books about Mex­i­can cul­ture, for­mer edi­tor of OC Weekly and cre­ator of the pop­u­lar “Ask A Mex­i­can!” col­umn. “Some peo­ple say that peo­ple of color can’t be racist be­cause they don’t come from white priv­i­lege, but they’re wrong, be­cause that de­nies ba­sic hu­man­ity — none of us are per­fect, we all have our own big­otries. Tak­ing out our frus­tra­tions [over in­jus­tices to­wards non-whites] on white peo­ple doesn’t solve any­thing.”

Arel­lano told me the same thing my par­ents said as I was grow­ing up: “There are bad white peo­ple, bad African-Amer­i­cans, bad His­pan­ics, bad all kinds of peo­ple, but we can’t paint ev­ery­one with one big paint­brush.”

When sto­ries cir­cu­late about white-pro­fil­ing de­tec­tives of color and stu­dents who con­sider white peo­ple “an aber­ra­tion,” they have the ef­fect of mak­ing mi­nori­ties even more of a tar­get for ha­tred by peo­ple who al­ready think we don’t be­long.

And the same goes for white peo­ple — the vast ma­jor­ity cringe at the very no­tion that they might be en­vi­sioned by oth­ers as torch-wield­ing white su­prem­a­cists.

Be­fore you make any snap judg­ments about peo­ple, re­mem­ber that racism cuts both ways, dam­ag­ing re­la­tions that may yet have a chance at tak­ing a turn for the bet­ter.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.