What Is “The White Community” Going To Do About Racism?

“I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family it says they’re looting, if you see a white family it says they’re looking for food.”

–2006 (not 2015) Kanye West

lootfindSaid in response to the structurally racist ways in which people who are black were portrayed in the media during the coverage of the response (and lack thereof) to hurricane Katrina.

Fast forward to today and the same structurally racist coverage is present.

Examples can be found in the ways the media treats white suspects better than black victims, and in the racialized double standards that exist in terms of what constitutes a riot and what doesn’t.

For some, it can be easier (and a form of privilege) to shrug singular examples off as isolated incidents, but compilations of isolated events are what patterns are made of. They raise more questions and paint a more telling picture.

This video from 2013 features tv show host Chris Hayes and writer Cord Jefferson in which they talk about Cord’s article on whiteness as a dangerous and irresponsible culture.

The segment was presented as satire to demonstrate the ways in which people who are black are portrayed in the media.  To me, it came off as a similar attempt at racial sociopolitical role reversal as was done in the short film Babakiueria in 1986, or even in White Man’s Burden by Spike Lee in 1995 (see trailer).

As I listened to the Hayes clip, and as I honestly struggle to process the uprising in Baltimore and the weight of its connections to the tradition of  taking of black lives and the damage done to black bodies at the hands of police brutality in a system that criminalizes blackness, I’m wondering why the questions posed in the Hayes clip can’t be legitimately asked to people who are white in the same ways people of color are both blamed, and asked to take responsibility for the manifestations of symptoms; the social problems we experience as a result of living in a society built on the notion and enforcement of white supremacy without the veil of satire.

In 2015, with everything that’s going on right now, regardless of who’s in the White House, or who is the current Attorney General, it is past time for people who are white to ask themselves, “What are we going to do about this? What are we going to do, to undo racism?”

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

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I'm a Social Worker, Educator, and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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