What If? Would You Consider That Systemic Racism? (WYCTSR?)
White people: I invite you to take a journey of imagination with me to an alternate reality in the United States where White people choose to walk in Black people’s shoes through our nation’s history, in a unique unconventional way. If you are White and do not believe there is systemic racism in the United States (like Lindsey Graham) please open your mind for this journey. While you are reading this, pretend you are an unprivileged White person observing what it would be like to be a privileged Black person. Let’s imagine that the majority of our present population is and has always been Black or people of color and the minority of our present population is and has always been White. Also, imagine that Black people and POC have always enjoyed what we call today “White Privilege.”
The purpose of this experiment in role switching is to help us White people determine what Systemic Racism is and what it feels like. What stories or scenarios determine if systemic racism is real or imagined? For the purpose of our journey let us assume that Racism is the judging of people strictly by the color of their skin and that the color of your skin determines how much power and privilege you hold over people who don’t look like you.
Assume also that the people with the most power make all the rules that govern our society, and those same people create government policies making sure that ‘The Others” are always left behind in the Systems of Government they create to maintain their power. The systems are The Financial/Wealth System, The Educational System, The Political System, The Voting/Electoral System, The Healthcare System, The Judicial System, The Prison System, The Employment Opportunity System, The Career Advancement System, The Housing System and any other system you can think of.
Let us proceed on our journey fully aware that the whole concept of race is a social construct invented to keep certain people in their place — the place that the people in power have decided is below them. Can we take a walk in the shoes of another completely made up race of people — unprivileged White people — and see and feel what it is like for them on a daily basis? Let’s try. Let’s just imagine…
What if Black people throughout their lifetime earned 10X what White people earned? What if Black people held the top 10% of the wealth in the USA? Would You Consider That Systemic Racism? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black people were the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies? (WYCTSR?)
What if most banks were Black-owned and gave more housing and business loans to Black people than to White people? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black people were elected to high government offices throughout USA history, including now? (WYCTSR?)
What if most cabinet and ambassadorship positions were given to Black people throughout USA history, including now? (WYCTSR?)
What if the Supreme Court and other President-appointed judges were mostly held by Black people throughout USA history, including now? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black people were allowed to vote in national and local elections in America? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black people lived in the finest, most expensive homes in the richest exclusive neighborhoods throughout America? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black students had access to state of the art schools, computers and other educational advantages/resources, while White people had to settle for separate (but equal) educations in run-down schools with outdated books and old computers? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly Black teachers/professors were the primary educators in our nation’s schools, community colleges and universities? (WYCTSR?)
What if our nation’s healthcare system was primarily focused on good outcomes for the health issues of Black people, while White people’s health issues were taken less seriously? (WYCTSR?)
What if more White people than Black people were dying of COVID-19, because of White people’s underlying health issues not being adequately addressed before the pandemic?(WYCTSR?)
What if White people were hesitant to take a vaccine for COVID-19 because of past experiences throughout our nation’s history of being treated as guinea pigs for disease experimentation studies? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly White people were followed in stores, because they were automatically suspected of being shoplifters? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly White people were stopped routinely by police for walking or driving or being in a neighborhood or public place because they were automatically suspected of being “up to no good”? (WYCTSR?)
What if mostly White people were convicted of crimes and sent to prison, sometimes for crimes they did not commit or which would be considered as minor infractions of the law if committed by Black people?(WYCTSR?)
What if White people were demanding and peacefully protesting for police reforms across America because they were most likely to be harassed and killed due to law enforcement techniques that professionals in police training regarded as excessive force? (WYCTSR?)
What if White people were treated as “less than” or “the others” throughout our nation’s history and their contributions to our country’s growth were not included or barely mentioned in the history texts our students learn from? (WYCTSR?)
What if White students had to work twice as hard to be recognized as good students, because their intellectual capabilities were considered to be inferior to Black students? (WYCTSR?)
What if White people were summarily passed over for employment oppor- tunities and promotions in their chosen profession or line of work, because they were deemed less capable, educated, experienced or reliable than Black people? (WYCTSR?)
What if White people had to give their children “The Talk” to protect them from becoming victims of brutality by rogue police, knowing that their whole family was at risk every time they walked out the door because of their White skin? (WYTCSR?)
So — White people — that was a short walk imagining what your life would be like if Black people had privilege and White people didn’t. Or if Black people had civil rights and White people didn’t. Or if Black people had power and White people didn’t. Or if Black people had opportunities for advancement and White people didn’t. It was uncomfortable wasn’t it? If the experiment made you feel powerless as an unprivileged White person, you now know how unprivileged Black people feel. If you were able to recognize how the different racist systems in America treated you as an unprivileged White person, you now know how unprivileged Black people feel under those same exact systems. So let’s change those racist systems that were set up to help White people thrive at the expense of Black people and other POC.
We cannot change racist systems that we cannot see — or refuse to see — like Lindsey Graham. Our country can do better than we have done since our Founding Fathers set their racist plans and systems in motion while nameless slaves toiled in the fields of the plantations of their masters, hoping for a better future.
We can choose to DO better than this. We can choose to BE better than this.
We are One Human Race — One Human Family.
We need each other to survive.