The -Isms V. Bigotry

So There has been a lot of issues coming up lately about this idea of racism. Many people throw it around quite a bit but very few seem to truly understand what it means. Most use the simplest definition they can find because it seems to support their position (this is true of most-isms out there). This is the thing, however: if you want to use the term, know what it means and how it is actually used, not your personal belief.

What most people describe when they discuss racism, sexism, and the like is actually bigotry. They are not discussing the particular ism. See, the -isms have one thing in common – you must be in a position of Power in order to pursue them. They are systematic issues propagated by a system which we all take part in. The system is generally set up to cater to the dominant and typically the majority group. As such, while a Black person could, for example, have bigoted actions, they cannot be racist. Racism requires power. And individually, it requires power and bigoted actions. That is something minority populations do not have in our society. It is why things such as #OscarsSoWhite and #BlackLivesMatter receive so much attention. It is why you should look to the people leading those charges and their words before you look to mine. It is why you should listen to the words of the entire community and not that one friend (particularly is that friend is on the dominant side of the conversation). Read the original sources.

See, if you are part of a majority population and feel you have someone acting these ways against you, imagine feeling and experiencing that everyday of your life in one regard or another. Unless you have taken some time to read or had someone willing to work with you to explain it, my guess is most of us cannot.

I bring all of this up in the wake of Stacey Dash’s comments about how BET and Black History Month shouldn’t exist. See, Stacey seems to fail to realize that a key concept to integration is not integration for the sake of integration, but integration for the sake of equality. The reason for the existence of things such as the BET and Black History Month relies more on the fact that 1) integration has failed and we actually live in a society more segregated than 40 years ago and 2) that efforts to integrate did not and are not creating equality. People tend to struggle with this idea because they find themselves in the dominant category, meaning they have certain benefits known as privilege. When you are a privileged individual, equality comes to feel like oppression because you have only ever known privilege. That is why ‘soooooo’ many people raised their hands when Jane Elliott asked this question.

I think Jane Elliott’s point says it all. Change Black to any other oppressed group and you get the idea…

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About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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