The modern day lynching of George Floyd at the hands of four white police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota was a painful reminded that racism is alive, well and flourishing in this country.
Systemic racism is built into every level of this society. It infects the very structure of this society daily and manifests itself in the continuing inequalities in housing, education, employment, criminal justice, wealth and leadership positions. It is real and no matter the ignoring or denying it remains a constant.
Systemic racism is embedded in this city’s past, recognizable in its present and will, in all likelihood, occupy a place in its future. It would be delusional to think otherwise.
It is almost a given that people of color who challenge the system and speak out on words and actions that have a racist intent will be accused of “playing the race card.” It is also a given that the accusers are most likely to be white people who do not have the foggiest idea about what being a person of color in this country is like. It’s like telling someone you know the pain of a toothache if you have never had one. Seldom does the why of an issue perceived to be racist become the channel for constructive dialogue.
Systemic racism is an ingredient found in everyday decisions made by people who may or may not see themselves as racist. Therefore, it behooves those of you who are quick to accuse people of color of playing the race card to take a long hard look in the mirror. How many race cards have you dealt, consciously or unconsciously? A card cannot be played if it has not been dealt.
As the years have come and gone, old stereotypes that feed on systemic racism have continued. In spite of the fact that many major contributions to this country’s greatness have been made by people of color, we are still looked upon as being intellectually deficient. We are still marginalized and acts of violence inflicted upon us are often without consequence. Educational opportunities and access to health care remain disproportionate. Home and business mortgage applications continue to be marked in red as risky investments and criminal justice is still administered with an uneven hand.
Somehow, in some way, these inequities continue to have an unrelenting choke hold on people of color. Will we ever overcome?
Gardenia B. Hobbs
Curmilus Butch Dancy II 2020