Recollections of a racial past in a racist present – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Recollections of a racial past in a racist present
7 December 2020
NB: I have used racially derogatory terms throughout this piece in an uncensored fashion in order to paint a picture of racism for those who have never felt its tongue and temper, and to better critique and convey their vitriol.
I need you to understand two things when you read this note. First, this is probably going to hurt you. Not as much as it hurt me and the uncounted others who continue to experience a similar existence under the yoke of routine and random racist oppression, but nonetheless those of you willing to listen and hear and disassemble your fear will face multiple emotional cuts and bruises. You built an Empire based on domination of black by white. What you are facing now is the whiplash of time. But believe me, we of colour faced the ‘lash in many different forms.
Racism isn’t a thing of the past. The past resides in the present. Racism is normal, routine, alive, constant, present, always ugly whether subtle or brutal. It was encouraging today to read the statement from Universities UK acknowledging the omnipresence of racial harassment. It was painful that only racial harassment was acknowledged, as if somehow there was only harassment, rather than repudiation, hatred, loathing, disgust, denial, discrimination, punching, kicking, enslaving, exclusion and so many other shades of violence. Black people say it still affects them daily, white people and institutions deny it, as they did the first times around. The past is alive in the present.
Copyright Dr. David Roberts 2020
I use imagery to convey complex meaning more clearly using the brain’s natural visual processing capacity when I teach. I created this to convey how the past can exist in the present: the old photograph matching with the modern setting.
The second thing you must recognize, acknowledge and understand is that racism is structural. There is no such thing as a ‘one-off’ or ‘isolated’ racial ‘incident’ like harassment. Individual racist acts of all kinds come from wider beliefs fed by Fascist, racist ideologies that prevail without necessarily always appearing to do so. They fester in beliefs about white superiority inherited from imperial domination handed down through myths of benign intervention, creating institutions of discrimination underpinned by social and educational curricula of exclusion and denial. If you cannot hear this, if it is not acknowledged, nothing will change – for why would you seek to change something you did not think was broken? Paulo Freire said the only people who can change the actions of the oppressors are the oppressed, because the oppressors do not realize their role in oppressing. I know/hope that isn’t true, but so far, despite oppressed people telling their oppressors what is happening, there has been too little meaningful change where I am.