1. WE ARE MORE ALIKE THAN DIFFERENT
As human beings we are all more alike than we are different, regardless of the color of our skin.
2. “RACES” DON’T EXIST
Classifying people by skin color and some minor facial features and calling the categories “races” is an idea that was made up a few hundred years ago. (“Races” do not exist as distinct biological groups with significant genetic differences among them. Skin color is biologically a trivial difference. There is no correlation or genetic link between skin color or facial features and intelligence.) The idea of race, as we know it now, was invented by white people to justify their mistreatment of people of color (especially the enslaving of Africans and the colonizing of many groups) and/or to assert the superiority of white people.
3. STILL … PAY ATTENTION TO “RACE”
Although “race” is an artificial idea that serves to separate people, we need still need to pay attention to “race” because of the ways it continues to be used to advantage white people and to oppress people of color, and to affect the experiences that people tend to have in our society.
4. WE ARE ALL BORN GOOD
All people, including people of color and white people, are born good. As people get mistreated, hurt, isolated, don’t have their needs met, and are taught harmful ideas, they come to behave in ways that are harmful to others. No one is born “racist.
5. CONNECT WITH PEOPLE OF ALL RACES
It makes sense for people of all races to be connected to each other. Life is richer and more interesting if you have friends and acquaintances from many racial backgrounds. We can all become aware that racial differences need not cut us off from other people.
6. BEING COLORBLIND IS NOT THE GOAL
Being “colorblind” is not the goal. It is one of our goals that people not be judged on the basis of their skin color or have stereotyped assumptions made about them. This is different from not noticing, or pretending not to notice, someone’s skin color or “race”. We need to notice skin color and “race” because it can help us understand people’s identities and cultures, and may help us understand something about their experiences. As one African-American woman said, “If you only see that I’m black, you don’t see me. If you don’t see that I’m black, you also don’t see me.”
7. RACISM EXISTS TODAY
Racism still exists today in all parts of the United States and beyond. People of color are disadvantaged, excluded, limited, and mistreated systematically. Most white people have difficulty understanding how pervasive racism is and how horribly hurtful it is to people of color.
8. PERSONAL RACISM
Some racism, both today and in the past, is personal racism – ideas and feelings held in the minds of individuals, and individual behavior. These include feeling superior to another race, stereotyped views of one or more races, fear of people because of their skin color, hatred of a race, etc. Personal racism also includes individual behaviors that mistreat people of color.
9. SYSTEMIC RACISM
Much racism today is systemic racism – the way many advantages in the society are set up systematically, or built into the structure of society or how we do things, to benefit one racial group (white people) and disadvantage others. For example, public schools are financed primarily on property taxes (based on the value of people’s houses) and this results in students in poor urban areas (where many students of color live) going to schools that don’t have as much money to pay teachers, buy books, etc. as the schools that many white students go to. If we financed schools differently, we could provide equally good schools for all students, regardless of their “race”.
10. SELF RESPECT FOR ALL
People of all racial identities deserve to feel pleased with who they are and deserve respect, including self-respect. This is true for African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Whites and all people of mixed heritages.
11. ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE CONDITIONED TO RACISM
Every white person growing up in this society has been trained to feel some superiority, fear, and/or separation from various people of color. These attitudes and the behaviors and lack of awareness that come from them are personal racism. This does not mean that the person is a racist. He or she is still a good human being, but has attitudes and behaviors that they need to take responsibility for changing. This will be necessary for ending racism.
12. SYSTEMIC ADVANTAGES TO WHITES
Every white person is also born into a system that advantages white people and disadvantages people of color in many ways. This is not the fault of any individual white person, but it is important that white people learn about how this occurs in society and work to eliminate this systemic racism.
13. RACISM HURTS WHITE PEOPLE TOO
Despite the advantages that accrue to white people as a result of racism, white people are hurt by racism too. Racism, both personal and systemic, dehumanizes white people and tends to leave them more disconnected from the majority of the world’s population; compromises their integrity; undermines their sense of their own goodness; and leaves them feeling more fear, powerlessness and alienation.
14. INTERNALIZED RACISM
Every person of color growing up in this society has been subjected to attitudes and behaviors that imply that he or she is somehow inferior and deserves disadvantages. To the extent that people of color have inadvertently internalized any of these attitudes about themselves, other members of their own “race” or other people of color, they carry what is called “internalized racism”. In order for racism to end it will be necessary to root out internalized racism as well as the racism carried by white people.
15. RESPONSIBILITY, NOT BLAME
No one is to blame for harmful attitudes that have been instilled in them or for lack of awareness. Everyone is responsible for changing those attitudes, developing awareness, and committing themselves to treating all people with respect. Feeling guilty generally gets in the way of effective action to eliminate racism. It is appropriate to take responsibility for correcting and repairing mistakes, both personal and historical.
16. HEALING FROM RACISM – WHITE PEOPLE
The attitudes, feelings, and false ideas that make up individual racism in white people are connected to experiences that involve painful feelings, vulnerability, and insecurity. Although getting accurate information is important, it is not sufficient for removing racism. Healing from personal racism requires that people be listened to while they talk thoroughly about their experiences that are related to race and racism. They also need to feel and release the emotions that accompanied those experiences, through crying, trembling, raging, laughing, etc. Building relationships with people of different racial backgrounds; learning more about race, racism and the experiences of other groups; and taking action to help end racism, are all important and assist in the process of eliminating personal racism.
17. HEALING FROM RACISM – PEOPLE OF COLOR
Similarly, for people of color experiences of racism and internalized racism have painful emotion connected to them. Healing from those experiences requires that people be listened to extensively while they talk about their experiences and feel and release the emotions connected with them.
18. DEVELOP A COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE
People of all racial backgrounds can be assisted to develop a commitment to social justice and the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed to be effective in carrying out that commitment.
19. TAKE ACTION, EXPECT SOME MISTAKES, CLEAN THEM UP
We all need to be supported and backed to take initiative to address issues of race and racism, even when they make some mistakes in doing so. Mistakes are inevitable. If you aren’t making some mistakes, you probably aren’t taking enough risks. When you make a mistake, clean it up thoroughly.
20. YOUR VIEWS
What are other perspectives and ideas that you have found helpful?
Copyright: Russ Vernon-Jones