Your Opinion: Does Racism Still Exist? How do you see it?

I recently attended an “Understanding Racism” workshop and will be posting some related material soon.  With the sensitivity of the subject, I want to make sure I have my thoughts in order before posting.  In the meantime, (be brave…) please share your opinion in the comment section (not on Facebook for this one).  I’d like to get an idea of the pulse of some readers.  Here are some ground rules and some potential questions to respond to:

  • Feel free to post anonymously if you’d like
  • If your post is intentionally offensive, it will be immediately deleted
  • Please post your race and/or ethnicity
  • Q: Do you think racism is an issue in America today?  If no, when do you think it “ended”?
  • Q: What did you learn in school about racism in your history classes?
  • Q: How do you respond if you hear racism being brought up in the Church? (as an issue the Church needs to actively fight against)
  • Q: Do you think there is such a thing as “white privilege”?
  • Q: What does “racial reconciliation” mean / look like to you?  Does it still need to happen or has it already happened?
  • Q: Can you give examples of how you’ve been negatively affected by racism?
  • Q: Are there any ways you contribute or have contributed to racism?
  • Q: Are there ways you have benefited from racism?
  • Q: Are there differences between personal racism and societal/systemic racism?
  • Feel free to give thoughts on any other similar types of themes

You don’t need to try to answer them all, just want to set the table with some things to get your thoughts churning.  Please give a reply in the Disqus comments below, even if it’s brief, as I’d love to hear what you think.  And again, please post anonymously if you feel uncomfortable about the subject.


Related Posts by Noah:

13 responses to Your Opinion: Does Racism Still Exist? How do you see it?

  1. Racism definitely still exists. As a Caucasian woman, yes, I have white privilege. Absolutely.
    There is a huge difference between personal racism and societal/systemic racism. Personal racism would mean someone thinking less of someone/treating them with prejudice because of their race. Societal and systemic racism is a much bigger entity (which obviously originated long ago with personal racism). Societal racism to me looks like the city I live across the street from — in the one high school in this city that a couple of years ago was named the most dangerous in the country, 0% of African Americans achieve proficiency in math. Two percent of Latino students do. That’s systemic racism, and it’s so hard for those kids to break out of that cycle that includes a bad education and much gang presence and violence.
    I’m interested to hear others’ thoughts…
    – Cara

    • Cara, do you feel that the school you mentioned targets African Americans and Latinos? Or is the whole school a disaster?

      • Sorry, I tried replying to this a few days ago — typed a whole long thing and then my phone opted not to post it I guess.

        I think the whole school is a disaster based on the most recent stats from state testing and such — I looked it up and the entire school only has a proficiency rate of 5% in math. However, it is also important to know that 82% of the student body is Latino, 7% is African-American, and 2% is white. Eighty-six percent of the student body are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and 65% are English learners.

        So those previous stats I gave of proficiency rates of Latinos and African Americans — that is almost the entire school.

        If you’ve ever seen the movie Coach Carter, that is the true story of a basketball coach at that high school. He tried to emphasize academics and got huge pushback because parents and teachers and administrators and kids felt that their only hope of escape was through sports. It’s a total systemic thing — how hard would it be to come out of a school with a 5% proficiency rate in math and believe that you were capable of going to college or getting a good job.

        One thing we are really passionate about is sending our daughter to our local public school — it is safe, so that’s not an issue. If it weren’t, it would be a discussion for us to have. But academically it hasn’t done well in the past — they’re working hard to improve, but it has been slow going. But we feel like what happens is parents who are educated and care often choose to send their kids to other schools, and that leaves a bunch of kids who don’t have a choice in a lousy school. We aren’t okay with that.

        ~ Cara

        • Cara, you bring up a great topic about urban schools. The value of raising our children in diverse settings, as well as how the schools keep getting worse because educated parents who help their kids with their education are the ones fleeing these schools, when these are the people who could help revive these schools (and thus our cities as well). Such a tough topic that definitely relates to racism, yet is a whole other ball of wax. My wife and I are wrestling with these same issues as we discuss our 1 1/2 year old’s future schooling and I live in and my heart is so for the city. Yet it’s tough on my wife who’s a music teacher as Lansing schools just cut their music programs, etc. It’s a very multi-faceted issue for us and a point of conflict if we don’t handle those conversations with grace. In general, it is a VERY hot button issue and one I’m not entirely sure how to approach as a pastor with a congregation that is diverse as far as suburban and urban goes

          • A friend of ours taught dual immersion Spanish in Oakland and said she wouldn’t send her own son to that school.
            It’s hard, because to want to effect change which is easiest to do from the inside – but you don’t want to sacrifice your kids in the meantime.
            Our local middle school has a bad reputation – enough so that parents who can afford to do so put there kids in a Catholic school for middle school and then go back to public for high school. I get it, I really do – I wouldn’t want my child in a violent school with drugs and everything else it is rumored to have. But it perpetuates the cycle, and parents who stay are crying out on local news sites and blogs saying “the reputation ie unearned! We are working hard, and it has changed!”. But th ideas people have held for years are hard to get rid of.

  2. Absolutely it exists. If you are white, you may not realize it because white is the “norm” for our society. White privilege is something we live in every day, so we don’t recognize it and maybe don’t think racism exists.

    I’m a white male, but I’ll tell you what wakes me up from my “white is normal” kind of slumber and helps me to recognize it, that my youngest adopted sons are black. And one day I realized that in a dozen or so years, they are going to be teenagers. In my predominantly white community right now they are cute and adorable and everyone oohs and aahs over them. But when they are teenagers, dark skinned males face the most prejudice. When you see a black teenage male hanging out in a predominantly white neighborhood, what do you think about him? Do you look at him with more distrust than a white kid who looks like he “belongs” there?

    Check THIS out:

    In 12 years, one of them will be this same age:
    What happens when he is playing with his friends and mom and dad’s “white privilege” is not around? You can’t tell me a white kid gets the same treatment.

    Or just read the comments here:

    • “a black male walking though a white neighborhood at night will get the cops called on him while a white male in a black neighborhood at night will get jumped” That was the comment that really stuck out to me during a discussion on racism I had with a group of guys I play basketball with a couple days ago. Now obviously he was being semi-sarcastic but unfortunately there are a lot of communities where this is true. However, there are also a lot of communities where they accept everyone, even if 95% of the city is of one race so hopefully your kids are able to grow up in one of these areas where they can live without prejudice.

    • thanks for all the links Jeff; those are helpful. I referenced the Cheerios link in my post from today and plan to use the racial profiling one later.

  3. John Andersen June 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    It certainly exists but sometimes I think it can become a smokescreen for deeper underlying issues. I also believe the practical impact can vary tremendously based on geography and socioeconomic class. I grew up with a pretty diverse group of folks in terms of ethnicity and we could care less about skin color (though a tan was still a plus) but there’s no question that some were “less desirable” based on numerous factors other than skin color. Sometimes I see the worst class-ism arising from those who have managed to “escape” from one class to the next – the attitude of “If I can do it there’s no reason you can’t do it”. You’ll find similar attitudes among those who have broken certain types of addictions.

    The poor and downtrodden come in all colors and when society’s rescue attempts focus on race rather than root issues it serves to perpetuate the racial divides. As the song goes “…red and yellow, black and white – they’re all precious in His sight”. That also goes for Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Samaritans, tax collectors, etc.

  4. Absolutely, racism still exist. Jim Crow laws are in very recent past for America. I have been and I know others who have been explicitly discriminated against on a basis of race.

    However, being an African American female from urban NYC, I have in many ways benefited from former racist agenda, via Affirmative Action. In some instances, I have been preferred over others with similar qualifications for various positions because I add diversity. As I am in pursuit of a profession in higher education, I would imagine that I may have a slight advantage over equally qualified, non-white counterparts. I will take the favor for what it is worth, but I think this is a testament to a different form of racism, because it still proves that we “see color.”

    • You will definitely have an advantage in that profession. My husband deals with that in academia as well as a Filippino. He doesn’t like that the color of his skin is an issue and st the same time, he has gotten funding and grants because of it that have allowed us to survive during his schooling, and he is well aware of the advantage as he nears the hiring process.

  5. Thanks for all of the great comments everyone. I’m not going to reply to them individually at this point as I plan on hitting on many of the themes you brought up as I write on this topic in the days ahead and I’m trying to go at this in bite sized chunks. I hope you stay engaged throughout as I know your comments and feedback will be very helpful, thank you!

  6. Katrina Strickland July 13, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Yes it still exist, and sad to say it may never stop. As long as there are people wiling to show, give, and teach hate it will always be here. With the use of modern technology racism can spread anonymously at any giving time. With every generation born someone is taught hate.I am an African American and I have two biracial daughters, my oldest is 16 and she has received it on both ends. Attending schools with mostly black children she is called white girl; at a school she attended with majority white she was outcast for being biracial. It is sad that children so young even feel the need to focus on something like that and that to me is taught, learned, seen as acceptable,I feel it will not end until racism is no longer truly tolerated.

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