Is racism on the upswing?
A very thoughtful and honest answer to this question is “yes”. Of course it is, and many of the people that I share conversation with, will privately acknowledge and admit that racism has been on an upswing for quite some time. We must start with the premise that racism is not new. And, it is real. Racism negatively affect the lives of real people in their everyday lives. It negatively affects real people in their homes, in their places of employment, in places where they enjoy their qualities of life, in various organizations and venues and in places where they practice their religion. In short, racism is everywhere. Race is a very difficult subject to discuss in private and/or public conversations. When the word race is mentioned, it appears an antenna is raised within us and emotions and tensions comes front and center. When this happens, it becomes extremely difficult, and almost impossible, to have a truthful, honest and civil conversation about it. One of the difficulties we constantly experience is defining the term “racism.” Because it is such a sensitive and emotionally-charged word, too many people are very uncomfortable talking about it. In fact, it seems they are willing to create and develop their own definition of racism based on their exposures and life experiences. My research defines racism as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s race is superior”. Additional research defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”. The above definition is more widely accepted universally and certainly overwhelmingly accepted in academic circles. In these very important and serious conversations and discussions we must use a definition that is acceptable to all involved parties. By using this model, it is the best probable way to have a qualitative and substantive dialogue to positively address this cancer in our community and in our society . Yes, racism is on an upswing and our answer to it is, first, we must recognize it and call it out by it’s name. This is especially true if we are serious about addressing it. Secondly, we must nacknowledge it. Too many of us are still in denial. And, thirdly, we must commit ourselves to start sharing in discussions and conversations about “race” with our neighbors, as well as new and different persons in our communities. We can do this and we should do this. We can put a stop to this upswing in “racism.” Now, Let’s go forward and put forth an effort. (Lumus Byrd Jr. is a retired businessman and lives in Clinton.)