By Hannah Holder
Blog Content Contributor
As a Caucasian woman, I will never truly understand racism. I have never been in a position where I felt I was being monitored because of my color. I have never been in a position where I felt I was being minimized because of my color. I have never felt oppression simply because of my color. However, I want to help fight against racism and oppression as if I have personally experienced it. I cannot feel what you feel, but I have seen what you have seen, I have heard what you have heard, and there needs to be a change. I understand I will never understand what racism feels like, but that is not the point of this blog. I am here to try to get others to educate themselves about what is going on, and what needs to change.
Is there racial harmony in the United States? No, there is not. Racial harmony in the U.S. does not exist because of the racial hierarchy that continues to be alive. Oppression and discrimination feed off of this racial hierarchy. Slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago; marking the stamp of the beginning of freedom for African-Americans. To put into perspective, “freedom” for African-Americans began only two generations ago. Though, 150 years ago does not seem like that long ago when referring to history, this is a long enough time for things to have changed entirely for people of color, to gain actual freedom just as every other American. But yet, people of color are still facing oppression.
In 2014 we saw a African-American teenager, Michael Brown, shot to death by a 28-year-old Caucasian police officer, Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. It is unclear what really happened on this day; law enforcement said one thing and eye-witnesses said another thing about what they believe took place. This event exposed the Black Lives Matter movement across the nation. People from all over the U.S. gathered to rally and protest, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” To no surprise, their voices were not heard. Many fatal shootings from Caucasian police officers against African-Americans continued across the U.S. We even saw mass-shootings against African-Americans. Dylan Roof, a 21-year-old Caucasian male, murdered nine black Americans in a place of peace and worship, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Many closeted Caucasian supremacists began to become vocal with their racism and many more anti-racist Americans began to fight back against them.
We cannot create racial harmony when we think we are superior over others simply because of the color of our skin. In fact, we must unite because of the differences in the color of our skin. Once we unite, we will be able to learn more about each other, learn more about each other’s cultures, learn more ideas about how we can better ourselves as a nation, better our environment and maybe even better the world. Once we stop fighting the Black Lives Matter movement with a maliciously-opposed White Lives Matter movement or once we stop becoming upset that Americans are exercising their right to freedom of speech by kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustices against people of color — we can unite. It is our duty as a conscious American society to come together and fight against racism. We believe America is the land of the free, so why is it not for people of color and minorities in general? Remember, racism is taught, not learned. Expand your mind to educate yourself on this issue, open your heart to speak out for those around you, fight against the government to step-up and get involved to make some imperative changes. Our President, Mr. Donald Trump, needs to step-up and declare that we as Americans need to come together, to fight oppression, fight inequality, to create diversity, to unify and come together to celebrate Black History Month.
Black History Month is the time to educate yourself about the history of what African-Americans have gone through, what they continue to go through and how to solve this issue of racism so we can unite and create racial harmony. This action is crucial, it is important and it is necessary. If you would like to check out some ways to educate yourself for Black History Month, here are some powerful videos and articles I find to be moving:
TED Talks – Talks to Celebrate Black History Month
Here is the link to thirteen powerful TED talks from successful business people, activists, authors, professors and many others. These talks provide insight on the injustices and oppression Black-Americans face on a daily basis. Personal stories and experiences are shared in hope to show the audience you can overcome anything you set your mind to, even while being oppressed.
Difference Between Black American and African American Article
This article goes into depth about the difference in terminology when using African-American versus Black-American. Take the time to educate yourself about the history of these terms and the proper use of each term as well. You may find some of today’s “common” terminology as surprisingly incorrect.
Jane Elliot’s Brown Eyes/Blue Eyes Experiment
Jane Elliot is an anti-racist activist and educator that is well-known for many of her experiences revealing racism. She has given not only students insight on what racism actually is, but everyone who has watched her powerful videos. If you want to be moved and perceive racism through a different light, watch here.
Featured image by Melissa Monrroy.