Race at Blake

Civil discourse comes in all sizes and shapes always attached with some amount of emotion, which is completely fine. The bigger issue would be use any privilege you have to ignore and step over the issue.

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Civil discourse comes in all sizes and shapes always attached with some amount of emotion, which is completely fine. The bigger issue would be use any privilege you have to ignore and step over the issue.

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Despite what many white people would like to believe, race is still a prominent influence on America and at Blake. In our lives where overt racism on the individual level is not as visibly present, white students question why they are having “race shoved down their throats” when they can’t see racism. The most common form of racism we see everyday is systemic racism. This means that whites have unearned privileges because of the way the system in America is set up and people of color are at a disadvantage because of the system.  Most whites do not acknowledge this type of racism because they are the benefactors who perpetuate the system. Whites do not want to feel like their achievements are undercut by the privileges they have been given by a system run by whites for whites.

People try to distance themselves from the issues surrounding race by claiming to be colorblind, but this is not helpful because race does have an effect on society even if we wish it wouldn’t. As a white person, I realize it is harder to see racism with dominant identities. When presented with facts illustrating the effects of race on our society it is impossible to combat. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, wrote a series or articles titled What Whites Need to Know About Race. These articles clearly presented hard-hitting facts showing these effects of systemic racism. I would encourage everyone to read them.

As I mentioned earlier, Blake students feel like race is “shoved down their throats.” What does this really mean though? This shows that people with dominant identities are uncomfortable because race is not something they often talk about. This is because they have the privilege to ignore it. There is a need to package the content knowledge we desperately need in different ways so people can learn it. The first step to understanding racism is to understand how it works. When white people can accept that racism works on an individual and systemic level, then we can begin to make more progress. White people specifically need to learn to recognize racism. Krisof presents problems in our society and supports his claim that race matters with relevant facts about how the “wealth gap in America right now is larger between whites and blacks than at the height of Apartheid in south Africa.” Also, 1 in 3 black men who did not finish high school will be imprisoned at some time in their lives. These statistics show a blatant flaw in our system that many people refuse to see. Our school needs to do a better job of building facts into our discussions on race because these facts show that there is no to avoid the problem. Racism cannot be a debate. It is real and the white student body cannot continue to distance themselves from the issue on an individual level.

If we want to change this on a national level, we need to start on a smaller scale at Blake. The first step away from ignorance and toward racial equality is to understand the divide and the white privilege at our school.