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Jona Olsson's important essay on "Detour-Spotting" and the methods that America is using, purposely or subconsciously, to either divert any discussion of racism to some other topic or to avoid the concept completely, is a challenge, is a concern, is a difficult view on all of these points. It began with my post - Killing Police Officers following the Dallas massacre of five local law enforcement agents on July 8, which opened a bit of a discussion about the issues of race in America.

As I always note on thinkposts, they are thoughts. And other thoughts are welcome. And the discussion that needs to happen has to start somewhere. These are not "lectures" where nothing gets questioned. We need to talk through any confusion or any differences in how we see the circumstances in order to come to some kind of understanding, and clearly, understanding is a major missing piece in this very difficult puzzle. Point being, I don't mean to assume anything. But I hope that if you aren't responding, it's not from some hesitation to speak directly to any of these issues, or to me.

It's time for today's topic:

9) We Have Overcome

“We dealt with racism in the 60’s with all the marches, sit-ins and speeches by Dr. King. Laws have been changed. Segregation and lynching are ended. We have some details to work out but real racism is pretty much a thing of the past.”

Reality Check and Consequence

The absence of legalized, enforced segregation does not equal the end of racism. This denial of contemporary racism, based on inaccurate assessment of both history and current society, romanticizes the past and diminishes today’s reality.

We just have to look at the volcanic rise of racist hate groups during the campaign and since the election of President Barack Obama, to know racism is alive and well in the United States.

As always, perspective is a part of the problem when we discuss anything to do with racism, and that will always come back to "White Privilege" and the assumption on the part of white people that "White Privilege" simply does not exist.

I feel like if we can get past the concept of "White Privilege," we might actually be able to begin talking about racism. Unfortunately, it's a really difficult point to make, primarily because the people who need to see it are the ones who are sitting in a blind spot about it.

Tim Wise is another anti-racist activist I have previously referenced. It's funny to discuss Tim because more than a few black people have stated that he is using racism as a method of simply making himself a good payday, as his speaking fees on the topic of race are pretty great: it's been said he earns $10,000 per appearance - making those critics believe that he is yet another white person who is simply profiting from racism.

I can totally understand that viewpoint, even as I don't agree with it. Of course, I wrote an essay equating racism as an addiction, and it does parallel those issues. I bring that thinkpost up again now because within that essay, I briefly touch on the point that:

when it comes to addiction, an addict will not listen to the people who are being abused as a reason/motivation to stop.

which is why Tim Wise is so needed in this discussion. We have seen how the #BlackLivesMatter group has been diminished, equated with white hate groups as if it was the black response version of the Ku Klux Klan, and generally either criminalized, harshly criticized or ignored at large by many white people.

Sometimes it takes a person of the same race to point out the problems of racism to those that don't understand. So, to me, people like Wise, Jane Elliott who created her now famous "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" experiment for her grade school class shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has been teaching it yearly, worldwide, ever since, and Ms. Olsson are important, useful and needed in the struggle to put an end to racism.

To come back to today's point, of course racism still exists. There are still people who not only believe that black people are "inferior" to white people, they take action: they ridicule, they abuse, they may even torture and kill.

This is why the outcry over white police officers who kill unarmed black citizens is so important. It's not just about those singular events where

Freddie Gray

Michael Brown

Tamir Rice

Eric Garner

and literally hundreds of others who have been killed at the hands of the people sworn to protect the public.

No. It's much more than that.

See, with every acquittal that happens in cases like these, two messages are sent. The first message goes out to police officers and says: if you do something like this in the course of your patrol, you will be protected. A message like that means that police never have to think twice before using deadly force. They know that they will be exonerated at the end of whatever semblance of a court case is created, which also means they are more likely to just go ahead and kill rather than use some logic and common sense and obey the proper protocols they have been taught when dealing with suspects. And, at least in the case of Darren Wilson, the cop that shot and killed Michael Brown, he made a tremendous profit from it, getting money raised for his trial to the amount of nearly half a million dollars.

The second message goes to everyone and it basically says that black people are not equal in the eyes of the law to white people. That's a message that pervades everyone's thoughts and minds and instills feelings of fear and self-loathing within the black community, but also creates a lack of concern and a sense of justification over any action against black people by white observers. Hatred is perpetuated, justice is ignored and Status Quo rules the day.

All of this goes to help bolster the causes of racism and creates an atmosphere where some desperate people begin to think that a logical choice would be to start killing random police officers. You can see how more innocent people are dying at the hands of racist attitudes.

The only way to "overcome" is to finally have this long delayed discussion about race in America. In this discussion I do focus more on black people, not only because of my personal history, but because it is the longest and most hateful element of racism throughout this country's history. Some could argue that Native Americans received bad treatment as well, and indeed we can certainly point out many instances where that was the case. But the issues of slavery and Jim Crow, which took up about four-hundred years of our collective American experience, cannot be ignored.

Again, we aren't talking about slavery or Jim Crow Laws for that matter, to lay blame on currently living white people. But we have to talk about them to put them in context with racist thoughts and actions of today, as they are the groundwork that set the stage for everything that has followed.

We are still hoping to overcome.

Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME

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