Most dictionaries define “racism” as racial hatred based on the color of one’s skin.
As Dick Gregory said, “White is not a color; it’s an attitude.” Some add that racism is racial prejudice plus the institutional and systemic power to dominate, exclude, discriminate against, or abuse targeted groups of people based on a designation of race. Racism is an insidious cultural disease.
A Chinese proverb says: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” The use of the term “progress” when addressing racism implies that some congratulatory responses are in order for a “race-relations” job well done and that we live in a “post-racial” society, as some like to say. Perish that thought.
Fifty years after his assassination, Malcolm X’s analysis remains perceptive: “If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.” Half a century on, Malcolm X's quotation still captures America’s attitude toward race, and congratulatory responses are still not in order.
Racist forces in America today would like to revise American history by “prettying up” the repulsive and sordid practices of slavery, denying the historical impact of Jim Crow laws, obscuring the historical impact of segregation and racism, by forgetting the many abhorrent years that followed the end of slavery, and by rewriting and ignoring the obscene violence that was perpetrated on Blacks during the Civil Rights Movement.
Understanding is the first priority.
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Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.