The Day That I Started To Understand Racism

For the first time in my life, I had a sense for what it was like everyday for my black friends. They regularly have to make decisions about whether they will defend their honor and stand up to racism or shrink back again from the threat of violence and its consequences.

For those of us for whom thinking about race is an optional matter, we have to be very careful about touting the advances in racial matters. Things are better than they were even a generation ago. But the realities are still there. I don’t think we can continue to pretend that racism is only “really” racism when someone is starving, being killed, or being enslaved. My friend, Pastor Jon Robinson, said it like this:

Privilege not only causes white people to miss instances of racism but it causes them to think they get to set the terms or parameters for what constitutes racism as well. For example; situations that can universally be understood as racist like a blatant hate crime, are “in bounds.” But anything that’s not as obvious is dismissed and those who attempt to shed light on less obvious forms of racism get accused of race baiting or, my personal favorite, playing the race card. Which essentially means that if it’s not obviously racist to a white person then it’s not racist.

“The frustration and pain of not having my perspective taken seriously or feeling like I have to defend my position all the time, is even more of a problem than living in fear and making the kinds of choices you describe. I spend almost every day feeling like I have to fight to the death to be heard, seen and respected.”


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

9 thoughts on “The Day That I Started To Understand Racism

  1. That was a good article. I wasn’t always aware of the more subtle forms of racism when I was much younger. Good point about how White people set parameters such as obvious racism (the N-word) or covert (dog whistle languages). There were times when I would ask questions why they would say something like that to me, and I was accused of “over-analyzing” because I dared to try to see through the subterfuge back then.

    1. White people are pros at gaslighting us. I no longer respond to their attempts to provoke anger or self doubt. Just remember they know and get pleasure in making us think we’re crazy. Their culture is different. Many need to feel superior in order to be whole or to feel self-love.

      On my phone, the post looks like a reblog with the link missing

      1. That’s right. Confusion is a main tactic and I had to break from it. Wow, that shows I’ve been reading some Neely Fuller Jr. In all seriousness, I would never try to feel superior by bringing others down. At worst, I may try to feel or be right, but even then it’s rare.

        Hmm, that’s weird about what it looks like on your phone.

        1. I’ve been humble most of my life. It may seem like I love the limelight but I’ve always shied away or felt uncomfortable with it. I feel comfortable being the underdog, knowing I can match my wit with anyone.

          1. That’s understandable. I used to like the limelight back when I was active in playing music live more often years ago. I’ve certainly calmed down since then. That’s good by being able to match your wit with anyone. I want to work on that more often.

            1. Some of it is still there, but I’ve been a studio-only musician when it came to my original works. I haven’t performed my own original music in front of a live audience in 7 years. It would be fun to give it a try with my Ospreyshire project with some live instruments and acousmatic loops.

  2. Matching my wit against most includes the ability to listen and learn. Also, admit when in the wrong.

    Privileged people live in a world where the truth is whatever they desire to believe. They are rarely accountable to facts or the truth.

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