Is there a racism-free place?

Often in my work as counselor I come across people who has been subjected to oppression and racism. An argument they often hear when they point out the racism is that "There is no racism here. In this place we don't have racism.". This is of course very ignorant and paradoxical, as the statement in itself is racist because it takes away the agency of the oppressed to express the feeling of being oppressed. It's also gaslighting, making the person doubt the personal experience of the self. As I have researched racism quite extensively during the past years I have come across all sorts of variants on this behavior. One argument when people are trying to reduce racism is that there are no races, that humanity is one race. That is true, but that is not what racism is really about and to claim there are no races is to reduce the ethnic and cultural identity of a person.  Race today is a social and cultural construct based upon the notion that people who share similar features, interests and history tend to assemble and act as groups. For some people the concept of race is a strong part of their identity, so by claiming there is no racism, is also to reduce a persons identity and sense of self. Racism is a sensitive topic that tend to raise strong emotions and at times it may come across as every discussion about racism is racist and leads to arguments about who has the right to define racism. Can I as a white person claim to know anything about racism?  It's almost forbidden for white people to say they have been subjected to racism or claim to know anything about it. In the debate about racism white people are often limited to share slogans that everybody feels a compulsory need to share, to prove they are not racist. Racism is to use a persons appearance as an indicator to oppress them and is not very different from anti-feminism, ageism or oppression against poor people, as it stands for an organized, systematic and structural oppression against people who are seen as less valuable or as a threat. It is important to have enough organizational and personal insight to not claim there is no racism, because it is everywhere in all parts of society.  It is also important to not be afraid to discuss racism. If we don't talk about it, it will continue to grow in silence. 

Comments

  1. I feel you have hit the nail on the head when you said that not seeing race almost makes the problem worse. This is nothing more than a shoddy attempt by many who are not oppressed to just hide the problem!

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    1. Thank you for replying. Yes, turning a blind eye to accidents of birth is to ignore the history and conditions that has shaped a person and in many ways determined the possibilities available. But what do you mean by "ideas, not identity" ?

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