These past few weeks have been weighing so heavily on my heart. I’ve been struggling to figure out if I should speak up on my platforms where I have a small influence. What held me back is the fear of backlash. What hurtful comments could come my way due to my lack of understanding. However, I felt that it was not a reason to stay quiet. I wanted to share what I have learned so far through the BLM human rights movement.
Black Lives Matter
With a knot in my stomach, I have been googling “George Floyd”, “Breonna Taylor”, and “Ahmaud Arbery”. I wanted to know their story, these lives lost due to racially motivated violence. As a Korean-Canadian, I do not understand the depth of the racial oppression that Black people have been facing for centuries. However, I acknowledge that this, again, is not a reason to be silent. Ignorance is not bliss. My lack of action only exacerbates the broken system. It is an issue even in Canada.
Sadly, I am learning terms like “white privilege” and “structural racism” for the first time. My desire is a deeper understanding of the situation. I want to understand when people declare, “Black Lives Matter” in anguish.
I am still learning and I understand that the gravity of the situation goes beyond personal/individual forms of racism. Our Black brothers and sister are at the forefront of this racial battle, especially in the US. I believe that it goes beyond the inequality that Black people are facing. It is about the racism that is sewn into our society and how it affects all races.
This systemic racism in our society is so prevalent. It is hard to believe that our world has become more accepting of people of color. Our Black brothers and sisters are still targets and victims of aggression, violence, oppression due to their skin color; just as they were in the past. We are just seeing it more because of the development of technology.
Here are some basics of what I have learned through the BLM human rights movement that helped me understand just the surface of what is happening.
What is structural racism?
“Structural racism is a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It is primarily characterized by white supremacy (the preferential treatment, privilege, power, access, and opportunities for white people) at the expense of cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color.”
“Structural racism encompasses the entire system of white supremacy, diffused, and infused in all aspects of society, including our laws, history, culture, politics, economics, and our entire social fabric. It is the most profound and pervasive form of racism. All other forms of racism (individual, interpersonal, internalized, etc) emerge from structural racism (Lawrence and Keheler, 2018)” – Source @theconsciouskid
What is individual racism?
“Individual racism refers to an individual’s racist assumptions, beliefs, or behaviors and is “a form of racial discrimination that stems from conscious and unconscious, personal prejudice” (Henry and Tator, 2006). This includes examples such as telling a racist joke, believing in the inherent superiority of white people over other racial groups, or not hiring a person of color because “something doesn’t feel right”. It is connected to and learned from broader socioeconomic histories and processes and is supported and reinforced by structural racism.” – Source @theconsciouskid
Understanding structural racism is important to the BLM human rights movement, it explains (but not justifies) the actions of individuals. It is due to the history of power and privilege that structural racism built over centuries that has created the oppression of people of color. My lack of action against this kind of system only reinforces racial violence, aggression, and oppression.
What is White Privilege?
My husband is of mixed race but physically looks white. Our beautiful daughter also physically appears white. So naturally, the term “white privilege” was something that stuck out to me.
Understanding white privilege
- “White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder. There’s plenty of other privileges (socioeconomic, male, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, able-bodied) but white privilege is perhaps the most enduring throughout history”.
- “White privilege exists as a direct result of both historic and enduring racism, biases, and practices designed to oppress people of color.”
- “White privilege means you actively benefit from the oppression of people of color. Meaning that you are the dominant representation on all media. You don’t get harassed for existing in public locations. Inherited power and wealth, your actions aren’t perceived as those of all your race, products are designed for you first.”
- “Systemic racism (structural racism) exists at every level of society.” (The wealth gap is 90% white-owned and 10% person of color owned. Black Americans are 30% more likely to get pulled over, makeup to 40% of the prison population. Black students are 30% more likely to be suspended and graduates are 2x more likely to be unemployed, and more.
- “What should I do with my white privilege? Teach other white people the barriers to success for people of color. Promise to listen to and amplify the voices of people of color. Be more than “not racist” but actively anti-racist, and finally confront racial injustices even when it is uncomfortable.” – Source @courtneyahndesign
What does this mean for me and my family?
It is not about your race particularly but the color of your skin which people use to assume your race and value. So, how can I raise my children to be conscious of their privilege and where it comes from? How can I parent so they speak out and take action against injustices of those oppressed by their privilege?
Raising my children (the next generation) to know and to take action against racism is something I can do to help continue the work of change in a broken system. As an adult, I will continue to educate myself so I can identify and take action against racial injustice. I will be praying and learning. I will continue uncomfortable conversations.
This really helped me understand the struggle of our Black brothers and sisters. I learned through the BLM movement how one-sided I was, as I always try to see things from both sides.
Simple things you can do
I’ve learned there are simple things you can do to support the Black community during this time.
- Educate yourself – take a moment to get a better understanding of the situation. There are a lot of movies, documentaries, and books that provide a deeper insight.
- Open up your scope of influence – follow people of different races and cultures and learn from them, grow with them, support them.
- As a parent, start the discussion of race and racism with your children early. Read them books with racially diverse characters.
- Try not to respond defensively when people of color correct (or go off on) you but take it as an invitation to learn and do better. They are coming from a lifetime of oppression, hurt, and silencing. – Source @glographics
Structural racism is hard to explain and not always easy to see, especially if you’re benefiting from it but the more you know and continue to learn the better can you respond and act.
Please be gracious and understand that I am still learning and finding my role and what I can do during this time. If I have shared incorrect information or something offensive, I sincerely apologize. Please let me know so I may rectify my error. The statistics and information provided from the sources I have cited are true to the best of my knowledge.