Is Racism Really Dead?

by Vanessa Douglas on May 10, 2012

The answer, unfortunately, is no. With events such as the aftermath of September 11th, Don Imus’s comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, and the controversy regarding the cast of “The Hunger Games”,  discrimination still rears its head in today’s world. What is even more worrisome is that the way in which individuals are discriminating against each other is not necessarily overt. Subtle racism and prejudice make it easy for one to deny discrimination.  Racism, however, whether subtle or obvious, still classifies as racism.

A perfect example of this is the unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin. According to the LA Times, Robert Zimmerman, the father of George Zimmerman, Trayvon’s killer, claimed that race was not a factor in Trayvon’s death. “George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends,” Zimmerman’s father stated, and added his son had no motivation to discriminate.

This is problematic for many reasons. Firstly, Zimmerman also described Trayvon as “suspicious”, yet Martin was unarmed and was not a threat. Additionally, by saying that his son is a minority, he is conflating Zimmerman’s supposed marginalized status with complete understanding and sensitivity to racial and ethnic issues. Being non-white does not mean that one is automatically not racist. Making assumptions about a person because of their race, ethnicity, or what they look like is discrimination.

“A Complete Guide to ‘Hipster Racism’” is a humorous and insightful article about how racism tends appears in society and how it is overlooked, usually because of its subdued nature. The actions and phrases outlined in the piece are commonly seen in our everyday lives, yet we fail to see that saying or thinking something that seems innocuous may actually hint at underlying matters that still exist in contemporary times.

As citizens of the 21st century, we like to paint ourselves as forward thinking, modern individuals. The truth is that history repeats itself, and this is especially true in regard to matters of prejudice and discrimination. People have fought for equality, understanding, and respect. In actuality, achieving such standards is a constant battle. It may seem obvious that being treated as a equal should be a right, but this is not always reality.

Every individual should have the responsibility to realize that, on a fundamental level, we are all human beings. What we think and what be believe are not set in stone. Rather, the way in which we interpret and understand things is malleable, and in order to truly establish a “post-racial” society, we need to learn how to address issues of prejudice, understand why they are issues, how we formulate such prejudice, and be active in combating those formulations. Again, such proclamations seem obvious, but they are easier said than done. It is much easier to believe in what is ingrained in our minds and our metaphorical guts than to accept that what we might think is true, and what we have always thought is true, is actually false and needs to be revised.

No individual is perfect. We all have our preconceived notions about one another and judging others is inevitable. What we can do, in order to be conscious, thoughtful individuals, is catch ourselves when we are discriminating and judging others. Questioning and criticizing our own thoughts and beliefs is a small, but effective step in seeing everyone on a equal plane, rather than simply judging people’s worth based on normative notions.

Vanessa Douglas

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rembrandt June 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

If you folks would do your job, as good journalists do, you would have gotten a current picture of Travon Martin. The one you have is 5 years old and is intentionally meant to deceive people. In real life he is a mean looking, tattooed, ghetto thug and drug dealer.

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