Politics, Moderate

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Politics

It's high time we all learned to be anti-racists

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- A recent Pew Research Center survey on perceived discrimination in America seems to confirm what some already believe is gospel: There is a disturbing and gaping divide between Republicans and Democrats on race.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents agreed that there is "a lot/some" discrimination against blacks and "little/no" discrimination against whites, while only 23% of Republicans felt this way.

In fact, 16% of people who identified as Republican or Republican-leaning said that whites experience "a lot" of discrimination, and another 39% felt they experience "some."

Sigh. And, also, ugh!

The survey results are depressing, but unsurprising. Some of those white Republicans who feel discriminated against are out and proud. You see them coming in their red "Make America Great Again" hats, driving with confederate flags on their pickup trucks and posting signs on their lawns that say "We don't call 9-1-1" along with the image of a handgun.

They're the easy ones to avoid.

 

Meanwhile, 20% of those who are Democrats or lean Democratic believe there is "a lot/some" discrimination against white people. That's, frankly, way too many.

And it's clear that some of the self-identified white progressives and liberals who wear "Black Lives Matter" or "Build Bridges, Not Walls" T-shirts are actually somewhat clueless about black and brown people -- unwittingly perpetuating racism against the very people they claim to defend. Robin DiAngelo, a white social-justice professor at Washington University, penned her book, "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism," specifically for white progressives who believe they are allies to people of color.

"I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color," she writes. "I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the 'choir,' or already 'gets it.' White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building and actual antiracist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so."

Any Latinx person who has ever had a self-identified progressive ask them if they grew up in a barrio surrounded by gangs understands DiAngelo's point. As does any black person who has been asked by a white person, with grave concern, if it's acceptable to eat fried chicken or watermelon in their presence.

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