Letter: Race in the 21st Century
While I was changing at a Darien gym the other day, I overheard a news clip on cable TV that profoundly offended my sense of moral decency.
In the exchange I observed, a news anchor asked the editor of Buzzfeed why affirmative action policies meant to diversify Buzzfeed’s staff are not examples of “textbook racism,” arguing such policies are racist against whites.
This anchor was not challenged with a historically grounded critique, so I feel it is my duty to speak out. His rhetoric has no place in our community.
Affirmative action is fundamentally different from racism because we live in a white supremacist society. Period. End of story.
Many associate the term “white supremacist” with self-proclaimed hate groups like the neo-Nazis and are uncomfortable labeling American society as white supremacist. Such discomfort is unproductive, as it undermines our ability to understand our contemporary society.
White supremacy has been in America’s DNA ever since colonial times, when we founded a nation on the racist economic institution of slavery. It is codified in everything from the Constitution to the physical boundaries of our states.
Neither the end of slavery nor the civil rights movement did away with the essential characteristics that make our society “white supremacist.” We still struggle with state-sanctioned violence, voter suppression, vilification of black activism, and much more.
Anyone who does not accept the objective reality of white supremacy in America today will never understand why affirmative action is not “reverse racism.” Reverse racism, like color blindness, is a myth that renders the inherent power dynamics of a white supremacist society illegible.
Furthermore, anyone who denies the objective reality of white supremacy in America actively perpetuates white supremacy in a way that enables lethal violence against black and brown bodies.
People of color are judged by the color of their skin on a daily basis: as outsiders, as threats, as unintelligent, as under-qualified. Affirmative action is not about judging white people by the color of their skin. It is about trying to ameliorate the condition whereby people of color have been continuously and actively oppressed throughout the 400 years of this country’s history.
In a town such as Darien, where brown folks weren’t welcome to buy property until the last 50 years, and where so much wealth and power is concentrated in overwhelmingly white hands, it is imperative that we are self-aware of our privilege and how we discuss matters of race.
If we defend the status quo of white supremacy, white supremacy will persist.
If we boldly search for new ways of being, maybe our black and brown brothers and sisters will stop dying horrific deaths years before their time.
Make the right call; drink responsibly
Football fans rejoice! With Super Bowl Sunday coming up, it’s a time to get together, root for your favorite team, and crack open a cold one with your friends and family.
While you’ve probably planned who’s bringing food and drinks, don’t forget about the most important part of your game plan — a safe ride home. Whether you’re the avid football fan closely watching every play or just enjoying the commercials, everyone needs to do his or her part to keep our roads safe.
That’s why we’re joining Anheuser-Busch and asking everyone to “Make the right call” and plan ahead to get home safe no matter the outcome of the game. You can find a designated driver, use public transportation or hail a taxi or ride-sharing service, but whatever you choose for your playbook, be sure to plan ahead.
Over the past 30 years, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesaler partners have invested more than $1 billion in the United States to promote alcohol responsibility and reduce drunk driving.
No matter which side you’re supporting, we all need to be on the same team when it comes to keeping our roads safe. This Super Bowl Sunday — and every day — play your part: Make the right call; drink responsibly