Systemic Racism (understanding it and where it came from)

Systemic racism by definition is a form of racism that is embedded as a normal practice within a society or organisation. Systemic racism (also known as institutional racism) is a global problem, which needs to be dealt with on a global scale. As a result , systemic racism isn’t something that is easily fixed. It is often engraved in peoples thought patterns from a young age and is passed on through generations, so when a person grows up believing in the division of the races it is often quite difficult to convince them otherwise. Even people who do believe in unity can sometimes have a closed mindset on the topic and here’s why.

Photo from: @claybanks on unsplash

It is a common misconception that racism started with a misunderstanding. That black and white people met and because they didn’t look the exact same they considered each other abnormal and acted under the falsehood that they were not the same species. And most people believe some variation of that story.

The problem with this is not only that it is false but also that it gives people an excuse to sit on their hands. Some white people look at that story and think because it was a misunderstanding, racism is a black person problem to solve.

This is true for a proportion of the world population; that they aren’t necessarily “racist” they just don’t believe its their problem to deal with. But the truth is, it is very much a white person problem, more so than a black person problem. To fully understand why that is and what us white people can do, we first need to understand where these unethical beliefs came from.

“The opposite of racist isn’t non-racist, it’s anti-racist.”

Ibram X. Kendi

Dr Ibram Kendi, one of the leading scholars in racism and author of the New York Times bestselling book “How to be an Anti-Racist”, has found what he believes to be the start of systemic racism. He believes that racism was first dominant around the 1450’s when slave traders tied to the Portuguese crown used racism as a way of justifying a poor decision. These particular slave traders were the first to travel to sub Saharan Africa. Upon their arrival they promptly enslaved groups of African people, and to justify what they had done, to themselves, and the world they lied. They claimed that the Africans were unintelligent and inferior. Therefore making it “ok” to strip them of basic human rights.

Photo from: Nathan Dumlao on unsplash

John Biewen a friend of Dr Ibram Kendi, journalist and documentarian gave a speech on the issue. He said that the whole idea of “blackness” and “whiteness” began then and there, and that it didn’t take long for other European countries to follow in their footsteps and adopt these unethical and racist ideas. He then went on to tell us that there is no such thing as “blackness” and “whiteness” that racism is a mental block. A mindset that is based off of a lie.

“Denial is the heartbeat of racism.”

Ibram X. Kendi

Dr Biewen also states that racism is a white person problem. It began with a lie, a lie that a white person told in order to justify a poor decision. To supposedly “right a wrong”. He then goes on to tell us we need not to feel guilty about the wrongs of our ancestors but to take on a sense of responsibility. Which I agree with entirely. Our history as the human race is not pretty, it is full of violence, irrationality, lies and hurt. However we must not only reconcile these past mistakes with the descendants of the victims but with ourselves as well. We no longer live in the 1450’s, the times have changed, so have the people, so should the thinking. This isn’t only meant to mean being racist or homophobic or sociopathic etc it is also about how we view solutions. If the people have changed the problems and solutions will change with us.

Photo from: Nathan Dumlao on unsplash

Dr Kendi spoke of the current causes of racism in his interview with The Undefeated. He talks about where racism comes from now. He tells us that these days racism is not out of hate or ignorance but more so out of self – interest. Dr Kendi claims that “education, love and exemplary black people won’t solve racism”.

I would also like to mention that culture is built from us, the people. Therefore collectively we can rebuild culture. And redefine “normal”.

White people need to understand that racism is as much their problem as it is a Black persons problem. People need to understand that there is no such thing as “blackness” and “whiteness” that racism is a mental block, and to fix racism we need to make a mindset switch.

Thank you for reading this post. It is incredibly important to me that these messages are heard and I am thrilled to have been able to pass this one on to you. If you would like to read more on major world problems and what we can do about them be sure to follow this blog. Anyways thanks for reading have an amazing day.

For anyone interested in John Biewen’s TED talk I’ve linked it here.

Published by Sophie

My name’s Sophie, and I am an aspiring humanitarian lawyer and an academia junkie! I have a particular interest in human rights, psychology and self-development. I hope you enjoy your time here!

2 thoughts on “Systemic Racism (understanding it and where it came from)

    1. Thank you so much! This made my day! I’m so glad you were able to gain something from my post! Thank you so much for stopping by! Have a wonderful day! ❤️

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