Growing up, I always knew racism existed in the world. Racial discrimination was on the news, in my classroom’s, in my city and even at my workplace. I learned that some white people thought they were better than me, because of something so insignificant as my skin color. The racism today wasn’t as anything like it was during the 1940s. During those times black people were captured and hung, we attended segregated schools and weren’t allowed inside restaurants that had signs that read ‘Whites Only’. Today we have interracial marriages, black models and Science Fiction authors, and a black President that was in office for eight years. In 2018, Black America has overcome many adversities, but have we progressed enough that racism no longer exists?
In the nineteenth century, racism was expressed more directly, especially in the workplace. According to Historian Yohuru Williams, the Great Migration of 1910 and 1970,brought as many as “six million African-American immigrants migrated to the North from the South, in search of better economic opportunities”. Factories in Detroit, experienced a large influx of African-American workers and major transportation companies, such as the Philadelphia Transportation Company, hiring black drivers. As more and more African-American immigrants began moving north and taking over jobs, white workers began to strike. A particular instance of violence broke out at an aircraft manufacture in Detroit where “all 25,000 white workers went on strike in protest to the promotion of three blacks to the aircraft assembly line in June 1943.” Whites in the north made it clear that they did not want blacks in their cities or working within the same trades as them, let alone, get promoted. Though racism was worse in the south, it was still very prevalent in the northern states.
Today’s America has since progressed in major ways, one of which has not permitted for direct, or rather, publicized racism. Instead, discrimination exist in more subtle ways. According to the article Subtle Forms of Prejudice ”since the 1970’s, researchers have studied several interrelated forms of subtle racism . . . though each form of subtle racism has it’s own distinct feature, the results have consistently pointed in the same direction.” I find this statement disturbingly true. Many white people that I’ve encountered claim that that racism doesn’t exist or that they don’t see color, but in the same instance will make a discriminatory comment in the most discreet of situations. This way, they are exempt from the responsibility of owning up to their true feelings about black people.
One personal instance that comes to mind, was the time I worked for a production company in Columbus, Ohio. I spent five months there, working on an assembly line with all men. One day, during production time, one of the guy’s decided to tell me about a time his brother brought home his long-time girlfriend, who was black. His exact words were “Everyone liked her, thought she was pretty nice, except my dad . . . I guess he felt some type of way about his son dating a black woman, but we were all fine with it. I’ve never been someone like that, a racist.” I later learned that he told a similar story to one of the other co-workers on the team who was Puerto Rican, saying that he met a Mexican woman in one of his acting classes. When I asked him how he reacted to the statement, he said that he didn’t take it to heart because he knew that this man was oblivious to his own racism. It makes sense that people who haven’t spent enough time learning about another’s race and culture, would make statements that are discriminatory because they don’t know any better. Yet, it’s upsetting to know that some white people, like my former co-worker, lack any common sense of what is appropriate and inappropriate to say about another race.
Has racism, then, really improved since in the 1940’s? One form was more direct than the other, yet they still carry those negative conations about black culture. An Aversive racist is just as bad as a White Supremist, if not more dangerous. Research shows that while there’s been a “decrease in direct Racism and low tolerance for discrimination in countries like the UK, Canada and the US, this has only lead to the increase in subtle racism” (“Aversive Racism Meaning”, par.1). Racism it seems, has morphed and evolved to an underground taboo, fetish, therefore, making it difficult to know just how far we’ve progressed. Even more problematic is that it’s existed for decades, which means it’ll be hard to eradicate.
Though it is difficult to rid of bad habits, it is not impossible. Black America has so many milestones and accomplishments to be proud of, that it wouldn’t be accurate to say we can’t do away with racism. We have activist movement’s, organizations, have performed political marches and spoken at conferences, all of which have the power to change minds and educate those close-minded individuals on black culture. Though research indicates that it is difficult to say just how much racial differences and discrepancies have changed in America, one aspect remains clear; racism will die out.
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