Last week was quite a week…
I wrote a blog about Judge Eidsvik’s comments about “dark people”, commented on the H&M “coolest monkey in the jungle advertising debacle, and then President Trump made disparaging comments about Haiti and African nations in the context of immigration.
If you haven’t seen it you can read it here.
All examples of racism.
Whether he actually said “sh*thole countries” (later statements deny he said this) isn’t really the point. The point is that when you hold up Haiti and African countries as places you’d rather not have immigrants come from, compared to Norway…well. That’s a statement that stands alone, without the swearing. Asking “why do we want people from Haiti here?” further makes the case that this is an example of racism. As are the others. And while this latest on is an individual comment, they all can be traced to systemic racism.
I could write about the fact that a leader of a country could say these things out loud (note that I’m not surprised these are thoughts that a leader could have). Or that there has seemingly been only moderate outrage. Or that there doesn’t seem to have been an apology – just a denial. And I could muse about what might happen if the sh*thole country in question was, say…France. Or Germany. Or Norway….
It’s also fascinating that Trump’s deputy press secretary Raj Shah was able to comment without commenting. What a position to be in for a man of colour.
The ripple effects of racism.
All of these would be worthy topics to explore in the realm of systemic racism and what it means. But what I’d like to focus on today instead are the ripple effects on individuals from Haitian or African descent – at home and abroad in countries like the USA and Canada.
Comments like this, by people in power show the underbelly of racism – the systemic way some countries and people are devalued – both by the comments and by the lack of public outcry about them. And this ripples out into how people are treated at work, whether they are hired, mentored or promoted. It ripples into schools and how children are treated, supported, encouraged. It impacts customer service, medical care, treatment by police, and even how strangers treat each other on the street.
Plus, these effects have a circular relationship with the comments. Because comments create and allow for these ripple effects to happen and continue, but how people are seen and treated also allows for comments like this to be thought and said out loud.
Take a look around this week and consider what other ripple effects comments that perpetuate (and are perpetuated by) racism create in your daily life. For you, or for others you live and work with.