Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York:
– As long as the unconscious bias is that Black males are a threat, police officers (and others) will keep feeling that they have to use extreme force to protect themselves – even in situations where it seems clear that there is no threat.
– Case in point: Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner’s death (caught on video) in Staten Island, New York.
– Because of this unconscious bias, and the resulting systemic racism, racial profiling is alive and well, and also easy to get away with (as evidenced in both cases cited above) – because those called upon to make judgments about it are also victim to the same unconscious bias.
– Although I heard reporters say things like “Thank God that isn’t happening here” – it is. We have a smaller population, and maybe it’s not quite as insidious, but make no mistake, racial profiling is alive and well north of the border too.
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling:
– One of the results of systemic racism is that someone can own a team with Black basketball players (and make money from their skill), and even sleep with someone of colour, but not want to socialize with Black people – and not see an issue with that.
– This reminds me of slavery: when Black people were property, and a means to generate wealth and status, but were not considered people.
– In the Netherlands and Belgium, protests erupted over Saint Nicholas’ side-kick Black Pete. Faithful fans don’t see the depiction (black face, a frizzy wig and bright red lipstick) as racism. Their opponents disagree.
– “Cultural tradition” is how it is explained and how efforts made to preserve it are justified. This is true, but it’s the culture of colonization that created a black skinned figure that traditionally was to be feared by children. Have we not evolved?
– As countries become more diverse due to immigration, what’s the impact on people of colour who see these traditions, and on the populations of white children who learn them? Is it any wonder that xenophobia is alive and well?
In 2015, I hope we can continue to have courageous conversations about systemic racism that shed light on how people of colour are perceived and misrepresented in the media, and the ripple effects of this on policies, practices, and on how we treat each other – so that we can make real change.
Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker and facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.