That Word Black – Langston Hughes (Did racism end? Historical context)
You and your partner go to see the film The House We Live In… – Claudia Rankine (Supporting material that racism exists)
White America’s Racial Illiteracy – Robin DiAngelo (Challenges the white people face in the context of racism)
Weary Oracle – Dawn Lundy Martin (Existence of racism in colleges & universities) Racism in Kindergarten – Tom Jacobs
From “What to a Slave Is the Fourth of July” Frederick Douglass (Historical context)
Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think – Bryan Stascavage (Supporting material for racism)
According to Martin Luther King, a society judges its individuals “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. However, this statement is not true in every case. Some critics argue that racial injustice still plagues American society, and in particular that African Americans and other minorities are the persistent victims – sometimes unknowingly – like the incident mentioned by Claudia Rankine. In the story, the narrator’s neighbor misjudges her friend as being “menace” just because he had a black skin. Moreover, he called the police without giving him any further notice. Taking into consideration the mentality of the whites, her neighbor never would have imagined that Claudia could have a friend who is a black guy. This reflects the kind of racial prejudice that thrives in her neighborhood. Such kind of incidents that are a part of everyday life can spread the feeling of racism and can question the legitimacy of the Black Lives in America. Further, in the story, Claudia restricts her friend to talk to her on the phone openly where people can easily witness him. This creates an unnecessary tension and creates a sense of racial discrimination.
The perspectives about the racism of whites are different from those of the blacks. Living in a white dominant context, most whites have a limited understanding of racism because they have not been trained to think in complex ways about it. Because race is constructed as residing in people of color, whites have the liberty not to bear the social burden of race. For example, the centrality in history, textbooks, historical representations, and perspective, the teachers, role models, heroes, and heroines that are all white, one cannot avoid the internalizing the message of white superiority. One cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if one ignores group power relations. The socialization renders people racially illiterate and the mainstream sources – schools, textbooks, media – don’t provide us with the multiple perspectives we need in order to judge the topic as a whole. In order to get that knowledge, one needs to think outside of the box and go beyond the normal rumors of the society to gain the different perspectives and viewpoints. According to Robin DiAngelo, “it’s an ongoing and painful process of seeking to uncover our socialization at its very roots. It asks us to rebuild this identity in new and often uncomfortable ways. But I can testify that it is also the most exciting, powerful, intellectual stimulation, and emotionally fulfilling journey I have ever undertaken”.