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Curing Racism…wouldn’t inoculation be easier?

I was totally planning to talk about something other than race and racism today. But then I read this post about residential schools and the subsequent fallout in Canada. And it got me thinking about the long term impact of racism on our community and the half life of such a virulent disease. (Some of the comments also pissed me off, but again we’re back to context and respect and I’m just not in the mood today.) And the fact that even though reparations for the descendants of slaves has been a hotly debated topic for years now, no one seems to be willing to make reparations for the effects of racism itself. I’m not even talking about cash (or the famed 40 acres and a mule) moreso I’m thinking of steps being taken to heal the damaged thought processes that have become such a part of our society.

Obviously we can’t change what’s being taught at home. But, what about investing in teaching history properly with all the facts from K-12th grade instead of letting college be the place where people (those who take the right classes and pay attention in them) get a clue about race relations throughout history? Or spending less money on jails and weapons and more on targeted social programs and funding quality schools for all? Access to quality medical care and decent food couldn’t hurt, especially if we stop criminalizing poverty and start trying to eradicate it. There is so much that could be done to actually level the playing field and benefit everyone. Racism (and the other ‘isms) will destroy society if left unchecked so let’s vaccinate our children.

Mind you, none of these ideas are new and none of them are going to fix what’s wrong right here and right now. But, if we took a long term view and we set a stage for our kids where diplomacy and respect trumped “Those people are all X” and “We have to protect our way of life” then just maybe 200 years from now there won’t be a need for conversations about whether or not people forced into schools dedicated to destroying their culture and their language were abused “enough” to qualify for reparations. Possibly we could be a society that doesn’t think assimilation is the key to success. Maybe (and I know this is a big maybe) we could stop bigotry before it starts and really turn this into a post-racial, post-classist, post-sexist society?

5 thoughts on “Curing Racism…wouldn’t inoculation be easier?”

  1. Rystefn says:

    They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… I think, in this context, that’s not putting it anywhere near strongly enough. As it is with so many problems, education is probably the best (only?) solution here. Sadly, far too many people seem to have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are now, or even in making it worse. It’s a long and uphill battle, and it’s easy to get discouraged, but we have to keep fighting it.

    Yeah, I know this comment isn’t much more than “me too,” but I honestly think we need more me too-ism on this subject. There’s been far too much silence about it for far too long already.

  2. black yoda says:

    I like the idea of reparations for the effects of racism. That’s a great point. Of course, the question posed will be how do you quantify the effects of racism? And the point of that question would be to furtherdeflect
    and delay any meaningful redress.
    I remember watching a documentary on PBS about MLK (can’t remember which one) and they interviewed the man who performed his autopsy. According to him, Martin Luther King had the heart of a man in his 60’s. He was 39 when he was assassinated, but this country had been killing him long before that.

    Great Blog.

  3. Rystefn says:

    Actually, that would be a perfectly valid question. Yes, some people would use it in the way you’re saying, but the reason it would work is that it’s a question that actually needs to be asked.

  4. black yoda says:

    I wouldn’t mind that question being asked if the point was to move the discussion further. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would be the case. The very fact that we would have to shift the conversation to the subsequent effects of slavery and not slavery itself suggests to me that no amount of proof would be sufficient and no answer we give to the questions would suffice.

  5. Rystefn says:

    That is something that would, of course, vary from person to person. The discussion just can’t be moved further without addressing the subject, though, and there’s no way around that. The only choice I see is to either have the discussion knowing that people will try to sandbag it, or to never have it at all.

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