Categorized | Viewpoints

Racism is always inexcusable

I want to start off this article by stating that when I was asked to write it, I didn’t want it to be about gender, race or being international in America, because I wanted everyone to realize that I, like them, am a normal person with similar dreams, hopes and ideas of fun. Moreover, I wanted to showcase the fact that some people don’t choose activism for the aesthetic or clout (as a lot of white activists here tend to do) but because they are shedding light on some real trauma that they’ve gone through that needs light to be shed upon it. I was also tired of being associated with racist-misogynist connotations of being an angry, irrational brown femme who couldn’t potentially ever talk about anything else but female oppression.

Right. Anyway, I was naive to think so because this article is very much about race and being personally terrified as a non-American brown person at The College of Wooster. I find that hilarious, but I understand that someone who doesn’t know me misses the humor in my blind naivete. That’s how racism feels to me now — funny, because you should have known how hard the (metaphorical) slap that you didn’t see coming would hit you in the face. You didn’t even see it, but you really should have seen it because you’re educated now so you’re supposed to know better, and that’s why it’s so funny, because you did not see or expect it, but it hits you anyway. Right across the face. Even in your classroom.

Recently, someone in one of my classes said that they didn’t think it mattered to them that over 300 people in Egypt had died in an attack on a mosque, “probably because of internalized racism.” They said “internalized racism,” but they were white. Let me clarify something real quick; that’s racism. Internalized racism is the internalization by people of racist attitudes towards members of their own ethnic group, including themselves (feel free to cross-check the definition). So this white person couldn’t have internalized racism against Egyptian civilians, by definition.

After class ended, another brown classmate of mine and I debriefed about how our hearts were racing since hearing that comment. We didn’t really quite have the words to enunciate how terrifying it was to hear our own classmate explicitly state that they didn’t care about brown lives and openly admit that it was due to racism. What does that imply, that we sit in class with someone who is actively racist? Does this mean that they don’t take our opinions seriously, that our presence is undesirable, that our death would mean nothing to them? “How deep is the self-proclaimed racism?” is the question I want answered.

I understand that a large part of being at this college is having to prove how you are the most woke, and that admitting to having “internalized racism” seems more woke than just admitting you’re racist. However, you obviously can’t pull that card when you’re white and talking about brown lives. That’s racism. I have to sit in class with someone who felt comfortable enough to admit they were racist. How disgusting. Where’s my compensation for the emotional labor and the strength I need (Every. Single. Day. Here) to hold myself together?

I also understand and agree that we are all ignorant about something or the other, and no one can always say or do the right things, including people of color. However, in our pursuit of incessantly trying to prove to others how woke we are, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that white people admitting they’re racist in the presence of people of color is structural violence. It’s violent. Just because we hear terms like “internalized racism” doesn’t mean we should infer its meaning without first looking it up, or somehow think using that term to admit you’re racist makes it acceptable. If you think you might be racist, reflect upon it in your own time (not by making public proclamations of it). And if you ultimately deduce that you are racist, also know that you’re doing your education a disservice by forgiving yourself for it instead of making amends to that mindset.

Maansi Kumar, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at MKumar18@wooster.edu.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1112 posts on The Wooster Voice.


Contact the author

Leave a Reply