Friday, April 26, 2013

"Define Racism: Can We Talk?”-Beverly Tatum

Recently, I prepared for my work with Teach For America. They had me to read a few interesting excerpts from books as well as various articles. They were used as a basis to understand the culture and environment of people of different ethnic groups. I took time to read a chapter from a book written by Dr. Beverly Tatum titled Can We Talk about Race? and Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegration. The chapter that I read was "Define Racism: Can We Talk? Tatum to time to work through and find a way for "racism" to be defined and thoroughly explained.

Throughout the text, Tatum made vast attempts of explaining the meaning behind the word "racism." The chapter started off discussing racism staring young due to limited interaction with others outside of our racial/ethnic/socio-economic/religious backgrounds from our own and the lack firsthand experience with people different from others. It also discussed how stereotypes come from what we have not been told which was interesting perspective to look at for me because we typically say that stereotypes come from pre-conceived notions. The definition of beauty has long been on the basis of race.The article then goes on to discuss prejudice and describe it as preconceived judgment or opinion, based on limited knowledge

Here is where the article got very interesting Tatum defines racism as a system of advantage based on race; not just prejudice but a system. cultural racism as cultural images and messages that affirm assumed superiority of Whites and assumed inferiority of ppl of color. She attributes racism to “Smog in the air” whereas visible at some points but still less apparent at others; yet people still breath it in. For whites, racism, she says, is not completely our fault but it is our fault: We continue to add to the “pollution” of the air; we continue to allow our personal prejudices to intervene in our lives as we interact with different people throughout our interactions because we lack knowledge of certain groups; rejecting the fact that we have prejudices? Do I have positive images of another group before I truly know anything about them?
She then goes on to discuss what she calls Passive Racism versus Active Racism. Active racism is racism that continues to outwardly display racist ways and ideals such as the KKK. Passive racism is racism in which we see happening yet one continues to allow the racism to continue. Her question was : How can we move White people from a position of active or passive racism to active antiracism? She believed that it was up to whites to end racism.
Here lies a few questions. How do you define racism? Are all people racist or is it just a few groups? Who can help to end racism?


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