Systemic racism exists.
Institutional racism exists.
Racial profiling exists.
Denying it is senseless, fruitless and disingenuous.
It is not an American problem, it is a human problem that has existed throughout history and throughout the world in all its ugly forms.
Racism, tribalism, nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, chauvinism, apartheid, sectarianism and, in general, hatred and discrimination toward other people because of race, ethnicity or some other identifying characteristic is a horrible stain on the human condition that is not going away.
People never admit to being racists and are offended at the very suggestion that their words or behavior are offensive.
Of course, we all know the first step toward recovery is always admitting the problem.
Anyone who thinks racism disappeared in 1964 is in denial.
Changing laws does not change hearts.
In many ways, racial tensions in this country are no better than they were in 1964. Laws have just changed.
When Black mothers and fathers must teach their young boys things that white parents don’t ever even have to think about, it is quite obvious we have two systems of justice with completely different standards, expectations and rules.
Don’t hang out with friends after dark. Don’t wear a hoodie. Don’t look at white people, especially those in authority, directly in the eyes, look down. Don’t play your music loud. Don’t play pranks. Don’t go for a run in a predominantly white neighborhood. Don’t fidget. Don’t put your hands in your pockets. If questioned, don’t mumble and don’t talk too loudly. Don’t make any sudden moves but don’t act lethargic. These are some of the talks people of color have with their children out of fear for their safety and well-being.
White people must understand that having a Black, Latino or Asian friend does not mean the world around you is suddenly OK and you have done your part to end racism.
It is not enough to just not be a racist yourself.
We must be anti-racists and raise our children to be anti-racists.
We must be allies.
We must have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations.
We must be honest.
We must admit the problem.
We must admit racism exists.
That’s the first step.
But, it is only a first step in a very, very long and difficult journey.