Thank you for your response. I agree that we have a fundamental disagreement about whether or not we live in a white supremacist society. I have formed my opinion over many years based on not only my lived experience as a Black woman in America, but an extensive amount of research on race, privilege and power and how they function.
I think that many boomers and silent generation Americans share your opinion, regardless of race. But this opinion depends upon a very limited definition of racism.
To you, racism is intentional, discrete action taken against someone who is “other.” For me, racism is a skin tone-based system that creates political identities of superiority or inferiority based on the color of a person’s skin.
You said that thinking of Black people as inherently inferior is a way of thinking that has mostly died out. I disagree, and you really only have to turn on the news or look at the front page of any newspaper to see this. When crime occurs in white neighborhoods, it is described as ‘shocking’ or 'horrific,’ as if white criminality is exceptional when in reality white people commit the majority of all crimes in this country. When crime occurs in a Black neighborhood, it is considered so normative that it often doesn’t get reported at all--reinforcing the deeply held belief that Black people are criminal by nature. When an unarmed Black child is shot by the police, every aspect of that child’s background is mined until a framework of criminality can be created. When Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, media outlets ran stories about the marijuana Trayvon had in his locker. When Dylan Roof went on a rampage and slaughtered Black parishioners during Bible study with the intent to cause a ‘race war,’ (his words, not mine) the police officers who arrested him took him to Burger King.
One phrase that has been used to describe racism in our current context is a 'dog whistle.’ This is a great analogy because Black people, who have been forced to struggle with our racial identity and how it impacts our lived experience since birth, are acutely attuned to racially charged language and behaviors whereas white people, who have the privilege of never having to think about race until someone “other” comes into the room, are mostly oblivious to the same words and actions.
I think that once you begin to look beyond your personal experience and start to thoroughly investigate what you have been taught about race and the credibility of that information you could make an excellent ally for BIPOC and people with other marginalized identities. I encourage you to do your own research, don’t take my word for it. Read Robin Di’Angelo. Read Tim Wise. Read Peggy McIntosh; and as you read, ask yourself the same type of insightful and critical questions you have been asking me and I guarantee your worldview will start to shift.
Thanks again for reading.