We talk about racism as being of the past, but we often don’t realize that a single act of violence opens doors to hundreds of years of oppression.
After years of struggle, many African Americans still live in a state of constant fear, highlighted by acts of violence against them across the nation over the past few years.
In honor of African American history month, the Troy University Philosophy Society and the NAACP held a screening of the documentary “Thirteenth.” This served as a premise for an open, moderated discussion on racial relations and racism that African Americans are facing in today’s context.
This discussion was moderated by LaKerri Mack, an assistant professor of political science; Kathryn Tucker, a lecturer in the department of history; and Jay Valentine, an assistant professor of philosophy and religion.
Students talked openly about the fears they had regarding racial discrimination. They highlighted that recent rhetoric in the political sphere on mass incarceration provided grounds for police brutality.
I talked to the panelists earlier this week, and all of them agreed on the reality of racism today.
Why then, after years of struggle, is violence against black people still prevalent today, especially with law enforcement?
“To a certain extent, it boils down to what people can get away with,“ Valentine said. “Statistically, we have seen the difference in trials and sentencing based on the ethnicity of the people involved.”
Tucker added a historian’s perspective to this.
“Our world still sends messages of what it had valued in the past,“ she said. “You cannot take what is happening today and separate it from the past because the past shaped today’s social and political system.
“People were told it was okay to treat people of a different race in a certain way, and you can’t just erase out that influence. “
The discussion that took place during the event impressed Tucker.
“We got a real conversation going. We are all people and race is not the important factor here,” she said.
“There is a complete disconnect on both sides,” said Myles Webster, a sophomore secondary education major from Moody and president of the Troy chapter of the NAACP.
“There is a lack of willingness to address issues because people are afraid of confrontation. We don’t exchange enough with respect to community.”
How, then, can we address these subtle forms of racism that are evident today?
We need to stop stereotyping.
We need to have conversations about this to find a solution to racial issues and look at different perspectives.
There are challenges on both sides. There are certain aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement that may seem a little extreme, and they may not be perfect. We can never achieve reconciliation until we understand the emotions of people who live this life and empathize with them.
We should not be afraid to talk about racial relations because that is the only way to come up with a solution.
“You need to be color brave, not color blind,” Webster said. “There is a way to see color and appreciate color but still see them (people of color) as humans.”
This nation has come a long way in its history of racial relations, but until we reach a point where color is not a pre-determining filter, the fight against racism isn’t over.