Check It Out: No vaccine for racism?


by J. Pharoah Doss
For New Pittsburgh Courier

When Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the nomination for the vice-presidency at the Democratic National Convention, she made it clear to the American people there was no vaccine for racism —We have to do the work.

That’s a fact, besides what parent would allow their child to be injected with racism to develop an immunity; but after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where Latinos were targeted, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated, White supremacy was a virus, and America has not been inoculated.

This implies a vaccination process is possible.

Jennifer Harvey wrote the book, Raising White Kids: Bringing up children in a racially unjust America and the article: How not to raise a racist White kid. In the article Harvey stated, no previous White generation handed down the kinds of lessons that previous Black generations passed on to their youth about race. (Harvey doesn’t give an example of a generational lesson that Blacks passed down. It’s implied that Black people taught their children White people are racist and America is a racist country.) Black people know, and study after study backs it up, that there’s no such thing as too early when it comes to talking with our kids about race and racism.

And we can’t get to the anti-racism part if we don’t interrupt patterns of White silence. (Or we can’t create anti-racist White children if we don’t inject them with racism.)

Harvey stated most White parents today were socialized in White silence and passed it on to their kids. White silence is a kind of race talk in a nation that is at once very diverse, deeply segregated and structurally organized as a White racial hierarchy, and silence has many forms. Sometimes it sounds like “everybody is equal” and sometimes White parents tell their children to be colorblind.

What’s wrong with equality and colorblindness?

Anti-racist philosophy teaches equity instead of equality. Non-Whites want to be treated fairly, but Whites believe non-Whites want to be equal to them making their promotion of equality patronizing regardless of their sincerity. Colorblindness is when Whites teach their children not to see race in order to reject racism, but anti-racist philosophy states teaching White children to be colorblind makes them reject non-White culture and invalidates the experiences of people of color in a racist society. (This is a strong argument against a literal interpretation of colorblind, but colorblindness was always taught in a figurative fashion.) According to anti-racist philosophy, phrases like “all men are created equal” and “people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin” are not proper concepts to teach and could be considered racist.

Harvey inquired: What happens when White families fail to engage in race-conscious, anti-racist parenting? The racist culture in which all of our lives are embedded teaches White youth. Then Harvey quoted Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, there’s no such thing as non-racist in a world of racism, one is either racist or antiracist.

Now the question is, will this antiracist philosophy produce its objective, or will it be counterproductive?


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