Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 is a day that will go down in my collective memory. On the late night of the 19th, I couldn't go to sleep thinking about the verdict of Philando Castille's case. Dandole mente a que el "hombre" who had taken his life, Jeronimo Yanez, had gotten off. That it was because he had bought into white privilege by taking a Black life was forcing me to consider the people I know who would say something, or understand something, like, "I feared for my life," in order to justify taking a life in front of a mother and a child. My disgust and pain towards Latinxs, like Yanez, who would go through the deadliest of measures to assimilate was and remains at an all time high. But on that night it was also the deaths of Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen. Nabra Hassanen, a Muslim American teenager, whose life had also been taken by a white Latino. It was only fucking Monday, but in reality, just another day in 'Murica, and my people were at war--in the world, inside of me.
On the morning of the 20th, I woke myself up talking, arguing in Spanish with someone in my dream about why Black Lives Matter. It was the day before my Participatory Action Research presentation that focuses on centering the voices and bodies on Black and Brown women and girls in the classroom in order to empower ALL students. The research is titled Constant State of Rage: Making Noise to Survive. Within the first five hours of my day, silence was attempting to creep in through the following ways:
- A group of my students showed me a meme that was circulating in the school of me. It had been created and shared by one of their peers who had gotten his hands on on my personal Instagram. Find the image above. Although it is inappropriate for my student, the creator of this meme, to have sought out my personal IG for this picture, I find this meme clever, witty, and powerful especially because he identifies as Egyptian- American. Another testimony that this was a successful year of using an equity lens to reach my students. However, many of my students were afraid i'd get in trouble demonstrating to me that the world around them was communicating to them that to be pro-Black was to be anti- white and to exist as someone who can get "in trouble" at any time, age, and place.
- I sent my white Latinx sister the meme, and she claimed I was teaching my students reverse racism.
- One of my best friends communicated she felt uncomfortable at FB status of mine, that talked about the thread of oppression in interracial relationships. She felt the status was targeted and that I was discriminating white people based on the color of their skin aka reverse racism.
So the day before I gave a presentation about the voices of women and girls of color,
I had a dream I was defending the existence of Black people in SPANISH, and then I woke up to deal with MI PROPIA GENTE,
people I love, calling me a racist. ***Deep inhales, long exhales***
I have always known that many of the folks in my life dwell in the sunken place. Mainly because I have spent chunks of my life having drawn out conversations with Latinxs in my family and community who have tons of internal racism. And that's ok, I understand that sometimes it is my duty as POC with privilege. Also, as people of color, we all, in one way or another chill in the sunken place due to the fact that we operate in a system that oppresses us, as in our entire people, daily, regardless of wether or not you are aware. I don't judge people of color who refuse to take off the blind for the sake of life being "easier" and "simpler". But y'all, POC who have set up a home and a garden in the sunken place, have got to STOP claiming reverse racism to interrupt the process of those of us who have chosen another route of survival.
Reverse racism is not real. Reverse racism is made up. In order for you to understand why reverse racism is fake, you first have to understand the origins of race and then the construction of racism. Just like you have to know what a legitimate Yankee fitted looks like to spot a fake one...it's simple--follow me! I will break it down via sources higher than me, for folks who discredit my validity based on my existence and resistance.
Reason #1- Reverse Racism is a Lie: POC DID NOT CONSTRUCT RACE
First things first, though, let us understand that RACISM came long before the dique "official" definitions and scientific hierarchies of race. Anglo-Europeans (aka white people) were already enslaving, raping, and massacring Black and Brown people; white people had already done the pillaging and colonizing of Black and Brown spaces by the time they decided to sit down to "find" the "facts" of race. Guilt could've been the reason why white people decided, "Hey, let's figure out why we're treating everyone that's not white like this!" So Europeans revisited the age old question: "What is humanity?" or "What makes a human?" Away from the Americas, where white Americans were too busy enslaving, in Germany, scientists were trying to find an answer in the dooms of academic rooms. In the late 1700's, Christoph Maniers, a polygenist historian and philosopher, wrote an entire book breaking down race into the "beautiful" white race and the "ugly" black race. Scientist didn't stick to his systems for too long (& by that I mean now) due to the obvious fact that scientific racism was playing out in his theories; however, it's safe to say that our society quickly consumed the ideas on to his classifications of humans. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's classification has stuck around due to the fact that his theories backed up the founding fathers of this system as we know it. The United States had done a great deal of damage to Black and Brown people, and Blumenbach's theories allowed them to feel like it was scientifically ok that first Americans and Africans had been treated like less than humans. Blumenbach was an anthropologist and a physician, who collected skulls. At some point, he ended with nearly three hundred skulls. His favorite skull belonged to a Georgian man from the Caucus region. Due to his obsession with the skull, he determined all European people with white skin came from the Caucus (hence Caucasian to identify white people) region and because of that were superior to the other four races--the Mongolian ("Yellow" race), Malayan ("Brown" race), Ethiopian ("Black" race), and American ("Red" race). As we know the names of the classification might have been altered, but these his ideas have all been adapted by our nation. I write about these white supremacist, scientifically racist shit because it's important we realize race was not constructed by POC. Race was made up and racism was manifested through the language created, and the actions taken, by white bodies. THEY HAD THE POWER TO CREATE AN ENTIRE SYSTEM OF DISADVANTAGE AND OPPRESSIONS BASED ON SKIN COLOR-- DON'T Y'ALL EVEN TRYYYYY TO GIVE ME CREDIT FOR THAT.
Reason #2- Arrest Reverse Racism for Fraud: POC's Potential White Prejudice is Nowhere Near as Dangerous as Regular, Degular Racism is to POC DAILY
While a number of white Americans claim that people of color are practicing reverse racism, and thus enjoying in the perks of Black Privilege ,while keeping white folks from fully expressing white pride, white privilege still continues to dominate Black and Brown lives. White privilege leads POC into poverty, trauma, and death. In fact, don't take my word, take these numbers:
- White households make 13x the average income of a Black household,
- it would take a Black family 228 YEARS to catch up to current day white wealth,
- Black and Latinos are 40% more likely to live in poor suburbs when they are pushed out of metropolitan areas,
- While only 18% of preschool students are identified as Black almost half of the suspensions involve Black babies,
- Americans with white-sounding names are 50% more likely to get a call back compared to Black-sounding names,
- Black men are given sentences 20% longer than white men for extremely similar charges. Black and Brown girls are labeled aggressive, argumentative, feisty for speaking their minds, while white girls are identified as passionate, dedicated, and committed.
- Although Blacks and Latinxs make up a quarter of US population, combined the make up nearly 60% of prison population
- AND THE FACTS CAN GO ON FOREVER...
- Freebie: Within Latinx communities, AfroLatinxs suffer from economic, social, and political disparities. That's right, Latinxs, look around.
Reason #3- Reverse Racism is like Justin Beiber Being Called the Now Latin King by Spotify: He Still Got 0 Sazón
To be racist you have to got two things: POWER and PRIVILEGE. People of Color being racist towards white people would only exist in the context of playing pretend-- we simply don't have the prerequisites to really play the racist game. Like how you gon' play chess with someone who has twenty four pieces while you're missing 8 of your own pieces? Some would argue that POC can FOR SURE be racist towards other POC because we are playing the game with the same tools (equity!) POC can definitely not be racist towards white people because as a collective white people hold the political, economic, and social power in this country. Maybe one day that will change, but for now rest assured, POC, you are not being racist, you are simply reacting to LIFETIMES of oppression.
SO DEAR LATINXS:
FEEL THE GUILT, SIT WITH THE GUILT, PROCESS IT, & THEN DO ANYTHING BUT BLAME US.
WORK TO RID YOURSELF OF THE ANTI-BLACKNESS AND INTERNALIZED RACIST IDEALS
THAT ROTS YOUR HEART, YOUR SKIN, YOUR BONES, YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, AND YOUR SOUL.
MAKE A CHOICE, LET ALL YOUR ACTIONS BE INTENTIONAL.
Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism, and the Metaphysics of Race by Rutledge M. Dennis
We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang
It's time to talk about 'black privilege' by John Blake