We each have to ask whether we can handle the way we treat each other. Would you be okay being treated the way People of Color and other targeted groups are treated socially, politically, and legally? You are part of society, what you do and say matters.
Jane Elliott, the teacher in this video, has worked on education about Racism in America since the day after Martin Luther King was murdered. This is a small window into that work. A larger documentary, Eye of the Storm, is available, it was filmed the third year that she taught this for third-graders in Iowa. I chose this video as the introduction because it contains a very telling moment. About half-way through one of the blue-eyed participants rage quits. It is worth the time to hear Jane’s response and the response from the kids in the exercise. There are several documentaries that have been produced on her workshops. One of my favorites was produced for Brazilian TV, it happened during the 90’s and nails the rise and fall of Colin Powell a decade before it happened.
It has come to my attention that many of the people who are reading this are sensitive about being called racist. Please allow me to clarify, you live in and participate in a racist society. If you have a house, a job, or clothes on your back you have reaped benefits from a racist society. You are not, personally, racism. You do one of three things: fight back against the racism, accept racism, or you support racism. Your claim to goodness or rightness is tied to which you choose to do. Each of us old enough to read this have bigotry and prejudice, that is inescapable.
Deriving value from the world you were born into does not make you a bad person. But, complacence when witness to injustice does chip away at goodness. I do not want you to flagellate yourself for the times that you have chosen self-preservation in the face of injustice. As repentance I want you to own your decisions and work to rebalance the scale in someone else’s life on a person-to-person level. Repent by helping someone, repent by building up where you you have been silent, and repent by never allowing your feelings to be a factor in another person’s survival.
You cannot escape the racist systems that you were born into, you can only work to retool or rebuild a system that does not accept and rely on racism as a central pillar. The first step is to never allow your feelings of comfort to stand in the way of other people’s survival.