By Corey Holt
America is a country that prides itself on being the land of the brave, and the home of the free. Every man, woman and child are granted the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which, according to the illustrators of the the Declaration of Indepence, is granted by the Creator to every human at birth.
Not only did America disregard the law of her own land to ensure that the institution of slavery continued as a prosperous economy boost, but America also failed to right her wrongs.
The roots that allowed for institutions such as slavery to exist opened up the gates for other systems to sprout such as Jim Crow segregation and the prison industrial complex.
“Most people when they are talking about racism, are really talking about prejudice,” Dr Joy DeGruy said to the crowd of roughly 150 CCSF students and faculty members seated in the Diego Rivera Theater on Valentine’s day 2018.
“How many believe in the audience that there is something called White racism going on in America?” she asked, prompting hands to raise by more than half of the theater.
“Now how many people feel there is Black racism, meaning racism perpetuated onto Whites from Blacks,” she said. The response was a staggering difference.
Dr. DeGruy is an educator and social scientist who has spent more than twenty five years conducting research on the physiological effects of racism in the Black community. “How does White racism adversely affect the lives of Black people in America?” she asked.
Students from every background and ethnicity began to respond with issues such as employment, education, healthcare and the criminal justice system. Diversity.
“Now how does Black racism adversely affect the lives of White people?” she asked. “I can tell you, it’s fear”
“When we unpack fear,” said Dr. DeGruy, “we’re really talking about that other list, because they’re afraid we’re going to do something about that list – but we never have.”
According to Dr. DeGruy, racism directly refers to the power that government institutions use to place people of color at a social and economic disadvantage.
“Black people may be prejudiced, they may even hate White people, but they’re [White people] still getting along,” she said. “So what that means is that not only do I not like you, but I have the power to affect you negatively as a people.”
Slavery was an institution set in place by wealthy White landowners and law makers in order to exploit free labor provided by captives who were predominantly people of color.
Over 150 years after the implementation of the 13h amendment America saw its first African-American President president elected in 2008, but it seems the country has still yet to reconcile its relationship with the African-American community.
“America’s pathology is her denial,” Dr. DeGruy said, “It is why we have to have the conversation, it is why we can never agree on what’s going on, it is why we are so angry and it is why we are so afraid.” She said, “It is because of denial.”