I don’t see race. I see racism.
What does it mean to “see race?” Or to “talk about race?” I have come to believe that so often when we say “race,” we in fact mean “racism.”
It is impossible to “see race” because race is a human invention, meant to divide and conquer. As a society we continue to uphold this destructive fiction, and in doing so, I am convinced that we impede our ability to one day destroy racism.
“Race is the child of racism, not the father.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates) “I am persuaded that we really won’t eliminate the problems of discrimination in the criminal justice system, in the education system, in the employment system until we change the narrative of racial difference that we have all accepted.” (Bryan Stevenson) “It’s up to you. As long as you think you’re white, there’s no hope for you. As long as you think you’re white, I’m gonna be forced to think I’m black.” (James Baldwin) “There is no such thing as race. None. There’s just the human race, scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct. And it has benefits. It has a social function. Racism. But race can only be defined as a human being.” (Toni Morrison)
All of the above are renowned writers and activists. And each of them is highlighting an important element we as a society, as a culture, continue to dismiss. That of the ideology of race being the bedrock of systemic racism. As a society we have been attempting to dismantle a system while accepting the ideology at its root. We have not disinfected the wound at all and unsurprisingly, the wound only continues to become infected.
When I bring up this argument, I am more often than not dismissed. I am told “Yes, race is a social construct, but race is real.” I disagree wholeheartedly. Race is not, and never has been, real. What is real is racism, a hateful, demeaning, destructive system born out of the erroneous belief that “white people” are inherently superior to everyone else. I reject the ideology and I refuse to challenge a system while simultaneously accepting its foundation.
I don’t see race. I see racism. And I will continue to fight it.