How is racism,
sexism, homophobia etc defined?
Can blacks be
racists, women be sexists etc?
Example from the USA: if all blacks hated whites, how would it affect whites? Only emotionally - through fear. The whites usually solve this problem by moving further out into suburbia or by going to a shrink.
If on the contrary all whites entertain negative feelings toward blacks, how does it affect blacks? In their access to jobs, health, education, housing etc. All tangible things they have to go to the whites to get.
So blacks in the
USA (or Muslim immigrants in Europe) cannot be racists since they have
no power be able to discriminate against whites in any significant way.
How does racism
Yet, these hate-groups have no social power to be able to significantly hurt blacks as a group (or the Muslim immigrants) although rare cases of random fire bombings certainly have caused individual pain.
The big racism, which most of us suffer from, is on the other hand evasive in its manifestations. The pathological picture is usually a close-knit pattern of guilt and fear. We sincerely wish to live up to our lofty democratic ideals about equality and freedom for all, but choose in reality situations, schools and living areas, where we will have as little as possible to do with the target group.
Incapable of living up to our own ideals, we are stricken by strong guilt in the company of the target group, we lower our eyes when we meet them in our work place, we tremble in our voice when we talk about "the race problem" (US) or "the refugee problem" (Europe) in school classes with members from the target group listening etc.
Through such evasive
behavior we in the US created the biggest ghettos the world has ever seen
- just as we are now creating similar Muslim ghettos in Europe.
All of it helps to increase the anger- and hostility patterns in the oppressed, who as a result of their sense of total rejection often begin to strike out in self-destructive patterns. The oppressor and the oppressed thus constantly create each other and both end up as victims, yet only the oppressor possess reel power to change this "system."
We, who are the oppressors,
try to disclaim all responsibility by looking for the cause of this sad
"system" in a few extreme losers such as the "Ku Klux Klan,"
"skinheads" etc, who feel just as shut out from "the American
Dream" as blacks and have no social power to hurt the oppressed.
In reality the great decent-thinking majority among us are not only oppressors of American blacks and European immigrants, but also of the most hurt whites, who are also ghettoized into despair and hatred. And thus the vicious cycle of oppression goes on and on through human history.
What is internalized
The most obvious example is internalized sexism: everywhere in the world women are good in child rearing, in convivial gatherings and in women's magazines at telling each other, that the woman's "natural" place is in the home, wearing a veil, not taking power away from men, etc. No oppressed group would accept its own oppression for one minute, if such a distress pattern had not first been installed in it.
Internalized racism is perhaps seen most strongly in American blacks. Such as in "playing the dozens," a game in which young black men try to humiliate, tease and insult each other in the strongest possible way. When you are being attacked, the object is to stay "cool." If you get upset, you lose.
This cruel invalidation of each other has continued since slavery, where it apparently originated in black parents invalidations of their children in order to break down any rebelliousness in them, which could lead to their execution. Thus - in the name of love - so that they would survive - they chose to collude with their slave masters by crushing and humiliating their own children.
How do we become
Hardly any of us have as white children in the USA avoided situations similar to this: we were on the bus in early childhood when a black guy of a certain type stepped inside the bus. Unconsciously our mother pulled us a little closer to herself. Since we were incapable of understanding why this signal was given, it helped - along with many other similar early messages about blacks - to cripple us with a paralyzing fear of blacks the rest of lives.
Later in life our parents sincerely tried to teach us their own high ideals, their Christian love of one's neighbor, their firmly anchored belief in "equal opportunities for everyone," "American creed" etc. But whenever the talk came to "inner city", slums, blacks, homosexuals etc they couldn't help - again without themselves knowing it - raising their eye brows a bit, or changing the voice slightly. Thus they oppressed their children's innate and natural love and curiosity towards all people with the crushing message: that some people are not as equal as others.
Later in life - when we try to live up to their high ideals - we may attempt to break out of this oppression by for instance in high school or college trying to reach out to blacks (or Muslim immigrants). But all the time we are paralyzed by the rumbling in our back head - this terrifying feeling of betraying our parents love: all their veiled warnings about blacks. And if this doesn't directly hold us back from becoming friends with a black (or an immigrant), it certainly makes us so clumsy in our attempt that our adversary escapes far away.
Once again our guilt (seen as patronizing) is woven together with fear: now our fear of rejection. And once again our behavior creates anger and hostility patterns in those whom we try to reach out to.
That it should be so difficult to behave in a decent and human way shows how horribly oppressed we were by racism. We must never forget that this racist oppression made blacks equally paralyzed in their human behavior.
Example: a black man comes walking down the street. A white man comes up and slaps him in the face. The black man keeps walking, another white gives him a blow. At the sight of the third white the black takes his hands up to protect his face.
Through the centuries these defense mechanisms have become deeply installed in American blacks whenever they see a white. And suddenly one day they meet you - a "nice" white, who says: "Hey, I want to be your friend!" And what will the blacks do? They will pull their arms up in a self-defensive posture or put on a protective hostile expression which can make you feel like crawling down in a mouse hole (or retreat further out into white suburban isolation).
We tend to forget that such internalized racism only exists because the white blows never really ceased. Hurt by their rejection we end up once again putting the blame on the victim: blaming them for wanting to "ghettoize themselves," as especially heard among Europeans today about Muslim immigrants. It is easy to see that in such an oppressive system we are all hurt - and eventually all losers.
What can we do?
AMERICAN PICTURES; All rights reserved.