Dismantling Racism: Ending Racism in the U.S.
OK, I'm, serious. This will be a serious essay about a serious problem and, most importantly, a serious plan and proposal for solving that problem. It will involve work. Reading it might turn out to be work, but there will be homework and field work. This will be a participatory endeavor and some behavioral changes are more than likely going to be required of most. This essay isn't intended to be entertainment unless you find thinking and problem solving entertaining.
We must end racism, it is a plague, it is beneath us a species, and it is harming and destroying far more than its directly impacted victims. It has a negative effect, though often invisible, on all of society, every aspect, detail and interaction, even on our thought processes, and we must stop it for the good of the victims, for the food of society and for our own good, spiritually and otherwise. Beyond that, we must get past this in order to get on with things and start living as we should and being what we should be. It is a horrible thing that benefits none except a few reprehensible exploiters.WE must solve this. Nobody else will, unless they are somebody we enlist to come along and help. No neighbor, no other generation, no company, government or political party. We have to do it ourselves as individuals and we are in it for ourselves, as individual, if only for our peace of mind, psychological wellbeing and spiritual development.
Assuming that you are still with me, you will need to download "Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book for Social Change Groups" by Western States Center, 2003; PO Box 40305 Portland, OR 97240 503-228-8866. You can try the search engine of your choice to find it or go to any of the following sites:
This is a 120 page pdf. Save it to at least two places and print out a dead tree version at your own discretion. It is both the inspiration and the cause of this essay. It is, as it says, a "resource book", and a classic "workbook" with all of what those words entail. For all of those who've ever been to any of those seminars, company meetings or development gatherings that meet in cafeterias, library back rooms and one grade above cheapo motels, yes, it is one of those workbooks. It can be redundant and repetitive, but you need to work your way through it. I would go so far as to say that you need to go through it more than once, and then later revisit it periodically.
As you work your way through the workbook, you'll begin to see why government, at any level, is not the answer and why, in all honesty, governments have never tried. You'll also start to see why it is hopeless to wait for one of the political parties to come to the rescue. Like government, they aren't truly equipped to carry this out, which is why, in spite of all of the talk, none of them has ever even suggested a plan or proposed solution. You will also notice brief mentions of the fact that this can work for all of the other "isms", sexism, ageism, ableism. homophobia, etc. In fact it should work for every type and form of othering except perhaps some religious othering. The workbook is focused on its purpose and goal, as it should be, and as we as well should be. I would however, assert that we have an obligation to eliminate all forms of discrimination and othering, at all times. We are all capable of multitasking and I would suggest that as you put these processes and principles into action, once you get into the swing of it, you begin to take on all other forms of discrimination as the situations arise. After all, if you are at a gathering and somebody refers to a female POC as a N* B*, assuming you don't "pragmatically" opt for silence, you don't tell them not to use the N word, you tell them not to use either word, and explain why, preferably without calling them an asshole while doing so.
Peruse doesn't mean skim or scan, it means to read something in a thorough or careful way or to examine something carefully or at length. We need to peruse the coursebook intently, thoughtfully, expansively, introspectively, and, in my opinion, repeatedly. No matter how much you may think that you know, understand or even grok, this, that, or the other particular section or subsection, read it all and absorb it completely, contemplatively, and analytically, seeking examples, applications, understanding and all that entails. Think on possible behavior modifications, keeping in mind that right contemplation (right mindfulness) is part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. (Wikipedia: The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi ('meditative absorption or union').)
OK, the Resource book has 4 main sections, each with several subsections. Some will seem directed to others, but read them all carefully and contemplatively anyway. The first section is background, history and introductory material. Because you are not the Supreme court, you cannot simply dismiss it as mere prefacatory material. For all you know there could be new stuff, and all of it together, as a coherent context and framework merits contemplation, understanding, ratiocination, and, for most of us, I suspect, acknowledgement.
Next it proceeds to consideration of individual change, such things as growth, development and empowerment, ideational changes, changes in outlook and behavior. It considers persons of color (and other oppressed groups) separately from whites, but all of us really need to read and understand the content with respect to both groups. We are all in this together. We need to understand and assist each other and that requires understanding all of our respective, challenges, processes, goals and targets and the steps to take in order to get where we have to wind up.
From individuals it moves to organizations. Again, as with individuals, it is best read and treated as if all of it were directed at all of us. We should also consider that what is presented can and should apply to all organizations, formal and informal, large and small, political, social, ad hoc, goal directed or not. It is up to us to figure what "organizations" that we engage with to start working on converting to anti-racist organizations, either per se, or as an integrated parallel additional purpose. It is easy to see activist and political groups as taking on the challenge of being simultaneously actively anti-racist and working to end and overcome racism within and without. However, there is also no reason that a bowling team, or league, or the regular participants in the Saturday morning bicycle ride cannot also take on that challenge and added function. We have to remember that eventually all of us and all organizations have to become anti-racist and more, and as soon as possible at that. The final section is concerned with using these organizations to achieve change, to move forward and solve problems that have some basis in racism, on whatever level we can.
OK, it is an open thread, so the floor is now all yours.