Racism hurts us all. It’s much deeper than calling someone a derogatory name and walking away. Racism stops equality in its tracks, and leaves physical, psychological, emotional, and financial injuries that can last a victim’s lifetime.
Racism Harms Childbirths
Casual racism doesn’t turn and off. It follows a racist everywhere he or she goes. Black women have higher rates of dying during childbirth more than any other ethnic group in America. Racist doctors and biased nurses ignoring Black pain puts Black women and children at risk. Women dying during childbirth because of racism leaves families to care for their children left behind, costs employers good workers, removes very talented people from their communities, and the leaves families with the psychological trauma of trying to understand how a loved one could die so suddenly. The human toll of racism is immeasurable.
A healthcare professional not giving a person the same level of care they would a White person because of the color of their skin or they don’t believe in their humanity is disgraceful. Likewise, a racist patient who doesn’t want a “nigger” (a Southern patient said this to a Kenyan doctor once) taking their temperature or thinks they may be educationally inferior compared to a White doctor is racist. Asking for another doctor solely because he or she is not White before they’ve made the first diagnosis is racist. Healthcare providers are also injured by racist patients. This kind of racism also keeps many healthcare businesses from hiring good physicians of color, especially in the South where being openly racist is condoned and a part of the culture.
Racism is a public health crisis we don’t talk about enough. Racism creates health care inequality and poor outcomes for minorities.
Racism Harms Potential
Racism robs minorities of their potential. The more a person encounters racism, the more fearful they become which may reduce the risks they are willing to take to achieve their goals and dreams. Children experiencing racism from racist teachers at young ages or people witnessing police brutality/abuse of power may suffer life-long trauma from those interactions. Racist adults intentionally harming children is child abuse.
People negatively impacted by racism transfer that trauma to loved ones via stories of interactions and the feelings that occur after processing the event(s). Racism causes the same response in the body as stress does, and Black people may experience anti-Black racism multiple times during a day or week. According to a study by Science Daily, the psychological stress of racism may contribute to racial health disparities in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other age-associated diseases. Racism kills Blacks and People of Color faster!
Blacks and People of Color trying to get jobs or get promoted aren’t able to because of racist HR Officers, supervisors, and CEOS. This reduces the amount of money these people can earn annually and during a lifetime. Racism is a key cause of income inequality and snubs potential.
Racism Prevents Self-Sufficiency
Racist policies inequitably practiced among all groups creates barriers to self-sufficiency for certain groups. If you police minority communities (with smaller populations more), they are arrested more than other persons from the larger majority groups and suffer more from the systemic racial discrimination that comes with being arrested and sent to prison.
People who go to prison because of racist policing (i.e. the War on Drugs) cannot take care of themselves, their children, or contribute to society because of racist policies which prevent people from returning to society. Guess who sustains a lot of these individuals and their families? Taxpayers. Taxpayers become responsible for provide public housing help for those families in states where they are eligible for it. When those ex-offenders are released, taxpayers may care for them via written off emergency room visits or via food bank subsidies. Families also suffer because they must provide basic necessities for their loved ones.
Public assistance may support poor children not supported by their incarcerated parents impacted by institutional racism. Racism provides us with families we care or indirectly.
Racism Harms Educational Attainment
Racism prevents children and adults from attaining their educations. Racist teachers with little tolerance for misbehaving Black and Brown children are punished more harshly, pushing children into the school-to-prison pipeline. Minority children are expelled at higher rates nationally because racist policies created by scary, racist people are used to destroy the educational attainment trajectory of Black and Brown children. Young kids kicked out of school are sent to inadequate alternative schools or adult education, where they don’t receive the proper care and oversight. Young children need proper supervision to thrive and to protect them from themselves.
Lower middle-class, upper-middle class, and wealthy White kids have the same behavior and far worse, with little to no repercussions at school for the same behaviors. The inequity in behavior modification practices says to kids victimized by personal and institutional racism White kids deserve second changes, Black and Brown kids deserve to have their educations stripped away and treated like criminals until they actually become juvenile delinquents or criminals.
Parents are forced to find alternatives for those kids. Communities lose from not having those invaluable contributions and resources (tax dollars) returned by adults entering workforces. Jails are stuffed with people who don’t need to be there. Children learn not to respect law enforcement and law enforcement continues their legacy of policing Black and Brown bodies inequitably. Kids are dejected from the hate in the classrooms. Nothing good comes from racism in educational settings.
Racism Is Physically, Verbally, and Emotionally Abusive
We all want love, and we all need it. Racism is like being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love you back. No matter what you do, you can’t win the affection of the one you’re in love with. All you do is express how much you love the object of your desire and if you’re human, you likely want some affection reciprocated in return. Racism prevents racist from expressing love. Racism is physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to victims.
The emotional abuse is the most damaging because victims suffer silently with many of their injuries and wounds never healing. Emotional abuse is a weapon used to control a person, and perpetrators can injure often with no physical interactions. Some emotional abuses are inflicted from afar (i.e. the President having a press conference calling Mexicans rapists and very bad people). A bigot’s abuse method of choice is emotional abuse because they can get away with it. It’s evil, but not criminal. Symptoms of emotional abuse includes:
1. Constant criticism or attempts to manipulate and control- Perpetrators of racism are always trying to control everything in the perpetrator-victim dynamic. Lies, ignoring victims, feelings, withholding support, rewriting history, denying the abuse, etc.
2. Shaming and blaming with hostile sarcasm or outright verbal assault- Far too often victims of racism are shamed for talking about it, blamed with hostile sarcasm, or verbally assaulted. I’m assaulted at least once per day on social media or in a Medium response. I’m all for disagreeing, but it seems many racist social media users don’t understand what domestic violence or domestic terrorism, making the abuse more dangerous. Just because a perpetrator isn’t intimately connected to the victim doesn’t mean their crimes can’t be considered domestic violence.
3. The use of shaming and belittling language — Often victims of racism attempt to speak about their trauma, they are shamed for it, told they are imagining things, or victims have their narratives stolen by racists who whitewash or whitesplain victimization stories of racism making perpetrators the victims, minimizing the impact of racist actions.
4. Verbal abuse — name-calling and code speak (i.e. niggers, race-baiters, anchor-babies, welfare queens, chain migration, them/they, wetbacks, Mexicans, “the Blacks,” telling U.S. citizens to go back to a country they didn’t come from, or using racist talking points used in politics. You get the picture.
5. Withholding affection as punishment — Racist hate certain people outside of their race. Cruelty and punishment are their favorite past times. Withholding love in the form of preventing them from exercising their basic human rights or refusing to see otherness as human, treating otherness as subhuman or inferior is a form of punishment.
6. Punishment and threats of punishment — Racist love to send their victims back to where they believe they came from (Mostly Africa and Mexico in America). Other racist threats of punishment include shooting people they hate, putting Mexican and Latin American people in detention camps for seeking asylum, policing certain communities more harshly than others, withholding aid, redirecting vital community resources, failing to aid Black and Brown communities in natural disasters with the same energy distressed and displaced White communities are aided.
7. Refusal to accept his/her part in the dynamic — Racist almost NEVER see their roles in the dynamic. Regardless of whether it’s direct racism or indirect racism, they can’t ever see themselves being racist, instead choosing to blame the victims.
8. Mind games, such as gaslighting, when it comes to accepting personal responsibility for her own happiness — Racist in America will march in Charlottesville, Virginia carrying tiki torches claiming Jews will not replace them, or they’ll claim their jobs are being taken from them by Brown newcomers to America. These people refuse to take responsibility for their own lives and hold the people most responsible for their misery accountable, themselves and the politicians who look like them. Basically, anything anything non-White is a problem to them.
9. Refusing to communicate at all — Racist often refuse to engage meaningfully making it impossible to help them see how they harm others. These people are so toxic most times victims disengage to preserve their sanity and emotional well-being. Racism is violent, even when it doesn’t throw a punch, fire a shot, or lynch the way physical perpetrators injure their victims. Just because you can’t see the wounds doesn’t mean there aren’t any injuries.
Racism Prevents Upward Mobility
Black Americans experience lower upward mobility rates than white Americans do. Guess the reason? Racism.
Racism punishes Black men, which punishes current and future Black families. When a Black man or woman can’t earn a living wage or wages comparable to Whites of the same gender doing the same job, it is impossible to move upward in order to “catch up” with White families and households. Lots of White people have head starts towards upward mobility Blacks have never had.
Racially inequitable head starts can include generational wealth passed down (land, money, stocks or annuities, homes, insurance policies, etc.) financial and/or knowledge-based assistance with educational attainment goals, gatekeepers (knowing a guy or gal), or simply not having to deal with the burdens and barriers which comes with having Black and Brown skin.
Racism, along with greed and selfishness are directly connected to the upward mobility of Blacks and other minority groups. You can’t tell a man to do better when you’ve had generations to do, and lots of tools to get help ahead of that man, especially if your ancestors had a hand in ensuring the man didn’t have the same necessary resources, supports, and tools. You cannot expect people dealing with the brutality of living with non-White skin to compete with people who don’t have the same burden.
Racism has a devastating impact on humanity. Falling for racialized inequality philosophies hurts the entire society. If we’re all well, we’re all well, and when we’re all not, pretending we are doesn’t help anyone. Racism (which breeds inequality) and pretending there isn’t any racism (which allows racism and inequality to thrive) are America’s two biggest issues. Racism drives everything from how we vote, policy, to policing. If we can commit to working on those two things perhaps we could save humanity. We cannot legislate hate away, it starts in our homes, families, places of worship and our communities.
As long as we ignore the ways racism hurts us all in the short and long-term, we’re all doomed.
©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.