Information: Racism is interacting with an individual or group in a way that is influenced by assumptions about them that are based on their perceived race, whether that perception is based on physical appearance, language, style, religion, or other factors. It has been a pervasive aspect of life in America for the past 400 years, not just for minorities, but for all of us.
Can a condition so endemic be eliminated by NOT doing something?
A germ enters a body and evades or overwhelms its defenses, infecting millions of cells and damaging organs. Suppose the germ got its foothold due to poor health habits—unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, poor hygiene, etc. Can it be eliminated by ceasing those habits?
An avalanche rolls down a mountainside, gaining speed and momentum as the force of gravity acts on it over time. It arrives at a level street, threatening a residential neighborhood. Does it immediately stop moving because gravity is no longer a driving force?
A lake is polluted over decades by the use of pesticides and herbicides on surrounding farmland, becoming poisonous to the living things that depend on it. If the farmers decide to stop using the offending pesticides and herbicides, does the lake suddenly become hospitable to life?
A child is raised in a community where his older siblings, his parents, and most of the people he knows do not feel safe walking down the street or driving to the store because their human and civil rights aren’t recognized by the majority of people around them due to their perceived race. In his teens, he goes away to college. Do the effects of his childhood experiences suddenly vanish?
Inertia is the tendency for something to continue in its current condition unless effort is exerted to bring about change.
Deciding not to be a racist, deciding to try to be aware of one’s assumptions and biases and not act on them, is something any decent person would do. But unless we act with intention and determination in opposition to racism and its effects—unless we are anti-racist—racism will continue to eat at the foundations of the kind of society that is envisioned in our Constitution, the kind of society in which good will, fairness, and generosity of spirit would be the most pervasive aspects of life in America.
Isn’t that kind of society worth the effort?