Opinion: RACISM.


Gwynevere Catsro


People are more afraid of being called a racist than racism itself.

When racism is mentioned, it’s a serious subject, as it should be. Yet, it’s something so serious that there are different takes on it.

I want to specifically talk about racism as it relates to people who think it’s something that’s left in the past. Something that was a blunder, specifically in American history, but something that can be long forgotten as it was left in the dust along with the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Racism is dead. No one is racist unless they say the n-word. And there’s room for discussion even then.

When I hear the older generation talk about our generation, I always think about two things; The “Zombie generation” and the “Woke generation.”

Zombies relating to the fact that we’re always on our phones. That is an entire discussion in itself as every generation within the past 70 years could be called “zombies” to some extent. I digress.

The “Woke” Generation talking about how progressive this generation is. But progressive is a nice way of putting it. More like older generations are talking about how “sensitive” this generation is.

I would like to start off by saying that our generation is the most progressive generation so far. Though that goes without saying as each generation since the boomer generation has increased in its progressive stances tremendously. But while I feel like our generation is very understanding when it comes to a lot of issues, we still have a long way to go.

So, I’ve talked with people on both sides of this scale. The scale for me being between unhinged twitter takes and overt racism.

Do I even need to get into Twitter? It’s a wreck no matter which way you turn and the things you can see on there are abhorrent. And yes, there are definitely extremely sensitive people on Twitter who say things that would make anyone think they were crazy. But at the end of the day, the people who are overly sensitive about different issues are not creating change in any significant way. And at the end of the day, there can be a root problem found in the “non-issues” that they speak about.

The one that can be extremely harmful is the other side of that scale. The one I am most familiar with and have unfortunately had experience with.

Let me first talk about the non-extremes of this issue.

Throughout the hallways of the school, I’ll pick up on insensitive topics being brought up by people. People who have no authority to even be talking about said issue.

I’ll also hear the occasional use of the n-word by people who should not be using it as well.

Overall, insensitive things being said by people who do not understand why saying such things are an issue in the first place. Things that have been normalized and taught to be okay.

While I personally cannot speak on using the ‘n-word’, I can speak on the ‘b-slur’ used against Hispanics and Latinos derogatorily.

It can be a normalized word to use. A normalized word that people will not know the history or context too. Something they hear their friends use. Something they think is a cool word.

At the end of the day using the word is still racist.

That doesn’t mean the person is a racist and hates all Hispanics and Latinos for using the word, but that doesn’t mean using said word wasn’t racist in itself.

People can unlearn that behavior and people can change.

But that’s a problem in itself. The fact that people will be so taken back by you calling the word they use racist, that they’ll instantly defend themselves and get mad.

You aren’t the racist one. I would believe you aren’t anyways. But again, the term you just used IS.

Unfortunately, with this insensitivity being common, it changes the notion for me that this generation is moved past racism.
Clearly, if I’m hearing conversations like this in the hallways, it’s more common that people may think it is, no matter how ‘woke’ we think we are.

But that’s not the extreme that I have seen or experienced. Not even close.

A lot of popular media figures online say that we have moved passed racism. That racism died along with the past and that Martin Luther King Jr. And Rosa Parks cured racism! There are just a few bad apples in the bunch that might sometimes do bad things but that’s okay because it doesn’t represent the majority of us.

I disagree. Extremely.

I have talked to a group of my generation which had extremely racist ideologies. EXTREMELY racist ideologies. Friends of people who were seemingly nice, telling me that these sorts of ideas are closer than people might like to believe.

This generation has moved past racism despite me hearing from these people of my generation that they think minorities are inherently more violent. Racism is something long dead in our society despite them using minority classes as derogatory words. As something dirty. Racism can’t even be a thing anymore despite them even denying and downplaying the “agreed upon racist time” in American history. The small dent in our nation’s history.

It just showed me that despite how ‘woke’ we think we are, how ‘woke’ other generations think we are. We aren’t. There is just as much resistance from one side as the other. And one who is much more problematic than the other.

For me, the way we can move past racism is to learn about it first. The past directly affects the future. If we still say that slavery or Jim crow laws or the War on Drugs or the many other instances of racism in our history, and the history of others, is just a bad thing that happened that we have tackled, then it just creates more of a problem.

It creates the problem of not teaching this history so that it never repeats again and creates an even bigger issue of people thinking that since we’re ‘better’ now that everything is all right.

To progress, we need to know what we need to progress from. Creating an empathetic and well-meaning, well-rounded society will benefit everyone and the future progressive generations to come.

And of course, at the end of the day, there are amazing, great people in my generation who are not on either side of the scale. Who understands and sees the world around them and how it got to where it is now. Who recognizes that there can be a better world than the one we have now.

We don’t need to start at rock bottom, we have our foot perfectly through the right door. We just need to walk through it.