As Valentine's Day will soon come flying around the corner in a few days, I wish I could tell you that this week I want to talk about being a hopeless romantic in a social media world, or something snuggly and soft like reflections on broken hearts and how there are always more fish in the sea.
But I'm not.
However, if you'd like to talk about my love life some other time, I'm an open book.
Instead, as we ring in Black History Month, I'm going to talk about race and more importantly the permeation of white supremacy in American culture and why, as a human being, I think you should care about it. Frankly, it may leave you feeling a bit off kilter, unexpectedly vulnerable, and unsure of what to do next, and if that's the case, then I've done my job well.
Since this discussion could be had in so many different ways and approached from such a wide variety of different angles, I've decided to make a list of 5 reasons why, actually, everything is about race and why we need to learn to accept it. I hope you enjoy it--after all, there's nothing I love more on a weekday morning then walking on sunshine... and waking up to white supremacy!
1. Our nation was founded on the back of native extermination, developed through racial slavery, and established as a white supremacist colonial power. Whether or not you believed the melting pot or tossed salad arguments in high school, the modern reality is that some carrots don't want some beets and croutons in the salad at all. We find ourselves presupposing race has no place in every discussion about the present and future of the United States despite it being at the core of its entire past.
2. Racism affects every aspect of life for millions of Americans everyday. White supremacy is more than just pictures of the KKK burning crosses in Black families' yards "back in the day"--it's a set of underpinning legal, economic, military, cultural, and educational institutions that continues to insure the maintenance of wealth and power for a select few across the globe. It can be found everywhere, from a gossip magazine in the grocery checkout line (see white Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte wearing a grill and being complimented on how the handsome fella manages to pull it off... see 17-year-old Black shooting victim Trayvon Martin wearing a grill and having his death justified for perpetual thuggery) to TV (see killer of Trayvon Martin become an American celebrity while NFL cornerback Richard Sherman renounced as an unprofessional nigger for letting his passion and humanity cast a shadow on his superior athletic ability-- silly Black man, confidence is for killers).
3. Wealth inequality is intrinsically related to race and economic opportunity, educational disparities, and the incarceration of minorities. If we're serious about changing the disproportionate socioeconomic status quo for poor Blacks, Latinos, and other minority groups, then we need a President to mention race in their State of the Union other than pandering to patriotic sentiment by listing off our identities and announcing we're all the same. Our opportunities are not, are education is not, our safety is not, our futures are not, and this is all irrevocably tied to race. You can only hide so many stories under the rug until you start tripping over them.
4. Acknowledging white supremacy, white privilege, and the role of race in our cultural discourse is not racist; rather, denial and inaction are the crux of racial injustice. Thus, acknowledging injustice isn't enough--pushing back against privilege is taking root in some white activist communities but more needs to be done.
5. When a society consistently tells you that not only does your race make you not beautiful or intelligent, but also your body is disposable and your existence is insignificant, how can one expect us to stay forever silent? How is this often times all-consuming racialized existence one we can overcome without calling things out for how they are, have been, and will continue to be until we demand more than rhetoric-- action? Race is irrelevant only to those who have never had to question their relevance in this world because of their race.
So, next time someone asks why it's "always about race with *insert non-white identity* people", remind them: how could it not be?
This article originally appeared as an abridged version in The Tufts Daily column Politically Erect.