Letter: It's not enough to be "not-racist"
To the Editor:
I find it hard to believe the claim Weiland Ross made in "Don't cast stones at the rest of us," (July 3, 2020): "I am not a racist and do not know personally any racists." In order to thrive, systems of oppression rely on folks who deny their own racism and the racism of those around us. It's hard to believe that any reasonable person would not applaud state Rep. Kathleen James and Bennington-4 district candidate Seth Bongartz's letter to the editor on June 12, 2020, "Committing to equality."
Mr. Ross' piece dangerously pulls at strings to try and sooth what biases he might have and what guilt he might feel. Anyone who watches the video of George Floyd being murdered, who knows Breonna Taylor was killed in her sleep, and who knows that black people are killed in this country at disproportionate rates, would not agree that "Legal and institutional racism has been outlawed by many acts of Congress."
In "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Taylor speaks to the origins of policing including "nineteenth-century slave patrols" and " `Black Codes' a series of laws, rules, and restrictions imposed only on African Americans." To think that police institutions born out of slave patrols could not in modern-day still be acting out racial policing ignores a whole history of this country, one Mr. Ross has been able to ignore.
Mr. Ross references many readings to support his viewpoint that racism is over. Instead, I recommend reading these works that contend that the work to eliminate racism is far from over. Here are just a few: "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X.Kendi, "The Fire Next Time" by James Baldwin, "Sister Outsider" by Audre Lorde, and any book Angela Davis has written.
I would like to end with a quote from "How to Be an Antiracist" (which is for sale at Northshire Bookstore):
"The opposite of "racist" isn't "not-racist." It is "antiracist." What's the difference? ... One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an antiracist One either allows racial inequalities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequalities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of `not racist.'"
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