Feeling Despondent? Challenge Racism Where You See It - Part 1

Stephen Rockwell • 6 August 2019
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The Republican Party Stands Idly By While the Slaughter Continues

After the terrifying and somber weekend, we are left to question what to do?  We have held marches, organized moms, students, and every conglomeration of people to protest and lobby lawmakers and the President to pass sensible gun control legislation.  The House of Representatives, to its credit passed a number of measures, even some bi-partisan laws.   

The politicians of the Republican Party have either hid from the airwaves or offered absolutely disproven answers to our gun problem.  You've heard them: prayer in schools, violent video games, and mental illness (an excuse only reserved for the white shooters).   Mitch McConnell has utterly dismantled the functioning of the republic in every way imaginable, not the least of which in blocking the will of overwhelming majority of the American people in passing gun control measures. 

Here is the legislation that McConnell is blocking (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/08/04/mass-shootings-what-congress-doing-gun-control/1916451001/):

-H.R. 8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
This bill would prohibit most person-to-person firearm transfers unless a background check can be conducted, aiming to close a potential loophole allowing the transfer of firearms without a background check at gun shows or between individuals.

-H.R. 1112 Bipartisan Background Checks Act
This bill would extend to at least 10 days the amount of time firearms dealers must wait for a response from the background check system before the sale can proceed. Currently, they can make the sale if they haven’t received a response in three days.

-"Red-flag" laws
<These> allow family members or law enforcement to limit a person's access to firearms if they are deemed a potential threat to the public.

-Assault weapons bans
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, lapsed in 2004. This legislation, among other provisions, banned the manufacture and sale to civilians of assault-style weapons and certain "large-capacity" ammunition magazines for guns, Congress has attempted to pass new bans on assault-style weapons, but the legislation has picked up little traction in the Republican-controlled Senate.

What Else Can We Do? Fight White Supremacy Where We Find It

While we must keep after the advocacy efforts around gun control and vote out every legislator who refuses to do the will of the people, there is much for us to do on the root of the problem of hate that is not necessarily caught up in the political process.   

We are not powerless.  Trump serves as the inspiration to white supremacists from New Zealand to El Paso and has to be looked at as a major causal factor in the increase of white supremacist terrorism.  Trump has given license to racism, but this is going to require all of us to put it back in the bag, especially through white people challenging other white people where they see racism expressed or supported.  For as dizzying as it can be to understand where to begin with norms of decency broken every day in a seemingly bottomless pit of narcissistic depravity that is Donald Trump, we have to challenge in our communities and workplaces, amongst our friends and acquaintances, on social media and in our politics. 

There are collective displays of anti-racism happening around in communities around the country this week.  These are wonderful opportunities to build a collective voice for equality and to reclaim the public square for equality and goodness.  

There are also more intimate challenges required with communities and within families.  These are difficult, but I believe they must be done.  Tolerating intolerance let it fester and ultimately spread to others like a virus.  The offhand comment unchallenged supports a racist ideology that builds within a person, a family, and a community.  The racist social media post is there for lots of folks in the social network to see it.  Make sure people see it challenged.  

We recently had issues of implicit bias and racism in our neighborhood.  Here's how I chose to challenge a handful of my neighbors.  A neighbor relayed a story of feeling intimidated by 3 African American young males walking in our very diverse community.  That needed a challenge and perhaps some education on implicit bias.  I offered the following:

"The story relayed is the textbook example of implicit bias, whether based on age, race, or both.   The sad truth is that most of us experience this type of implicit bias frequently.  I don't think we should run from these discussions as they are important to have.   I would encourage us to have a session on implicit bias in a future OFC meeting.  Unlearning racism and other forms of bias is an ongoing process and having a face to face training and discussion may help our neighborhood better come to terms with some of these issues.

 A couple of useful resources on implicit bias:

-  Definition and meaning of implicit bias:  http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/ 

-  A tool for testing ourselves on implicit bias can be found here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Notice the effort here to provide resources and create a learning opportunity.  There are those who needed more direct challenges because they were more overtly racist, denying the existence of racially biased incidents and microagressions in the neighborhood.   Understanding how forceful a challenge to make is important.  There is a difference between someone who has a blindspot and a growth opportunity versus someone who is willfully ignorant and aggressively promoting a racist view.  I'll get into those cases in part 2.  

 

Gun Control Politics Racial Justice #whitesupremacy #guncontrolnow