It seems silly to say, but institutional racism is a reality. It’s alive and well in our politics, our churches, our businesses, and in every part of our culture. If institutional racism is not a reality, why would white America fear being a minority? Besides, institutional racism goes deeper than color of skin. It is center on color, gender, sexuality, religion, and more. To claim otherwise would indicate we’re either blind, ignorant, or just happy we’re not the ones being discriminated against. You see, to truly grasp the reality of racism, and how it’s deeply embedded in our culture, we must first admit being a racist. This is hard for many, even those who are open to others. We all claim being “open minded,” but being open minded has nothing to do with the core realities of racism.
When we look at our upbringing we should acknowledge we were all raised racist. We have been taught to fear, or hate, those who look different. We fear those who are different from our family. This teaching comes from more than our parents. If we honestly look closely at culture, we see it in everything around us – from TV, to Movies, to stories shared in the privacy of your home, to the times we spent making fun of others when we thought no one was listening. To honestly express we have all told that off joke, the one where one race is insulted, hurt, or killed, and laughed. Those jokes, those words expressed to us when we were young, echo in our hearts, and distort our spirits. We all did it, in fact I’m of the mind that if anyone told they never had a racist thought, I would question their honesty.To tackle institutional racism, we first need to address our personal racism. I did, and to be honest with you I still do. For many of my formative years I was told that “Blacks” can’t be trusted. I was taught to fear, and not trust, any African American. I was told “whites” could never truly be friends with them, to not see them as humans – for me to move ahead and see people as people, I first needed to address the racism I was taught, stand against it, and be honest it happened. Because, if we truly face those demons, those demons of hate, those demons of racism, we can start moving forward. If we are unable to address our individual racism, we will never move past racism as a culture. You see, for the culture to change, individuals need to address the internal demon or racism.