Why it's OK to Admit if You are Racist

Op-Ed by PM Beers
May 29, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Everyone has different definitions for words. Communication is complex and we often misunderstand one another. I want to clarify what I mean when I use the word “racism.” For most good hearted, well intentioned people, the word “racism” or “racist” means “this taboo thing that I am not.” But I’m talking about structural racism, which is defined by researchers as,

“Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics — historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal — that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy — the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab and other racially oppressed people.

Structural Racism encompasses the entire system of white supremacy, diffused and infused in all aspects of society, including our history, culture, politics, economics and our entire social fabric. Structural Racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism — all other forms of racism (e.g. institutional, interpersonal, internalized, etc.) emerge from structural racism.”

As you can tell, it’s almost impossible to escape racism in one way or another in the US. But the first step in putting a stop to racism, is acknowledging it’s existence in the very structure of our society and our personal lives.

To me, admitting to participating in racism means “I am human and therefore am inherently flawed. Perfection is something no person can possibly attain. I don’t want to be racist and admitting that I am racist to whatever very small degree makes it easier for me to realize more quickly when I’ve done something that oppresses other people.”

It’s OK to admit we are not perfect. It doesn’t hurt at all to admit you are flawed and that you’re trying to do better. It’s OK to have compassion and empathy. It’s OK to be a good hearted person who has respect for other peoples’ feelings. It’s OK to admit if you have participated in racism, you don’t want to participate in it anymore, and you are trying to do better.

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