"The greatest trick the devil ever
pulled was convincing the world
he didn't exist"
-Verbal Kent in "The Usual
Roots to the Unseen
The term ‘Institutionalized Racism’ (IR)
carries at once, associated
connotations both ominous and elusive.
If it were possible to comprehend, there is a sense that understanding would
merely illustrate the problem to be beyond the range of any one individual to
exert positive influence. Additionally, the very definition is largely subjective and
prone to constant change as many of the institutions in question seemingly
cater to increasingly diverse participants. IR is often subtle and in many
instances likely occurs without detection as it occupies space within perceived
positive changes that may only be an illusion.
Often Institutionalized Racism (IR) is the by-product of a collective aversion to change,
especially change that effects well established social practices and protocols. While
the discriminating traditions and practices of the past may be subject to more scrutiny,
there seems to be a stubborn sense of comfort in a system that seems to always find
"the best man for the job". It is often nothing written and nothing said...it is just
understood by all who desire to participate.
Within a noble nation founded upon just laws derived from consensus among the populace, it would
seem the inequities of discrimination could be permanently neutralized with a moderate degree of
concerted effort. If presumed automatic It is a type of naive' optimism functioning as the greatest
Perhaps there is a subconscious sense that in a relatively young nation there exists plenty of time to
fix any self-inflicted ailments that have surely not had the time to become inextricably entangled in the
tapestry of a dynamic society. Perhaps we failed to anticipate the commingling of diverse peoples
would awaken unknown facets in human nature, (historically repressed or ignored, in the absence of a
catalyst and/or point of reference).
In a melting pot with the potential for unprecedented contributions to all of humanity, and
beyond, diligence is required to identify and address the emergence of a more subtle
Commingled with the shallow roots of our noble traditions there also exists mutating
roots with twisted connections to a past long before the physical arrival of any
non-indigenous person to a new land. As cumulative creatures we seek to harness the
volatile forces of humanity in service to common destiny as great beauty or full
destruction hang in the balance
impediment when it postpones meaningful alterations in exchange for the
seemingly sweet rewards of progress perceived in the immediate. There is no
permanent fix absent full annihilation and the only thing requiring more effort
then the waging of violent conflict is the constant adjustments required to
nurture fully antithetical outcome
What is the role of the black person (or other person designated as a minority) in
perpetuating the existence of IR? Does the average minority employee find it easier
to follow the company edicts if delivered by a white supervisor as opposed to a
minority supervisor? Is there the perception among some black people that the
success of any given black person derives from the adoption of white protocols? If
this is "success" there would be little or nothing this designation would offer in the
way of something to which many black people would aspire.
What about the 'super-successful' (as in celebrity status) black person? While the black business man
may be subject to criticisms pertaining to alliance, does the black celebrity get "free-pass"? Perhaps it
is through celebrity the dreams of many are lived vicariously. Although likely the case across all facets
of society it becomes a problem if there is nothing perceived of worth in the spectrum between
in be the options on the spectrum between are not at
all subject to the notion of appeal simply because they
do not exist?!
poverty/obscurity and broad notoriety. Could
Quite Contrary to the notion of "sell-out" the successful black
person functions as a courageous pioneer in a young nation that
only recently discovered the existence of multiple dimensions
within human equality.
Ironically, it would seem changes relevant to addressing IR are often met with a similar degree of
reluctance from both the oppressor and the oppressed. Change threatens the status of the individual
who derives definition from the group in which he/she seems to have been so inextricably assigned.
Change is measured in terms of who has won or lost in the acquisition of material indicators
presumed to be evidence to the overall health of human equality-- and proclaimed necessary for the
happiness of the imagined grand-children of our great grand-children.
It takes equal participation from all involved parties to nurture IR and assure that
inequality thrives. In the arena of "the way things are" the white man may be
more qualified as a leader by virtue of his "whiteness" and this is a package we
all bought. As more people of color assume greater roles of leadership there
will come a time when the contributions of all interested persons will yield
unimagined benefits far surpassing a 'sum-of-all-parts' explanation...
It will be realized that human accomplishment consists of equally important contributions and
has no bounds to potential.
statistics fail to consider the whole
looking for what
Change threatens the status of the individual who derives definition from the group in which he/she seems to have been so inextricably assigned.