As we take the time to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us understand that racism is not only an action but furthermore, begins with a mindset. While it’s easy to point out the overt ways racism affects us collectively, it’s just as equally as important to highlight the more covert and insidious ways society adds to the dysfunction too. It’s a historically complex issue that can not be oversimplified with solely labeling an individual or group as “racist”. In the same regard I address narcissistic abuse, racism may very well be another form of it because it coincides with similar power and control dynamics.
Let us remember the root of any type of discrimination stems from fear. We fear what we don’t understand and in conjunction, our willful ignorance funnels out into fearful actions (or lack thereof).
In his words, “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” — Martin Luther King Jr. “Advice for Living” (1958)
Note the keyword here “communication” for it is the lack of not only communication but also lack of understanding that leads us to where we are at. We shame, shun, and suppress those who aren’t familiar to us. We ostracize them in communities because we ourselves do not want to be oppressed. We are afraid of empathizing with their pain because remembering how destructive we are as human beings terrify us. To control and to be controlled may very well be two sides of the same coin. One side aggressively dominates while the other passively submit.
That being said, I pose a few questions: In what way do you contribute to the abuse? Is it through offense we exert force because we are afraid of being deemed as ‘lesser than’ in another’s eyes? Is it by defensive reaction through staying silent and enacting complacency because we do not want to ‘rock the boat’? Why is it by witnessing another’s suffering we are so quick to make assumptions rather than look at things from their point of view?
Know that we are all interconnected for we all live, breathe, and create under the same sky. What affects someone else, should also affect you as well. Pay attention to your environment around you. Be mindful of the way you interact with it. Bring awareness to matters that may be uncomfortable for you. Make it your mission to break generational curses.
For Martin Luther King Jr’s dream is our dream too — “We cannot walk alone.”