The Language of Racism - Angelfire
Individuals move on many levels in our complex society: each of us is called to speak and act in many different settings. In each case may we speak and act according to our competence and as the Gospel bids us. With this as our prayer, we refrain from giving detailed answers to complex questions on which we ourselves have no special competence. Instead, we propose several guidelines of a general nature.
The difficulties of these new times demand a new vision and a renewed courage to transform our society and achieve justice for all. We must fight for the dual goals of racial and economic justice with determination and creativity. Domestically, justice demands that we strive for authentic full employment, recognizing the special need for employment of those who, whether men or women, carry the principal responsibility for support of a family. Justice also demands that we strive for decent working conditions, adequate income, housing, education, and health care for all. Government at the national and local levels must be held accountable by all citizens for the essential services which all are entitled to receive. The private sector should work with various racial communities to insure that they receive a just share of the profits they have helped to create.
Globally, we live in an interdependent community of nations, some rich, some poor. Some are high consumers of the world's resources; some eke out an existence on a near starvation level. As it happens, most of the rich, consuming nations are white and Christian; most of the world's poor are of other races and religions.
Concerning our relationship to other nations, our Christian faith suggests several principles. First, racial difference should not interfere with our dealing justly and peacefully with all other nations. Secondly, those nations which possess more of the world's riches must, in justice, share with those who are in serious need. Finally, the private sector should be aware of its responsibility to promote racial justice, not subordination or exploitation, to promote genuine development in poor societies, not mere consumerism and materialism.
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Crude and blatant expression of racist sentiment, though they occasionally exist, are today considered bad form. Yet racism itself persists in convert ways. Under the guise of other motives, it is manifest in the tendency to stereotype and marginalize whole segments of the population whose presence perceived as a threat. It is manifest also in the indifference that replaces open hatred. The minority poor are seen as the dross of a post-industrial society -- without skills, without motivation, without incentive. They are expendable. Many times the new face of racism is the computer print-out, the graph of profits and losses, the pink slip, the nameless statistic. Today's racism flourishes in the triumph of private concern over public responsibility, individual success over social commitment, and personal fulfillment over authentic compassion. Then too, we recognize that racism also exists in the attitude and behavior of some who are themselves members of minority groups. Christian ideals of justice must be brought to bear in both the private and the public sector in order that covert racism be eliminated wherever it exists.
The new forms of racism must be brought face-to-face with the figure of Christ. It is Christ's word that is the judgment on this world; it is Christ's cross that is the measure of our response; and it is Christ's face that is the composite of all persons but in a most significant way of today's poor, today's marginal people, today's minorities.
More specifically, the advent of a growing diversity in the United States, and worldwide, is an important impetus for psychologists, counselors, and other helping professionals to develop competencies to work with these different communities. For the future, diversity is a compelling need which psychologists and helping professionals need to meet. History is an equally important justification and one that is sometimes overlooked or not focused upon because it may be deemed as not relevant to multicultural competencies. Yet history, and a thorough understanding of it as it pertains to diversity and multiculturalism, helps us understand why we are discussing and learning about diverse others at all. As I just noted, the United States has always had diversity and diverse individuals and communities. I believe it would be safe to assume that there were women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and gay and lesbian people throughout the history of the United States. What history allows us to understand better is why this diversity is not reflected in our history texts, our cultural knowledge, and our important institutions such as law and education. What we can usually learn from our uncovering of these diverse histories is the ways in which these peoples and communities were segregated, isolated, and marginalized. And the ways in which these diverse communities were disregarded and invalidated helps us to understand how these problems still persist today and how these issues may manifest in an individual’s worldview. For helping professionals, deciphering, uncovering, and then connecting these historical and systemic issues to the client’s presenting concerns, and linking them to how the client will become better, is an integral aspect of multiculturalism. History and an analysis of these dynamics allow us to introduce topics such as privilege, power, exclusion, marginalization, and resilience. All of these topics, which will be covered later in this course, are pertinent in the ways in which know and do not know about culturally diverse others, our biases and stereotypes, and our assumptions in our work within these communities.