Either you’re with us or you’re Against Us Throughout Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists, he attempts to describe a new form of racism that has emerged in today’s society. Bonilla-Silva refers to this new style of racism as, “color-blind racism. ” During the Civil Rights Era and other previous time periods, racism was characterized by brutal physical, verbal, and emotional battering of minority races through actions such as Jim Crows Laws and other inhumane acts.
However, unlike violent-forms of racism that were practiced years ago, this new-age “color-blind racism” incorporates subtle, institutional, and apparently nonracial practices (Silva 2010). In order to counter this new form of racism in society, Bonilla-Silva explains how civilians need to become actively involved in the fight against color-blind racism. In order to actively fight against color-blind racism Silva distinguishes the difference between a non-racist and an anti-racist and the certain implications and repercussions that accompany each label.
Although the transformation from a non-racist culture, to a new, anti-racist community could produce outcomes that solve racism altogether, with this transformation comes a major moral dilemma: whether receiving white privileges outweighs the moral obligation of promoting equality in society. Through this interpretation of the text, I will try to rationalize what it means to be an anti-racist in today’s world and Bonilla-Silva’s call for social movement, along with the responsibilities and moral obligations that are incorporated with both.
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Bonilla-Silva suggests that a major change, from non-racists to anti-racists, needs to take place in order for color-blind racism to diminish in society. The distinction between a non-racist and an anti-racist is characterized by moral obligations and active participation in combating racism. Likewise, Bonilla-Silva suggests that being an anti-racist begins with understanding the institutional nature of racial matters and accepting this stand involves taking responsibility for your unwilling participation in these practices (Silva 2010).
One who claims to be anti-racist actively takes responsibility for their unwilling participation in these practices and beginning a new life committed to the goal of achieving real racial equality (Silva 2010). Bonilla-Silva suggests that the conversion to an anti-racist will be challenging because in order to fulfill the role, one is struck with a moral dilemma; whether receiving white privileges outweighs the moral obligation of equality in society. According to Bonilla-Silva, a non-racist is a person who does not actively combat against societal norms regarding race and privileges.
A non-racist is seen as a passive person who does not take a personal interest in combating the “new racism. ” A major problem in the author’s eyes is that white Americans are considered the dominant race in today’s society, and most people who belong to this group are unaware of the privileges that they receive just by being white. For instance, many white Americans gain special privileges regarding education, job opportunities, social contexts, and more. While these privileges positively influence whites, they also help to reinforce the racial barrier that exists in the United States today.
In Bonilla-Silva’s eyes, if the white society does not acknowledge the hidden privileges that they receive, and society continues to portray waves of color-blind racism, then societal norms related to color-blind racism will circulate within culture for ages. Bonilla-Silva states that a social movement needs to take place in order to debunk the “new racism” that America is facing today. To challenge societal norms, people need to refrain from using stereotypical white ideals to justify racial issues that arise throughout life. These interpretations are widely used by whites claiming to be non-racist.
Bonilla-Silva suggests that many non-racists’ often resort to particular frames, or sets paths for interpreting information, as a way to justify certain racial situations that appear in life. These frames include abstract liberalism, naturalization, cultural racism, and minimization of racism. Abstract liberalism incorporates concepts related to equal opportunity and choice in an abstruse way to justify racial experiences. For example, in regards to identifying people as “individuals” with “choices,” many non-racists fallback on the notion that people have the right of choosing to live in segregated neighborhoods.
Next, the naturalization frame allows whites to blame certain racial matters as natural occurrences. Within this frame, many whites claim that the segregation that is seen today is natural and a result of people gravitating toward likeness (Silva 2010). According to Bonilla-Silva, this frame can be characterized by the saying, “that’s the way it is. ” Another frame, or path, used by many non-racist whites is cultural racism. This frame relies on culturally based arguments to explain the current societal status of minorities. For instance, many hites resort to the claim that, “Mexican’s do not put enough emphasis on education, that is why they are behind in society” (Silva 2010). This particular frame allows for whites to highlight the mishaps and negative stereotypes about certain minority groups as their reason for not excelling in society, rather than the fact that minorities have been historically behind the dominant white race in aspects such as education, socio-economic status, occupations, and living conditions. The final frame that Bonilla-Silva uses to strengthen his argument is referred to as the minimization of racism.
This frame suggests that discrimination is no longer a major factor that impacts the daily lives of minorities. This concept incorporates the beliefs that racism is a thing of the past, and minorities are products of their own efforts and capabilities. These frames are used, in collaboration, to provide whites a way of expressing their beliefs about racial matters without coming off as demoralizing to minorities or flamboyantly racist. They also provide the justification that the racial inequality that occurs today is strictly logical, democratic, and non-racist.
In Bonilla-Silva’s eyes, once society, as a whole, deviates from using these frames, then our culture can begin to make the shift from non-racists to anti-racists. According to the author, American society needs to make this transformation from non-racists to anti-racists for a multitude of reasons. First, he suggests that this movement needs to take place in order to educate the black population on the aspects of color-blind racism, because this new form of racism has tinted blacks recognition of its existence.
He also suggests that the current group of anti-racists need to engage with all whites regardless of gender, socio-economic status, and educational status in order to gain a collectively larger group of followers. In turn, he suggests that power is in numbers, and with this power, anti-racists can begin challenging color-blind ideologies internally. Another reason for this movement that Bonilla-Silva points to is that fact that activists need to provide counter-arguments for the current color-blind frames that non-racist whites’ are using to justify racial scenarios.
Likewise, we need to counter-balance common white arguments including equal opportunity and affirmative action. A major issue within today’s society is that many whites firmly believe that discrimination during past and current times does not significantly impact the lives of minority groups, when in turn; this subtle discrimination enhances the privileges of the white race, while severely limiting minority’s privileges.
Furthermore, “Bonilla-Silva claims that the most important strategy for combating “new racism” is to become militant with it” (Silva 2010). The strategies that Bonilla-Silva proposes above to combat color-blind racism are all grounded on specific and plausible reasons and explanations. Bonilla-Silva states that in order for this movement to be effective, it must defile the domination that color-blindness has over our whole country. Also he suggests that the overall demeanor of whites regarding race related issues needs to be exposed and challenged.
Another motive for this anti-racist movement incorporates the idea that there should be a focus on white segregation and how this physical separation from minorities ultimately affects the white races’ values, beliefs, and emotions about race related matters. Finally, he states that in order for this movement to be successful in changing the cultural norm of color-blind racism in society, we need to challenge a position that might seem impossible to overcome, however it is the only way to genuinely achieve racial equality in future times.
After analyzing this book through readings, blogs, and class discussion, the moral dilemma of white privilege or equality has puzzled me for some time. Along with white privilege, I have been contemplating whether to classify myself as a non-racist or an anti-racist, and whether to join the social movement against color-blind racism that Bonilla-Silva claims needs to happen in order to defeat racism indefinitely. Before studying racism I never thought about the concept of white privilege and the tremendous influence it has on my life on an everyday basis.
After my analysis of the different components of a non-racist versus an anti-racist and the certain privileges that resonate within each category, I feel almost guilty referring to myself as a non-racist. However, after analyzing Racism without Racist’s explanation of anti-racism and claim for an anti-racist movement, I believe that I still consider myself a non-racist, contrary to the author’s wishes. In spite of Bonilla-Silva’s argument, I believe that I can still combat racism without necessarily taking an “active role. I am not currently taking an active role in this movement, however in the future; I believe that I could possibly take a passive role in regards to this movement. The transformation from “nonracist” to “antiracist”, that the author describes, I think is an aggressive approach that could potentially generate substantial positive results in regards to combating racism. However, I personally don’t believe that the only way to fight racism is to take a military-like approach against it and resort to an in-your-face attempt to flip societal norms.
Falling-back on a militant-style attack plot and fighting socially grounded powers could quite possibly work against achieving the collective goal of ending racism. In order to accomplish this idea, the anti-racist coalition (which is an extreme minority) would have to convert massive numbers of the non-racist majority to a belief system that fundamentally contradicts the basic roots of their current values.
Currently, I do not have an alternative solution to racism in America, however I do know that educating the population as a whole about this concept is a necessary step to accomplishing the overall goal. Through Bonilla-Silva’s distinction between non-racists and anti-racists, along with his call for a social movement against color-blind racism, I have determined that something has to be done about certain aspects of color-blind racism, such as the overall mindset of the American population.
Be that as it may, combating color-blind racism will be an almost impossible task to accomplish for that fact that it is very difficult to get people to buy into a motion that they themselves are not emotionally invested in. Until the American society can buy into the notion that color-blind racism is an actual cultural problem that is affecting minorities of all backgrounds, we will be a society filled with white privilege and subtle discrimination against non-whites. References Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo . 2010. Racism without Racists. Lanham, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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