Race and Racism are Deeply Rooted

Race and racism are deeply rooted in history and manifest currently in a self-perpetuating structure: systemic racism, better known as White Supremacy. In the 1600s the concept of race was socially constructed by whites as a political and economic strategy to oppress non-whites (Hatch 2015 p. 1).

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Critical race theorists point to the connection of the construction of race and unjust policies and how these approaches are intended to create racial hierarchies and ideologies to justify white supremacy. If it were not for the history and current structure of white supremacy which dictates privilege and power of individuals within the society of the United States, there would be no reason or motivation for racializing groups of people. Racism is both “overt and institutionalized, manifested both as deliberate acts by individuals and as unplanned systemic outcomes. Identity politics. The insidious nature of racism is apparent in the way that many Americans, especially white Americans, are often unaware of the harsh realities of our country’s history and current problems related to race, and the advantages gained through their privilege. While white supremacist groups and overt racists are still currently spreading hatred, millions of well meaning Americans perpetuate white supremacy through their complicity (Public Tail wags the dog p.2).

People of Color have been strong leaders in the resistance, offering valuable insight into strategies against oppressive and racist ideologies, discourses and policies as well as being catalysts to social and political activism during movements for liberation (CRT). In the Case of Wei, we see an example of a Person of Color who is deeply affected by racism and other forms of oppression but chooses to resist in subtle but powerful ways, despite their circumstances which create limitations on their individual power and agency. Wei is a non-binary identifying 16-year-old international adoptee from China. They have been raised with their biological sister by white, middle-class, educated “liberal parents. Wei is surrounded by a community of mostly white, middle-class Christian conservatives and has been struggling for a couple of years with being a racial minority and depression.

After one year of therapy with a queer, multiracial, cis-female therapist at a community health center, Wei abruptly stopped attending sessions despite the continual decline of their mental health within the past year. The primary purpose of this paper is to explore the history of racism and its current manifestations and effects systemically, including cultural, political, economic, and social elements. Another aim is to identify these matters in relation to the individual sociocultural locations of Wei, their former therapist, and myself as Wei’s hypothetical therapist. Finally, included will be a discussion of the factors related to racism within our individual lives, the location and agency context, and within the therapeutic relationship.

Currently and throughout history, institutions have utilized hegemonic discourses and ideologies to uphold structural racism, which enables political leaders (mostly white men) to control the distribution of social, economic, and political power (CRT). The discursive and institutional elements of race and racism shape our social and political structures through the power the gain (Glenn). One example is the law, which is especially problematic because they are proponents of colorblind policies and practices which undermines and denies the history of white supremacy and its current manifestation. Colorblind ideology is founded on the false notion that race is inherent. This is convenient for legal institutions which are largely white because they can then use their argument as a way to excuse the lack of policies which would work to undo systemic advantages. Instead, they deny that there are still problems with racial inequality because of some minor changes in the law supposedly intended to benefit minorities but often lead to favorable outcomes for whites (CRT).

Despite the fact white settlers in the United States employed different tactics to control distribution of resources for different groups, the underlying motive was control which was harnessed through both overt forms of racism such as violence as well as more subtle forms. These actions have continued to occur throughout history and have all contributed to what Glenn identifies as “internal colonialism, racial formation, and racialized social systems (pg. 16). Smith ____ describes “Three Pillars of White Supremacy to identify the mechanisms utilized to exploit and violate various racialized groups and the specific benefits gained through those strategies. One of the most well-recognized is the exploitation of blacks through slavery; this has become the foundation of capitalism and is currently still present in the prison industrial complex, a less well known fact. The major impact on Native Americans was the invasion and theft of their land through genocide, which continues today but more subtly. Finally, throughout history Asian Americans have been labeled as foreign, exotic others, thus instilling in Americans a fear of other peoples diluting American culture; this fear has evolved into deep racism and reinforced our justification for going to war in foreign countries in order to steal resources.

Despite the fact white settlers in the United States employed different tactics to control distribution of resources for different groups, the underlying motive was control which was harnessed through both overt forms of racism such as violence as well as more subtle forms. These actions have continued to occur throughout history and have all contributed to what Glenn identifies as “internal colonialism, racial formation, and racialized social systems (pg. 16). Smith ____ describes “Three Pillars of White Supremacy to identify the mechanisms utilized to exploit and violate various racialized groups and the specific benefits gained through those strategies. One of the most well-recognized is the exploitation of blacks through slavery; this has become the foundation of capitalism and is currently still present in the prison industrial complex, a less known fact. The major impact on Native Americans was the invasion and theft of their land through genocide.

Finally, throughout history Asian Americans have been labeled as foreign, exotic others, thus instilling in Americans a fear of other peoples diluting American culture; this fear has evolved into racism and reinforced our justification for going to war in foreign countries in order to steal resources.

Although these strategies to rationalize violence and exploitation do differ and currently manifest in different ways, they share some commonalities. First, as Smith described, the specific ways in which groups have been racialized were chosen for potential benefits to colonizers which work together to further create a division of power. Colonialism, according to Glenn __, is an ongoing structure; “the logic, tenants, and identities engendered by settler colonialism persist and continue to shape race, gender, class, and sexual formations into the present (p.4).

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