Reflections on the Modern Fight for Racial Justice

I can only speak from my perspective through an American lens, but I am aware that racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism and all -isms and phobias persist and create false realities globally. Nonetheless, I think we can agree that on a global scale there has been one group that has profited from their colonialism and domination. I want to put a disclaimer that I do not agree with generalization and/or spreading hate/violence to anyone in any shape or form. I am done giving power to the victimization game, but history is not going to change and what is happening is sadly not surprising and I want to share my point of view on a few things. My thoughts are jumbled and I am still in the process of learning myself. Please do your own research, listen to stories, read, form your own opinions, and start uncomfortable conversations. 

On Companies During the Fight for Racial Justice

Companies need to stop superficially stating they support the Black Lives Matter movement just for good publicity and ranking. This absolvement does not cut it when internally they have a lot of restructuring to do. Companies need to stop rebranding and dismantle their whole structure, to begin with. This is a prime time since COVID-19 already forced a lot of voluntary and/or involuntary change. A lot of companies seem to be making very powerful statements about standing by #BLM, however, why is it taking until now for them to finally take this course of action? I refuse to believe that they have been blind in their hiring process. We need to question their intentions.

The truth is that ALL industries typecast through implicit bias. They have already predetermined which roles are acceptable for certain types of people. Every time I apply for a job and get asked about my race (i.e. “Are you Hispanic?”), which is then followed by a statement to avoid legal action stating they do not discriminate, it makes my blood boil. If you truly want to get rid of discrimination bias, get rid of these irrelevant questions altogether. Companies PROFIT from diverse numbers because they can then positively support their claims of  “activism” and “inclusion” to better their chances of being awarded private and government grants. When companies say “we are diverse”, but all the POC they hire are in cultural or Latinx/Asian/Black divisions that concerns me. I want to see more diversity in the control room. I’m tired of seeing the same people in leadership positions. These individuals are constantly recycled between major companies in executive positions and the board room. When you have a dominant group of people in “higher” positions, it will reflect throughout the whole organization. 

We need to become more conscious and aware of the companies we continue to support and finance. We can find alternatives and support POC businesses or start demanding active change from big organizations. Remember the consumers hold the power since demand is what drives supply and consumerism is what drives capitalism. We need to start calling corporations out and demanding answers as to why we didn’t get a position when our interviews and qualifications were high. This will benefit you for future interviews and can shed light on their continued implicit bias. It is not ok that white applicants who are 1% more than ordinary are praised, but POC, especially black, latinx, and indigenous, have to be 200% more than extraordinary to even be noticed. That is racism. I challenge companies during their rehiring process to change the requirements and format of applications. Start prioritizing talent and ideas and stop requiring experience and education from prestigious institutions that are implicitly racist, sexist, and classist. 

We have to realize that we live in a monopolized country where the white voice is the majority in leading corporations. It is disconcerting when we start realizing that companies profiting from black, latinx, indigenous, and asian cultures are mostly run by white individuals. Hipster, hip-hop yoga studios, POC nonprofits, for-profits, etc. have been or are at this very moment claiming to support Black Lives, but fail to even represent it themselves. I can state this from experience. It enrages and saddens me the most when I see companies with mission statements that thrive off of diversity or a certain culture that externally promotes diverse representation, but internally all their decision-makers are white. It is not a surprise that most places are run by them since they strategically placed themselves in higher positions, to begin with, throughout history. However, I do not care if you (white people) have a Ph.D. in Latin American studies and/or South Asian economics, it’s really cool that you show interest, but if you truly want to help these communities stop taking jobs and opportunities from these people who can and will provide a more saturated, creative, and honest perspective than you ever can. 

Racism lives in many forms, some more extreme than others, but the most dangerous aspects of systemic racism are the silent, elusive ones that we have become desensitized to. Systemic racism is economic, which means racism is a business that fuels capitalism. For people of color, the system works against us from the very beginning. This is what we need to be aware of and fight against. We live in a system that shows the values it places on certain lives. This system claims it does not have enough wealth or resources to pardon rent and/or medical expenses for financially disadvantaged people, but has an abundant wealth of resources to silence our expressions in our demand for racial justice. Police overtime, protest equipment, helicopters, etc. all get paid for without hesitation, but for all those individuals who barely survived COVID-19, here is your payment plan for your $100,000 debt to the hospital. That is racism. Hospitals go out to help protestors for good publicity and praise, but they don’t speak up about the enormous debt black and latinx people are blindly getting themselves into just trying to survive this pandemic. Debt is another way that we are enslaved and repressed. Whether we are trying to survive COVID or police brutality, these are both one and the same. It seems that when the conversation becomes economic, people get quiet. 

On Social Media During the Fight for Racial Justice

I feel very torn with this movement and its relationship to social media. I see the positive and negative sides to it. I can happily accept and support that social media has made it possible to spread the message in a more efficient and global way. However, sometimes it feels that with social media, there lives a pressure to be on-trend and a haunting veil of approval that exists within the app’s psyche through algorithms and the like.  

With social media, we have to remember that statements/posts made can still possibly and most likely are monetized. While I am joyous that activist groups and individuals are rightfully gaining exposure, I can’t help but still be cautious of potentially empty claims. There are public figures and companies that are taking advantage of this time to profit from the financial droughts they have been experiencing due to COVID-19. They understand that they benefit from being on-trend and create marketing strategies that reap financial results and up social following. In addition, while we consume like madmen on social media, let’s not forget that one of the biggest profiteers is a white man who has monopolized and invaded our privacy on almost all of our virtual forms of communication. A man who believes that a desensitized, narcissistic leader should be able to voice his dangerous opinions loudly and proudly. Fine, that is what he believes, but is that something that you or I want to support? Make your own opinion.

In a world where being vocal virtually is becoming more important than being present physically, I am concerned. People are so busy filming and reposting that I wonder whether they have their own purpose and well-informed thoughts on these matters. I understand, wholeheartedly, that everyone believes they have good intentions. I also believe that most everyone supports justice, whether through a lens of fear or acceptance, but we are so busy reposting these resources that we forget the important thing is to digest it ourselves and have our own truthful and thoughtful observations on materials we receive. This concept of blind sharing is dangerous because it gives room for miscommunication and misinformation. It is vital that we educate ourselves and then open safe spaces for honest and thought-provoking conversations. We need to make more active choices that will promote long-term change. We should not always seek what is fast and easy. These fast exchanges are effective in opening the door to new ideas and perspectives but need to be followed through with research, introspection, conversation, and action.

We have become very technologically advanced, but not always in the most crucial places. We need to recalibrate our focus and channel our efforts in the right directions. We should create apps for voting elections that have transparent profiles of runners and current congresspeople. We should create apps that allow people to choose where their tax dollars go. Like J Cole said in his second verse of BRACKETS, “…Let me pick the things I’m funding from an app on my screen; Better that than letting wack congressmen I’ve never seen; Dictate where my money go…” We need to demand breakdowns of the ingredients we are ingesting and fight for fair healthcare. The people and congresspeople should work together in determining what direction policy goes. Our opinions and reasoning should be the guiding force for politicians, not the other way around. We cannot forget that the power lies in the majority, not the few.

Everyone has their own way of protesting or gaining awareness, there is no one right way. However, we must not forget the grassroots way of doing things. Virtual representation is the dominating force in this era and can work to our advantage, but, we should also question the things we absorb. In my opinion, social media is a powerful tool, but it also reflects fast fashion. It keeps us in a removed, comfortable space. A tool that can easily be switched off when we are overwhelmed or made too uncomfortable. Please remember to do the work regardless. You do not need to prove anything to anyone. 

Closing Thoughts

For white allies, friends, and people in general, I want to ask a few questions to inspire introspection. Are you willing to let go of some luxuries and wealth to rightfully redistribute what your ancestors stole? Can you stop moving into predominantly black/latinx neighborhoods causing gentrification when you’re thinking about your convenience? Are you willing to be vocal about direct and indirect racism when faced with it in isolation? Are you more sensitive to the topic of racism because you are experiencing financial and social uncertainty due to COVID-19? Are you going to continue the work when your personal and professional life returns to some semblance of normalcy? Are you willing to honestly ask yourself whether a part of you fears losing the privileges you are accustomed to and have benefited from for so long? Think about it. 

We need to recognize, analyze, and liberate ourselves from personal and social conditioning. We have to dismantle this false notion of superiority. We do not need to demonize people or a group of people for power or gain. We have to find the root causes of lies and actively let go of limiting, undermining beliefs. We need to reframe our values and the way in which we see/act in the world. We need to face the fears we unconsciously live with and ask difficult questions. And yes, all of these things and so much more takes time. 

Yes, please vote and protest, but do it strategically. Know who and what you are standing up for/against. Form your own opinions, frame your own questions, challenge the system with educated thought and passion. Demand upfront transparency in elections. Require congresspeople and runners to make their resumes easily accessible, as evidence, to back up the claims they make on TV. Learn about where your tax dollars go and request more power in how you invest in this country. Challenge the corporate and working world to acknowledge their implicit bias and require them to take action. Demand political and social reform that prioritizes good quality of life for all people. We have rights that we aren’t even aware of and I am in the process of learning, asking, and sharing what they are. 

There are so many things I left unsaid, so many voices still unheard in this fight for justice, so many topics I did not cover, so many things I do not and will not know but I tried my best to offer my opinions, express how I feel, and hopefully inspire conversation. I commit myself to keep reading and learning from our ancestors, activists/artists today, and those to come. 

In the midst of COVID-19, massive unemployment, and the fight towards justice, there lives an amazing opportunity for reform and restructuring. We are tired of empty excuses and promises. We are tired of repeating the same conversation. We are not naive and we are aware that change will take time. I believe that no one needs to lose and that no one is inherently bad. We inherited these traumas, lies, conditions, and systems. We need to make conscious and active choices that do not perpetuate this limiting and unjust inheritance. Seeing so many people, from all backgrounds, join in solidarity fills me with more hope than ever before, but there are still more questions to ask. There are many things we can do so let’s open up the conversation. I shared some resources below. Please feel free to send me resources so that I can continue to learn and broaden my perspective.

By: Diomarys M

Some Resources & Reads

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