Sorry for rambling! Okay, so as a Latina, I feel like there's a lot of erasure of latinx, Asian, and native histories in favor of black history in media and schools. I also feel like, of the minorities, black struggles are more highlighted in the media. I was wondering if you see that as well or if I, as a Latina, feel like that because I'm too closely tied emotionally to my community. Black people deserve so much respect and love, I'm just afraid it's smothering that for other ethnic people.
I’ve heard many non-Black people of color address a feeling of a lack of representation when racial oppression is brought up. Apparently, there are many who feel as though they’re not getting enough attention during discussions about prejudice and systemic racism. I’ll tell you how I feel about it and how I perceive these allegations of under-representation:
There is a pyramid that the system has boxed each ethnic group in. This pyramid is entirely systemic, and I am in no way alleging that it is the natural order of things.
At the top of the pyramid, there are white people who are supposed to be the saints and the rulers. We all know that’s not true (we all know how horribly untrue that is), but systemically, white people are a majority of the ones in positions of power; from the White House and Wall Street, to movie stars and school teachers (and if there are people of color in those positions, which in no way means they’ve reached the top of the pyramid, only a handful have been spared becoming white-washed and obedient).
At the bottom of the pyramid lays Black people. Black people have faced mighty oppressions and continue to battle against them today. From mass incarceration (aka, slavery) and gentrification, to being called “
nigger” by an old white woman on the subway… Black people suffer the weight of oppressions also faced by those above them, who are other people of color.
Other people of color exist between the whites and the Black people, in the middle of the pyramid. While facing numerous oppressions, they also have several privileges as non-Black people: lighter skinned people of color and people of color from “developed” countries have privileges over Black folk, that’s a no brainer, we see it all the time. It doesn’t mean they aren’t effected by systemic racism. It doesn’t mean that Latinx people aren’t impacted when their neighborhoods are gentrified, it doesn’t mean they don’t count when they’re thrown into prison for minor crimes just like their Black cousins. These facts merely inspire human and civil rights movements that address race-related oppressions.
If Black people are at the bottom of the pyramid, then acquiring justice and equality for them would mean acquiring justice and equality for all those above them. It’s a trickle-up theory.
Black people are attacked heavily by systemic racism, oppressions tear Black people to shreds every day. That’s because, unfortunately, as residents of the middle of the pyramid, non-Black people of color tend to look down on Black people too. They do this to gain favor from white people, who are at the top, and have the ability to shift those in the middle. For example, Asian people have been in a position in which they are partially respected by white people. This may have been due to allying with the United States on different levels, not now we see that shifting. There’s tension between Washington D.C. and China and North Korea which is bound to cause bigots of the States to target Asians more than they had in recent history. Of course, they have and still do face racism now, but they also see privileges as non-Black people of color that Black people do not have the luxury of experiencing. Once Asian people are out of the favorite-category of white folks, another group is bound to take their place and is eager to do so. White people love tokens…
The system attacks Black people because other races are too busy trying to gain the respect of white folk (which many do by acting on prejudices against Black people, something Jews had done in the past to gain some privilege too… privilege that is now being compromised). Whites have mastered the skill of systemic racism, which includes internalized racism and prejudice from non-Black people of color to Black people. A lot of non-Black people of color ignore the logic that says that if they ignore the attacks on Black people, it gives white people a chance to oppress them too. The trickle-up theory works both ways: saving Black people will save everyone. Not saving Black people will doom everyone.
Too many non-Black people of color think whites will save them from their oppression via a ladder to the top of the pyramid. But there is no room for people of color at the top of the pyramid with whites…
What activists seek to do is remove the pyramid and get everyone on leveled ground: equality.
That’s why discussions of race seem to exclude other people of color, because when Black lives matter, all lives will matter too.