Question concerning race and class

Michael Eisenscher meisenscher at
Wed Jul 1 23:01:35 PDT 1998

At 10:44 AM 7/1/98 -0400, Wojtek Sokolowski wrote: [SNIP]
>So what a person like myself (an Eastern European immigrant of leftist
>persuasion) is supposed to do to 'end racism?' And while we are at that,
>can anyone describe to me how exactly the 'end of racism' looks like, so I
>can tell (instead of being told!) whether we have one or not?
>Best regards,
>Wojtek Sokolowski


Racism is deeply embedded in the institutions and culture, as well as the politics and economy, of this society. But unless you believe that people are genetically predisposed to be racist or that it is a natural and inevitable state of affairs, then the starting point for ending it is right where you are at -- in whatever place you work, live, socialize, or do politics. It begins when whites accept the responsibility for becoming intolerant of racist insensitivity in the world around them, when we challenge our coworkers and friends when the express or reflect their prejudices, when we make it clear that we do not appreciate humor at the expense of others or that relies on caricatures and stereotypes. It begins when we actively intervene in the institutions in which we function when they follow racially and ethnically conditioned ways of operating, and we use those expressions of institutional bias to actively organize others to join us in our opposition. It begins when we consciously seek out opportunities to make linkages between the concerns and interests of whites with those of other racial and ethnic groups, seeking to expand opportunities for communcation and understanding, for defining common ground on which we can unite against a common oppressor.

It begins when we become reliable, consistent allies of those who are the targets of racial exploitation and oppression, not out of charity or guilt, but out of our understanding of our common interests, and our commitment to a higher moral definition of the human spirit. It begins when we take the time to understand and appreciate cultures which are not our own, identifying within them both that which is unique and special, as well as that which reflects the universal human condition.

It starts when each of us refuses to be "a good German," when we refuse to go along to get along, when we refuse to plead either innocence or ignorance in the face of the degradation and violence foisted upon others by a system that claims to act in our names.

If we do this (all of us who claim to be anti-racist), we will not have to ask what the 'end of racism' looks like. We will be defining it for ourselves by what we do rather than what we say. And like any is and will continue to be a work in progress.

In solidarity, Michael

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