We hear it all the time, claims such as “my grandfather said” or “my dad told me”. The words that follow those phrases some times have to do with preconceived notions that those who came before us formed in a good way. Some times those preconceived notions are bad especially when the person speaking is carrying on a legacy of racism. Down through the ages racism has been an issue in almost every society. There is a misconception that the problem has its seed and its growth in America, however racism in its many forms can be traced all the way back to biblical times and the Canaanites. No matter what the society, no matter where the location is racism has been alive and well in some form.
Is generational racism still an issue in America though? The answer when considering the facts is a resounding yes. Although, many White Americans would like to feel racism doesn’t exist or that African Americans like to play the race card, and sometimes there are instances where one does play the race card but that is not always the case. The fact of the matter is that racism does, and unfortunately due to generational racism, will continue to exist in America.
To understand generational racism one has to define what exactly it is. The definition is simple, generational racism is racism ideals that have been and continue to be handed down through the generations. Sadly this is practiced even today. One only needs to look as far as the local newscast to see that the ideals of the “fathers” are definitely visited by the “sons”. In places such as Dufar a country the size of Texas on the African continent, generational racism can be seen. Many of those who are the cause of the upheaval in this small country that is costing millions of lives are simply carrying on the beliefs of their fathers and their fathers before them.
So is it still a problem in America today? The answer is as close as the questions being asked about immigration and the state of the African American community at large. There are still White Americans who feel slighted by those who question the rights of minorities. Just the fact that we still continue to use the word “minority” is a sign that we, as a country, still make that separation that causes racism. And institutions like the media, the criminal justice system, and the educational system continue to perpetuate racist stereotypes throughout the country.
But where do we learn that behavior? Where does a small child who naturally does not know or distinguish the difference between someone’s race learn to see color? They learn from their parents and other family members, the first teacher they have, and the media. So if we ask the question is generational racism still a problem in America we need only look as far as a school yard and examine the difference between what a kindergartener says and what a fifth grade student says. We need only to look as far as the media, which constantly portrays African Americans in a negative way, especially in the news media. We learn two very important lessons in this observation, one, that racism is indeed generational and two, it’s a lesson learned in a very short amount of time.
How can we eliminate generational racism? That may be difficult. Generational racism is a tradition that is passed down from one generation to the next and like any family or societal tradition, it can be hard to get rid of. However there is hope, if awareness and constant attention is directed toward eliminating it instead of people saying it doesn’t exist or making excuses, such as claiming someone is playing the race card without looking into the real situation, generational racism can be overcome.