It doesn't mean what some might try to say...
The ascent and nomination of Kamala Harris is a significant moment in U.S. history. It is a monumental moment as much as the election of Barack Obama, if not more. Her nomination as a Vice Presidential candidate is undoubtedly unchartered territory worthy of recognition. There has never been a moment like this for women of color in the United States. We are sure that her every move is being watched, recorded and analyzed in ways that she never even imagined. The significance of this moment should be celebrated.
However, with regard to the current state of racism in the United States, this is neither a barometer on racism nor a representation of a change in racist views in the United States. If we’ve learned anything over the past twelve years, racism in the United States is as strong as ever. Racism in the United States was not eradicated or for that matter even changed with the election of the country’s first and only Black president, Barack Obama.
Don’t even consider starting a conversation about how much we have changed in this country because of an election. To even consider that a significant moment in race relations would be disingenuous. If anything else, this in itself very well may be a catalyst to bring about even more racism and sexism.
Don’t get me wrong. This is also a moment that I believe will inspire countless youth and future generations around the world. It is unquestionably BIG. She represents multiple ethnicities as well as women. This is about more than Black and White. It is more than women. It is more than so many moments that have come before it. And should she be elected along with Joe Biden, what a glorious day it will be in the history of a country that has shunned people of color and women since its very beginning.
That will be all good and great, but the truth is, this country is in the midst of a racial reckoning and coming to terms with an exhaustive racist history that we hope has no return. While our greatest dreams might see racism fall into a black hole, our biggest dreams couldn’t feel farther away. The gap in racist views seems to have grown exponentially. It almost feels like racism itself is the black hole, growing and swallowing up everything around it.
The past twelve years and 2020 alone, have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that racism is real and alive. There isn’t a reasonable person alive in this country who would truthfully say that racism does not continue to plague our collective daily lives. It may not exist in everyone’s heart, but it most certainly exists in one way or another in our lives.
So, don’t even dare to talk about how this changes the rhetoric on racism in the United States. We’ve worked too hard for too long to play these games of making significant individual achievement mean significant change in our overall outlook on race. We cannot continue to place individual achievement at the center of any conversation on racism. Let’s simply keep the center of the racism conversation on its continued existence and how do we change the course of racism worldwide. We must keep the racism conversation focused on our corporate policies, educational system, government and judicial system. We have to continue to callout racism at every turn. It isn’t enough to elect someone of color. It isn’t enough for the majority of the population to be above the poverty line. Racism is blind to how much money someone has in their bank account. It isn’t enough to only talk about economics. People of color aren’t asking for a handout. It isn’t enough until everyone has the same opportunity to live.