Three, Not So Little, Words
Today I want to look at three words and how we (mis)use them: Bigotry, Prejudice, and Racism.
It has become common to group everything under the term racism and I think we do ourselves a disservice, because we make it harder for people to see themselves in it. Sure all three of the above terms are interrelated, but they do not mean the same thing.
Bigotry is an intolerance of those different from one’s self. –“I don’t like/am scared of Black people”.
Prejudice, when it comes to people, is a judgement born of bigotry. “All Black people are thieves.”
Racism is an act, an abuse of power, born of bigotry, prejudice and privilege, and is often systemic. “Since all Black people are thieves, they clearly can’t help themselves, so you have to take every opportunity lock them up and throw away the key.”
So, to dislike me simply because I am Black is bigotry. To follow me around a store or assume the jacket I have on is stolen, even though you did not see me take it, is prejudice. To call the cops and try to have me locked up, based on your suspicions alone is racist, and the system that holds me to a different standard, and automatically believes your version of events over mine, is systemically racist.
While bigotry and prejudice can get on my nerves; they limit the person that has them more than they do me. They only concern me as they tend to lead to racism, which is intolerable, and is ultimately an act of privilege. Moreover, since most folks are not comfortable with, much less acknowledge their bigotry and prejudices; they tend to support structures that perpetuate discrimination for them.
So, to paraphrase my favorite Prime Minister, P.E.T, if you want to walk down the street pin-wheeling your arms, go ahead and do you. The nanosecond your fists threaten to come in contact with my body however – FIGHT ON!