The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.Elie Wiesel
Back while I was on Facebook sabbatical last month, CNN ran an opinion piece by John Blake that struck me. I wasn’t posting then so I’ll catch up now… When we talk about racism, it’s usually about the overt acts of prejudice, hostility and violence that people commit. But that’s just part of the problem. Racism is enabled by the quiet indifference of too many to its effects. Blake quotes Elie Wiesel in his article. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” If someone feels another is of no consequence, Wiesel says, “their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction.”
None of us are personally responsible for racism. We didn’t create it. Racism is rooted in slavery where skin color was used as justification, and is perpetuated today in class-divided society to keep workers divided and fighting amongst ourselves. The function of racism under capitalism is to prevent us from uniting as one to fight collectively for better wages, living conditions, health care, education and more.
We didn’t create racism, but we do have a social responsibility to recognize, acknowledge and care about it, and to resist it however we can. This includes working with others through our unions, community organizations, schools and churches, or by joining in peaceful non-violent protest. Contributing financially to an organization fighting racism or its effects is another way. Concessions can be won and are vital, but unfortunately racism can’t be eradicated entirely under capitalism. It’s too integral to the system. Social and economic divisions are as essential to capitalism as oxygen is to us. Socialism is required to ultimately end racism — and it is possible to achieve.
All comments are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another. If you clicked over from Facebook, please comment here rather than back there.