As human beings we are all prone to bias, which means that we tend to find evidence for things we already believe.

All people are prejudiced to some degree because of our inevitable bias, and this prejudice does manifest itself in the way that we think about other groups of people that aren’t like us. This includes race.

Racism is racial prejudice manifested in action against those not like us, specifically utilizing power and influence that one group has over the other. Racism is prejudice in action, using power.

People within the empowered group that act in this way are being racist.

People within the empowered group that do nothing benefit from not being the target of racism, and therefore do not suffer the consequences of racism directly. This is their privilege.

In the United States, when it comes to race, White people have power. 44 out of 45 Presidents. A history of legislated discrimination that favors Whites – slavery, Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment just to give a few concrete examples.

“All sides” implies many groups on a level playing field. It implies that these groups should be able to meet somewhere in the middle if they exercise the same level of empathy and effort. However when it comes to race in America it is not a level playing field because of uneven power and influence.

It is a hill. There are people situated at the top of the hill and people below. So meeting in the middle is not the goal when on a hill. The goal is for everyone to meet at the top. The top is equality, fairness, justice. Everything below is not. People at the top are in a better position bring those on the bottom up.

Those on the bottom have to exert much more effort to climb up that hill. That climb is made much more difficult by two things:
1) intentional people on the top actively or systematically pushing people down, and
2) passive people on the top who aren’t doing anything to stop others at top who are pushing people down.

That’s not even asking people at the top to help bring people up. That would be great and totally helpful, but not needed because people on the bottom want to climb.

So here’s what needs to happen:
1) We need to stop White racists from using their power to oppress people of color – remove them from power through elections, increase diversity in leadership everywhere – work, schools, churches, media, entertainment.
2) Non-racist Whites need to use their position of power to stop their empowered group from oppressing others – White people need to become anti-racist.
3) People of color keep climbing – but we don’t need to be told that because the top is equality, fairness, and freedom and of course we want that.

Written by Joseph Lee, M.D.

I'm a Psychiatrist in private practice in Redondo Beach, CA. I completed both medical school and residency training at UCLA. My practice is psychotherapy based with a health-oriented focus on personal growth and wellbeing. I also teach about mental healthiness and advocate for social emotional learning (SEL) in all contexts.

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