Monday, November 08, 2010

The Reality of Denial

Slacktivist's post on global warming denialism has come at a time when I find myself at wit's end trying to talk to fellow White Christians about the facts of institutional and systemic racism (and our own implicit White privilege). What these two topics share is that the very truth of their existence are being called into question - yet they are both certifiable, identifiable, and verifiable scientifically-proven facts. Systemic racism is a fact, every bit as much as sexism is a fact, every bit as much as global warming is a fact, every bit as much as income inequality is a fact, or homophobia. Or Muslimaphobia. Or genocide. Or... pick your evil poison.

Denying these facts doesn't make it less so - it just proves that the denier doesn't know or want to know how to deal with something that may alter his or her existence in profound ways.
One could debate about the how extensive the damage is in these areas, vis-a-vis the claims by some of the advocates for change. And we certainly could argue about the ways to change the system*. But facts, those stubborn things, can't just be accepted or not. They are. How we interpret and classify the facts is open to interpretation, but not the facts themselves.

Likewise, it's a fallacy to believe that only liberals believe that racism (et. al.) is a continual problem. That's an unfortunately binary way of looking at the world. Racism is a real, fundamental problem. And the fact of its relentless existence speaks about the persistence of our continual tribalisms and how we (males, Whites, middle class, Americans, and/or straights) justify our superior standing under the line of thinking, "When we succeed, we do so because we're better." Rather, the truth is closer to, "We succeed in large part because society privileges us, and if we challenge those assumptions we were lucky enough to be born into, we may never succeed again."

That is, of course, a fallacy. There are a few with much, much power. The rest of us lack power -- as long as we remain divided by sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, etc. The rest of us are unaware of how we can be powerful - by uniting - and how powerful we can be by uniting.

* These should be the only things seperating conservatives, moderates, and liberals. But alas, there are many conservatives - and many of them Christians - who favor the system as it is and deny reality just to continue that system.

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