A Thought about Racial Tension

I recently came across a tweet, where the tweet writer proclaimed:

I am convinced that 90% of racial tensions remaining in the West would evaporate within 5 years if lefties\liberals stopped racializing everything, stopped obsessing over and judging based on skin colour and stopped re-opening stale historical wounds unnecessarily…

My immediate thought was that I needed to reply and refute this misinformation as quickly as possible. Then as quickly as it came, that thought was replaced by a realization that a response to this could never and indeed, should never, be an off-the-cuff reactionary response. So, I let it sit and simmer; allowing the statement time to really sink in.

Let us begin with a definition. What is tension? The dictionary describes the meaning of tension as:

  • the act of stretching.
  • the condition of being stretched or strained; the degree to which something is stretched or strained.
  • the partial pressure of a component of a gas mixture or of a gas dissolved in a fluid, such as oxygen in the blood.
  • hostility between two or more individuals or groups.

Extrapolating from the above, we can, therefore, imagine racial tension is a pushing and pulling between races. This pushing and pulling would happen if there is a power differential where one race historically held a dominant sway or over the other. In the presence of equality, this tension would not exist.

In an ideal world, I could stop right here for having already refuted the entire assumption of the tweet. Nevertheless, I would be committing the same offence as the tweet above. To propose a statement like this into a system that is already fraught with inequality and discrimination without proper reasoning, insightful thought or discerning reflection would be irresponsible, to say the least.

The tweet-writer above states their conviction that racial tension would disappear if not encouraged by people who have a more left-leaning social or political view. In my humble opinion, pitting a ‘capitalist right’ against a ‘socialist left’ or turning this into a political argument is not only tantamount to mixing oil and water but as equally impossible. This is not a political argument, although politics, as it inevitably does, plays a significant part in stoking the fire of racial tension.

Racism is a vile, reprehensible and loathsome ideology that permeates the entirety of the North American continent and the World. Whether we choose to accept this or not, this is a reality. This particular flavour of racism does not resemble the one which birthed slavery. It is far more clandestine. Shrouded in systemic obscurities and concealed in ambiguousness it is as dangerous and debilitating to its victims as surely as the whip was to many a slave’s back. It can be found in politics, healthcare, policing, the workplace, the financial system…anywhere you take the time to look you will find it. Ask Canadian rapper, John River, who experience it in his foray into the healthcare system.

Of course, it’s ridiculous to believe that all White people are racist. In fact, in my experience in Canada, I would say the majority are not. What they don’t know is the negative impact of systemic racism. After all, how can they? The system was built for them. So, when people of colour call out that systemic racism, they should not feel that we’re calling them racist. We are highlighting the inequities in the system. The ideology, that like a silent, deadly force quietly steals our humanity, belittles our personhood and diminishes our distinctiveness.

That is what we must call out. Every single time.

That is what must be fought against. By everyone who claims to love Freedom and Equality.

That is what we must stop. For us to really be free!

Brian Sankarsingh is an accidental poet who, for many years, was standoffishly embroiled in social and political commentary; and who has now decided to maddeningly scream his message from whatever rooftop he can find. Sankarsingh is the author of two books A Sliver of a Chance, Insights and Observations of a Canadian Immigrant and The Human Condition, The Poet’s Perspective. You can reach him at brianthepoet@rogers.com Read other articles by Brian.