‘Eliminate racism’ an oxymoron

ymca - eliminate racism - oxymoron

ymca – eliminate racism – oxymoron

Klara and Alois Hitler

Klara and Alois Hitler

The first time I heard it I was taking a class at a YWCA in San Jose around the time I was first listed in 2003 (see How I was listed).  Two white women race baited, “White children just don’t get it.” The women were frustrated that white children wouldn’t fill out surveys that asked how volunteering to help feed homeless people had made them better people. They interpreted this as the children being shallow.

Surveys like this are just plain rude. White children are taught to help their neighbors to bank up good will for the day when they need help. It feels good to help neighbors you know you’ll be able to count on in the future when you need help. It feels good to demonstrate your worth to the community. Yes, it feels good to help others but not for the sake of charity or a path to sainthood. A community with a high charity need is a community that is failing. That’s nothing to be proud of.

Colors of Hope by Richard Dahlstrom

Colors of Hope by Richard Dahlstrom

Then an instructor then came in and announced that the YWCA’s new motto was ‘Eliminating racism; empowering women’. Nice, women are second even in their own organization. The tension in the room was palpable.

How exactly does one ‘eliminate’ racism? The charge of racism is often used as a bullying tactic to silence opposition. Using absolutist language like ‘eliminate’ for a squishy but highly stigmatizing labels like racism opens the door wide for abuse making it easy for people to hide ulterior motives.

NIH researchers using the stigmatizing term ‘hostile’ instead of highly stressed or type A  personality also open the door for abuse in the name of community well-being.

Maybe Jews and Catholics should should work on themselves rather than burning their neighbors at the stake in search of their own redemption.

Speaking of good Catholics, the first time I saw a photo of Klara Hitler, I though it was some sort of prank because she looks Jewish, but of course this is not possible…

What is your experience with social justice by ‘elimination’?


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