Opinion

What Racism, Systemic-Racism ​and Implicit Biases Look Like

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Reconciliation Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma 

Public Speech By Nate Morris 

“Thank you to Moises and Indivisible, OK for this opportunity to speak.  Hate is real. And yesterday hate marched through a colonial city.  

Yesterday hate sped a Dodge Charger into a crowd of peaceful protestors combatting racism and injustice.

Yesterday hate made a martyr out of Heather Heyer. 

Yesterday, hate failed to condemn itself – either from behind a podium or on social media. 

Yesterday, hate donned hoods, waved flags, screamed epithets, and attacked innocents in a small mountain town. 

And so as this was happening, these images were played over and over and over again on our phones, and computers, and televisions, and we were told:

This is what hate looks like. 

This is what racism looks like. 

But I want to caution you in that. 

Because racism is far more insidious than that. 

It is a disease. And when it infects its host the effects, the symptoms are so benign, so hard to notice, that when they manifest themselves as biases, we don’t recognize it, because it doesn’t match the images we see on screen. 

Racism – systemic racism – implicit biases – these things don’t just look like hoods and capes and flags and fire. 

It’s that statement of:

Oh, you teach where? That must be really hard, I would never send my kid there. 

Or

No, I’ve never been to that part of town. It’s too dangerous. 

Or 

He just looks really suspicious. 

Or

I just don’t see color 

It’s the unhindered stairs. The clutched bags. The locked doors. The unnecessary questions. 

And all of these things, if left unchecked, build on one another.  

They lead to a nation with mass/disproportionate incarceration. 

A nation where thousands of kids can be imprisoned and sentenced to life without parole. 

A nation where the election of our current president and the events of this weekend are Even possible. 

We even see these consequences in our own city, where a father could not get home to his family. 

We see it as members of our community have to go and advocate just to have access to healthy food options. 

We see it as elected officials can actively deny the fact that a 10.7-year life expectancy gap exists in Tulsa.  

We see it when tornado cleanup in one part of the city took a week, and another takes a full season. 

We have a responsibility to recognize our biases. To call them out. To own them. To correct others when their biases become evident. And to support our brothers and sisters of color in this fight each and every day. 

The longer we choose to ignore them, the more complicit we become. 

Hate is real. But hate, in the face of ignorance and love, is weak.  

Hate always loses. Love always wins. 

What happened in Charlottesville doesn’t have to happen here – but it requires us to be honest, and cognizant, and aware, and present, and persistent and outspoken in order to ensure our city can heal from its current wounds. 

Do not let this acute awareness fade.”

Categories: Opinion