Monday, March 14, 2022

“Racism, fundamentally, is believing in it..."

Zaid Jilani at FAIR (Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism):
.... Growing up outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Jilani’s childhood was marked by the juxtaposition of a diverse community and the nearby ominous presence of the Ku Klux Klan. Overall, however, he says attitudes towards race in his community appear to be improving.

“The environment we grew up in, I don’t think it was perfect, but it was an optimistic environment,” said Jilani. “More and more, we were seeing people break out of their bubbles, marry across cultural [and] racial lines. We were seeing much more diversity in basically every arena of life. And I think people generally felt more at ease with each other. They felt like they were getting along better. That spirit of optimism really motivated a lot of the 1990s diversity culture that I really enjoyed and appreciated.”

Then, seven or eight years ago, Jilani began to see a drastic shift in the goals and tenor of many progressive organizations—even some for which he had previously worked. Eliminating the social significance of racial categories had once seemed to be the unifying aspiration, but now individuals are identifying more strongly than ever with them, and are actively being encouraged to do so.

“Racism, fundamentally, is believing in it. It’s believing that you can make generalizations about large groups of people as if they’re The Borg from Star Trek,” joked Jilani.

“A lot of what I see identified as anti-racism today, I just look at it and [think], Well, actually that’s kind of racist," Jilani said. ....
Zaid Jilani, "Straddling the Line," FAIR, March 14, 2022.

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