As we contemplate the future, we envision evolution across various domains including communication, technology, and lifestyles. These advancements inspire optimism and excitement for what the future holds. However, the notion of the future may be difficult for the Black community to envision due to the impact of historical and current political structures that perpetuate white supremacy in both passive and active forms. This dynamic contributes to the reluctance of the Black community to embrace a positive perception of the future.
As a preface to exploring the historical and ongoing discrimination faced by Black individuals, we need to recognize that these injustices have kept them from being considered equal to other races, resulting in marginalization and exclusion in relation to the dominant culture. This marginalization is an ongoing process, rather than a singular event, and constitutes a structural reality that influences the contemporary experiences of Black individuals. The persistence of such discrimination and its resultant effects, such as feelings of insecurity and mistrust towards the future, may also be aggravated by the intergenerational transmission of trauma stemming from past experiences of oppression.
This is exemplified in the disparate allocation of healthcare resources and the perpetuation of white supremacist ideologies in the healthcare system, which further exacerbates health disparities among Black communities. Additionally, individuals who identify as Black and possess intersecting identities are subjected to compounded layers of discrimination, as noted in the work of Diverlus et al in “Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives”. This text presents the perspective of a Black woman advocating for her health. The text reads “the medical system believing, for years, that [their] tolerance for pain was higher than average, a sort of superpower, instead of what it really was: a tolerance for pain built through years of doctors denying [their] reality of living with cerebral palsy” (Diverlus et al, 2020, P. 179).
This highlights the devastating effects of systemic denial and disregard for the lived experiences of Black individuals, such as the belief that pain tolerance was a “superpower” rather than a manifestation of long-standing systemic oppression. It portrays the reality that health professionals do not take the concerns of Black people, or specifically Black women, seriously when they seek medical care, which can create a sense of uncertainty and fear about the future, as they may feel that their health and well-being are at risk. In an attempt to expand my personal viewpoint, I had a chance to incorporate the perspectives of three powerful black women within the community.
The perspectives of these three prominent Black women within the community were incorporated to broaden the author’s understanding of the future for Black people. Carol Pinnock, a retired educator, and mentor, optimistically believes in the trajectory of change despite setbacks. Pinnock highlights the progress that has been made for Black women, such as the ability to receive an education, and attributes the recent change to the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement. Lauris DaCosta, a retired public health nurse, emphasizes the importance of community involvement and staying informed about local government developments. Individuals can advocate for policy change by contacting their elected officials and supporting legislation that addresses racial inequalities. Marcia Smellie, a retired educator and former president of the Congress of Black Women, expresses concern about the rise of right-wing and authoritarian governments across the Western world. Smellie hopes future generations will remain vigilant and actively engage with current political and social issues.
As a collective, they express the need for youth to learn about the past and understand where these harmful trends originated from. The system that moves and the people who work within these systems need to be held accountable. Resilience is what is needed to break down these systems. The hope is that this generation will learn from the past and see it as worth it to do whatever is necessary to continue to fight for racial equality. To counteract these issues it must be known that racism is structural, which means it is built into every aspect of our lives and everyone can play a part in combating racism.
I would like to discuss further what black people can do to keep themselves alive in a white supremacist system. It is not the responsibility of black people to have to dismantle these systems alone. However, it is important for them to prioritize their well-being within a white supremacist system. Measures that can be taken would be to educate yourself on the history and the ins and outs of systemic racism and realize how these systems operate not just in the present but how they have been grown and built based on past historical events. Additionally, it is important to find resources within your local community as well as build a community of support and solidarity.
As a university student, I would like to emphasize the crucial role that individuals play in combating racism. Racism is a societal issue that requires collective action to eradicate it and this includes understanding the systemic barriers and biases that people of color face in their daily lives and seeing the importance of advocacy and amplification of the voices of people of color. Intentional and honest conversations need to also occur where the experiences and perspectives of people of color are valued. To further combat racism, it must also be acknowledged that it is a structural issue ingrained in every aspect of society, requiring collective effort. Hence, challenging dominant ideologies and encouraging representation in leadership positions and media can foster a sense of belonging and hope for the future among minority communities. Empowering these communities through education and access to information is critical in overcoming the barriers that hinder their progress and full participation in society.
Finally, It is important to note that combating racism is a lifelong process that requires ongoing effort and commitment. We as a society and the next generation can play a vital role in creating a more equitable and just society, but it requires a sustained and intentional effort. It is imperative to highlight the crucial need to understand the historical context of systemic racism and its present-day impacts. Our criminal justice system continues to disproportionately affect black and indigenous communities, resulting in an unacceptable number of deaths of young black youth. It is imperative that those within the system are held accountable and that resilience is cultivated in efforts to dismantle it.
Diverlus, R., Hudson, S. & Ware, S.M. (2020). Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada. Regina: University of Regina Press.