To The Person Who Says that the PNW “Isn’t Racist Anymore”

Growing up, I remember sitting in a history course in the 9th grade, discussing how states like Georgia and Florida and North Carolina are still racist. For some reason, the folks in Washington (or PNW) have magically cured the systematic racism that exists in this location because “we don’t see race anymore; we just see you.”

 

Our media focuses on famous African Americans like Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan .It tells us that America has come so far from slavery. These people have been liberated, so all black people must be liberated, too. I can’t believe this is true. Recent media coverage of police brutality and the activism associated with it seems so distant to our community.  A lot of the violence and action given the most attention occurs in the what we here in the PNW classify as the “South” (Treyvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Missouri). Unfortunately, there is misguided and misinformed images about progressive America being shoved down our throats by corporations, institutions, and media representation.

 

The Washington State public elementary schools teach us about Native American traditions, stories, songs, and style. Glossing over the massacre of a people, all was mended by sitting down at a nice meal. It’s what we’re fed while growing up – to believe that racism is dead. I recently heard you make the claim that Washington isn’t racist. All of these shootings and instances of racism occur in the South and the East, that the rest of the world just needs to catch up with us progressive liberals.

 

I’m sorry to break it to you, but this is all an illusion. It’s ingrained into our systems. Modern racism is an epidemic that is to blame on the institutionalized oppressive systems in this country, not something we can just peg on the South or on politicians like Donald Trump in an attempt to absolve ourselves from the guilt and the blame.

 

 

The following is from a racial covenant for the city of Seattle, in the neighborhood of Capitol Hill, where Seattle University resides, from the 1920’s:

That no part of said premises shall ever be used or occupied by or sold conveyed, leased, rented, or given to negroes or any person or persons of negro blood. 

 

And here’s one from Magnolia in the 1920’s (another popular area in Seattle):

No person or persons of Asiatic, African or Negro blood, lineage, or extraction shall be permitted to occupy a portion of said property, or any building thereon; except domestic servants may actually and in good faith be employed by white occupants of such premises. 

 

And Queen Anne:

That neither said premises nor any interest therein shall at any time be leased, sold, devised or conveyed to or inherited by or otherwise acquired by, become property of, used of occupied by any person other than one of the White of Caucasian Race, provided however, that persons not of the Caucasian Race may be kept thereon by such a Caucasian occupant strictly in the capacity of servants of such occupants. 

 

These are all from the 1920’s. Not the 1800’s, the 1920’s. Less than a century ago. Sure, these racial covenants no longer exist on paper. But these kind of systematic restrictions are not easy to get rid of. They remain in places like our police department, our education system, our housing system, and our economic system.

 

Why do you think that the general population in Seattle is over 60 percent white, but the homeless population in Seattle is over 60 percent people of color? Black people make up only 7 percent of Seattle’s “population.” 

 

Why do you think that Seattle’s general median household income was $70,200 in 2014, but only $25,700 for black families in Seattle

 

Racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are deeply rooted into our system, in our lives. A country founded by white, straight, slave-owning patriarchal men, and their influences still remain on our laws and our systems.

 

Without apologizing, I make my point: No one state, area, or region of our country has a right to claim that it can be excluded from the blame and guilt of racism and oppression, because our entire country, our entire system, is founded on oppression. And it’s time to make changes.