Zia Hassan

Racist Bones

After one of the many stories of horrific police brutality against black people, I was on a business trip in Boston interacting with someone I barely knew.

“After this happened, I asked my boss if he thought I was racist,” he told me. “He told me I don’t have a racist bone inside my body.”

I’ve heard this before. The not a racist bone argument, which absolves the person saying it of all potential racism.

But we’ve learned from folks like Ibrahim Kendi that racism is not in the bones, and rather it is a cognitive process of learning that we all engage with in America.

This is why we must “do the work” of educating ourselves. Since it’s a matter of fact that we engage with this racist system, we must be aware of its tricks, aware of how it will do anything to sustain itself. Of how it will do anything to keep as many people blinded to its inner workings as possible.

No, racism is not in our bones in a physical sense, but it is the bones of our country, a country that was built on a foundation of racism. You may not have racist bones, but you’ve inherited and been programmed into some seriously racist structures.

Like Neo leaving the Matrix, many people are starting to understand that there was a whole angle that they couldn’t see before. Like every new season of LOST.

Racism is not in our bones, but it is in our ideas.