Even being an immigrant myself back in the 80s, racism never meant anything to me more than some people being “mean” to others.
Yes, the “meanness” varies but I have never given it any serious thought.
Until recently in my doctoral study, perhaps more so because it is a degree from the United States, the racism (or race inequality) issue has suddenly given me some new meaning. (Many of the examples below are not my original idea but quoted from other sources)
First of all, purely from a ‘colour’ standpoint, white men (caucasian) are not actually white. They are kind of red, pinkish, or may be a bit of yellow. Even people with Albinism are not exactly white. Similarly, black men are not exactly black. Yes their skin are generally darker but if anything, they are more brown than black.
So why white men and black men?
Let’s take another look at the word white and black.
Think about some of the words associated with black:
Not to mention generally we associate black (colour) with dirty, horror, bad, etc.
How about white?
White knight, white lie
Not to mention generally we associate white (colour) with pure, innocent, clean, etc.
I am not familiar with the reason why we started assigning colour to race, particularly colours that 1/ do not accurately reflect our actual skin tone and 2/ have such drastic difference in their inherent meaning.
And this is why fighting racism is not just about some people being nice or fair to others. It’s about fighting our established perceptions on everything around us.
One does not need extreme power to change others, but merely through the influence of prevalent ideologies.