Institutionalized racism is sometimes very visible, and sometimes hidden from obvious view. The members of communities that have in the past and are currently being impacted are likely to be the most sensitive to it, although other caring Americans can be sensitive to it also. The question to be considered here, since it exits in so many forms, is what is to be done when a form of institutionalized racism is or becomes known. The first step is to identify and publicly "name it." Often, the persons who first do so are considered and called out as "radicals", and the offending institution and its supporters in word and deed attempt to marginalize these voices. A way needs to be found to make this early identification widely acceptable. This topic solicits input on how new and previously existing modes of communication and local community discourse can be used to more readily allow this "naming" of institutionalized racism, but do so in a manner where the naming can be properly vetted. It is easy to call names; this can be unjust if not damaging and libelous. Facts matter, however, and are needed in any event to justify and accomplish change.
No one has the power to control our thoughts. Yet, we all know that in conversations or group situations, we can be drawn into a pattern of thought or speech that as a minimum would be uncomfortable because of the racism of one or more other persons in the group. In this situation, we have options. The easiest is to say nothing about the racist presentation, and hope or try for a change in the conversation. This presumably avoids any confrontation, and accomplishes nothing to end racism. Many of us do it, and we shouldn't. The second option is to verbalize our displeasure with the racist expression. If our words are not respected, and the racist expression does not stop, then we should stand up and walk away. The advocates of racism will continue to perpetrate the group think if they are not called on it. If they do not appreciate our speaking up against racism, so be it; it is they who are carrying on a hateful practice. The third activity we can carry out is to let the group clearly know, in publicly spoken or written words, that racism is not appropriate in any of its forms. This is for some the most difficult thing to do; in actuality, it has the possibility of having the most impact on the group and community involved.
The first two things that each of us may need to and can do are a) to think about whether or not we harbor even simple thoughts that we ourselves might consider racist; and b) immediately alert ourselves whenever we realize or sense that we have a thought that we would consider racist. These thoughts come from something within our being, whether we consciously "placed" them there or not. This "self-examination" is something we all should do, no matter who we are. The third thing that we need to do is to take the time, again by ourselves in our own thoughts, to remember to deal with what we have uncovered. We need to develop and follow a path of extinction of these thoughts. The fourth thing that we can do, if we want to deal with racism, is to stop ourselves (interrupt such thinking) whenever we have such thoughts. This is not easy, and requires work on our part. Without doing this, if we uncover any personal racist attitudes, there is no way we can responsibly interact with others to impact on the overt racism that exists in others and/or is part of "racist group-think."