Advanced Conversation about Race and Racism in the US
Hi everyone. I'm Jennifer from English with Jennifer. Sometimes my language
lessons are upbeat and playful. Other times I aim to be more thought-provoking.
This is going to be one of my more serious lessons. Racism is not a light
issue. It definitely falls into the category of sensitive topics. I ask that
if you choose to post a comment on this video please, keep it respectful. Anything
offensive or with profanity will be deleted. I'm not here to lecture anyone
or politicize the topic. I'm an English language teacher, and I'd like to give
English language learners some relevant information and vocabulary so that they
can follow and participate in discussions about race and racism.
The United States is experiencing a major period of social unrest at the
moment. Whether you're in the U.S. or not, you've probably seen many images of
protests taking place in American cities. There's a lot of anger and frustration
stemming from racism. That's the practice of judging others and mistreating others
based on race. When Americans are asked to fill out official forms and identify
our race, we're usually given these choices: White, Black or African American,
American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific
Islander. And often there's a category called "Other," which we can choose if
we're a mix, or we may be allowed to check off more than one category. A
questionnaire might also ask us if we're "Of Hispanic or Latino Origin" or "Not of
Hispanic or Latino Origin." The use of "Black" and "African American" can be
confusing. What you need to know is that both words are acceptable.
Many consider "African American" to be a politically correct term, but the word
"Black" is not offensive. Some make the distinction that "Black" is about race and "African American" is about ethnicity.
Please know that the words "Colored" and "Negro" are outdated. They are offensive in the U.S. today.
Race and ethnicity can be quite complex in a diverse country like the U.S. I felt
compelled to make this video because the recent unrest has made me reflect more
on how being American is a different experience for people, partly because of
our different races.
I was born a U.S. citizen. I grew up as a native English speaker. When most people
look at me, they see a white woman. My father came to the U.S. as a foreigner. He
eventually got citizenship. English for him is a second language. My father is a
dark-skinned Southeast Asian man, so our experiences of being American
have been different, and yet I know we both love our country. One of the darker
aspects of our country is racism. Right now, there's a lot of focus on what it
means to be black in America, but racism has been experienced by other groups as
well throughout our history. A person who discriminates against others based on
race is a racist.
This person has racist views, racist attitudes, and perhaps racist
practices. A person can experience racism or be a victim of racism. A racist feels
that one race is inferior and another is superior. In other words, they believe
that some people are better than others simply because of race. If a racist is
white and has a sense of superiority and believes that white people should have
control, we identify this person as a white supremacist. "Supremacist" is related
to the adjective "supreme," meaning "being the highest or having the highest
authority." So a supremacist believes in domination. That is power or control over
other races. "Domination" is the noun. "Dominate" is the verb. Some people try to
"Superiority" is the noun. "Superior" is the adjective. Someone can feel superior or
act superior. The recent protests in America are a call for justice.
African Americans or Black Americans want to live in peace. They want to enjoy
freedom from unjust practices. "Unjust" is another word for "unfair." We need to fight
against unjust practices. We need to fight against racist practices. We need
to fight against discrimination. We need to fight prejudice.
As I understand, prejudice is a matter of how you think and feel. A prejudiced
person has an unfair dislike of another person or a whole other race.
Discrimination takes the form of action, so a company that discriminates against
women, for example, treats female job candidates and female employees unfairly.
So, discrimination can take different forms, for example, there can be sexual
discrimination or racial discrimination.
The history of discrimination against African Americans goes back to the days
of slavery, and racism took root in our laws immediately after the Civil War
ended in 1865. Follow me on Instagram if you want to know more about U.S. history.
One of my upcoming clips will explain what Jim Crow laws were. For now, just
know that we once had laws that made inequality for African Americans legal. For
a long time in our country, blacks and whites lived with racial segregation.
That's the practice of keeping whites and blacks separate, including restrooms,
drinking fountains, and other public places. Did you know, by the way, that
interracial marriages became legal in all U.S. states only in 1967? The Civil
Rights Movement began in the mid-1900s, and organizers led African Americans to
fight for equal rights. They fought for social justice, but the fight to fully
end racial discrimination continues today. Even before the Civil Rights
Movement, there were efforts to fight for justice and equality.
The NAACP formed in 1909. This is the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People. It's still probably the largest organization that
fights against racism. Another group that has received global support is Black
Lives Matter. This is both a movement and a global network of people who fight to
stop violence against black communities. you've probably seen the hashtag #BLM.
That stands for Black Lives Matter.
Civil Rights leaders of the 1950s and '60s largely promoted the idea of
peaceful protests and sit-ins. "Protest" is the noun. Stress falls on the first
syllable: PROtest. "Protest" can also be the verb. Stress can fall on the first or
second syllable: PROtest, proTEST. The people who do this action are protesters.
Note the two different possible spellings. A protest might take the form
of a march down a street. A sit-in is when people sit in a public place and
refuse to leave. They want their demands to be heard and met A concern about
large protests is crowd control. One measure a city or town can take is a
curfew. That's when a mayor or a governor makes it illegal to be outside your home
and on the streets after a certain time at night. Lately, in cities with violent
protests, there have been eight o'clock curfews. A city can announce a curfew, set
a curfew, institute a curfew, impose a curfew. And later the curfew can be
lifted. Note the contrast between a peaceful protest and a violent protest.
In the U.S., people have the right to protest peacefully, but the government
has the right and the duty to prevent chaos. That's complete disorder. "Mayhem" is
another word for chaos, but mayhem suggests violence on top of disorder. So,
what's the difference between "mayhem" and "Anarchy"? As I understand, mayhem is a
bunch of destructive actions, unlawful actions.
A person or a group of people can create mayhem. Anarchy is the state in which
people live without order or laws.
I mentioned that some U.S. cities have used a curfew to help keep the protests
peaceful and avoid violence. I've heard that some arrests have been made when
people break curfew or violate the curfew. Other causes for arrest are
looting and arson. Looting is stealing. It's the act of stealing during a
violent protest or in wartime. Arson is the crime of setting fire to buildings
or other objects, like cars. Sadly, we've witnessed a lot of looting and arson
recently. And although these crimes are taking place during the protests, we need
to be careful not to group the peaceful protestors with the looters and
arsonists. Most reporters are distinguishing between the angry mobs
committing crimes and causing violence, and the peaceful protesters. A mob is an
angry group of people out of control. Mobs create riots. A riot is when people
are angry and out of control. People who participate in riots or rioters. Many
believe that the rioters, the looters, and the arsonists are hijacking the peaceful
protests and creating mayhem. Hardly anyone is condoning the violence and the
destruction we've been seeing. "Condone" means to approve of something. In fact,
many people, even some members of the police force, stand in solidarity with
the peaceful protesters. "Solidarity" means unity.
A protest or riot usually has a trigger. That's an event that sets off a reaction.
Recently Americans witnessed the death of an unarmed African American man at
the hands of a white police officer. This terrible event was captured on video. It
triggered a strong reaction because it's connected to a larger issue of racism
and police brutality. That's the excessive use of force by police
officers. There are at least two arguments being made in connection to
this horrific incident. One is that we have systemic racism. That means that
unfair practices are in our system. They're within our institutions. Is the
police force, is law enforcement full of racism? A counterargument in this case
is that there are many police officers who are good public servants. People who
take this position acknowledge that law enforcement needs to do a better job of
training and get rid of those who are not capable of serving and protecting
the communities and community members without excessive force. Which argument
is right? Where's the truth? Is the truth somewhere in between?
Some argue further that we need to fight against racial profiling. That's the
practice of suspecting people of criminal behavior based on their race or
ethnicity. I think it's true that people can too quickly and too easily make
faulty assumptions about others. The question is are we making assumptions
based on race? Are we giving people an equal opportunity and equal consideration
in every situation? Can we look for the best in people and stop assuming the worst?
We'll end our lesson here. I hope you've gained the language to continue this
discussion with others and to express your views on this topic. Actions will
always speak louder than words, but I'd like to think that through
honest, open discussion we can take a step closer to achieving equality for
all and to fostering respect for all people. If you found the lesson useful,
please like and share this video. As always, thanks for watching and happy studies!
Peace to all!
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