Have you ever sat down in a room and discussed a racist act?
Have you ever tried explaining racial tensions in any situations?
If you’ve answered yes to either of the two then you’ve probably also been accused of using the race card? What is the race cards you ask? – well it’s a way of guilting people of colour into not speaking out about racist situations.
Yup you read that right. One of the things that I’ve experienced the most in my 25 years of living, is societies way of thrusting racism back under the rug. They’ve found many efficient ways of doing it, but the most subtle one is the term race card. It’s usually used to accuse a person of colour of being overly sensitive which effectively diminishes and silences the situation they were trying to bring light to.
Yvonne Addai wrote a brilliant article for Varisty and said “The ridiculousness of the phrase ‘playing the race card’ is plain to see. As a black person I can tell you that being black isn’t something you can hide. Somehow people tend to notice. Your blackness is never something that can be ‘whipped out’ when the occasion calls.”
The term also labels the person as someone who accuses people and is too emotional when it comes to the life we live. When in reality the fact that racism is still a thing makes everyone feel nervous, so diminishing people’s experience is the way they are able to stay in their bubble of ignorance.
The race card also implies that we’re over exaggerating our situations, which is just an outright lie and we need to stop saying it. The only people who would think a racist situation was an over exaggeration are people who would never experience it. Yes, sometimes we play along and use the race card as a joke, but it’s a well known fact that there are many things that people of colour do to survive in a society that isn’t built for us.
Oppression isn’t just physical attacks, it includes the subtle phrases and things used to keep us ‘in-line’ with the status quo. Racism has become a dirty word, but an action that many are still happy to proceed with, as long as they’re not accused of doing so, or acknowledging that this is a real problem that many of us deal with on a day to day basis.
Look out for the small ways we are silenced into accepting the world around us, by forcing us to deny that racist acts are still happening today the world is essentially gaslighting us.