Racism by Another Name
Updated: Apr 29, 2022
For a while i thought I was racist. I mean. I am racist obviously, only super racists would claim they are not. But for a while I worried because I had not dated any one whose skin was darker than me. This was a problem, I felt bad and worried about who I was. This realization led me to learn a lot and prepared for much pain to come. You see, racism is layered and it is hurtful.
Let's start from the beginning. The thing is that Costa Rica as every country in Latin America is full of people of all origins. But the darker people are excluded from the higher classes. Ask any Costa Rica (myself included ca. 2012 ) and they will give you idiotic ex-post rationalizations.
I would have told you that the black people live where there is no jobs and infrastructure is bad because that is where slave holders brought them back when the Banana Republic business model was first invented
I would have said that Nicaraguans are just poorer and less educated because they just don't have the money to pay for good schools. That we could just not get good schools for all. Racism even institutional racism is unconscious. Or at least my racist memory wants me to think.
The reality is that in my elite school, a place composed of over a thousand students, there were two black people, a couple of Asians and no black people ever finished school there.
Throughout my life I thus lived in a place full of "white" Costa Ricans. I imagined myself as part of the global elite. As one potential member of Seinfeld, Friends, How I met your mother, and my future wife having a Sex and the City kind of clique.
Media told me white was beautiful. My body learned the message. My hormones internalized it. And after I learned the idiocy of my views. The brownness of my skin. When I started to acknowledge the racism I experienced. I worried. A question yelled in my consciousness: How come I have never dated someone darker than myself?
A couple of weeks later I proved the hypothesis wrong. I dated a darker person. I was attracted. With time I have realized I do am attracted to people of different skin colors. But my ptaught me something important. I learned about the layers of racism that define our lives.
Racisms is layered. Because no one should be asked to date a person they do not want. "The personal is political" and no one should date who they do not want. Yet, media exists. Media forges the lenses through which we experience our lives. Media bootstraps our expectations. And so what who want to date is not exactly
"up to us".
Let's deconstruct this for a second. If not wanting to date whom media tells us should not be dated means we date brown people less then this behavior is not racist, right? How do we handle this.
Antiracism. Is a theory by Ibrahim X. Kendi built on a deep truth. Racist acts can be hard to pin point. Yet, antiracist actions are much easier to gauge. I might not be racist by dating people who are lighter than me. But my actions are not antiracist. By following the media baby food I perpetuate racism. My crisis in itself was a pityful attempt at antiracist action.
But some things are really racist. I mean spoon feeding society with ideas that dark people are not beautiful. That brown people are dangerous. That white people are normal and every one else is less than the norm. Is wrong. It is racist. It should not be allowed. But it is. Why?
Well because media is just an agglomeration of firms. A mostly insignificant part of our economy. Get probably the best return on investment for manipulating our minds. Media is just a mirror to our society and it's institutions. And both are racist. Racist institutions are the problem. They hurt and damage as I would come to learn.
Last Monday, I received my residence permit for Germany. Germany as every developed late stage capitalist society has a GDP that does not decline because of the influx of skilled immigrants. This influx happens because there is a surplus of skilled workers in the less developed corners of the world. People like me who leave their homes in the hope of giving their children a better home.
Last Monday, I received my residence permit for Germany. I applied for it in September 10th 2020. My visa application was accepted in April 2021. My residence was accepted in December 2021. My residence permit was handed to me last Monday April 25th, 2022.
The description in my website states that "I am a physicist and engineer by training and a social scientist by trade". I am a Business School Professor and alone I earn well above the Germany median household income. I do not aim to brag but to state that I am who Germany needs in order for their economy to avoid decline. If Germany wants to avoid entering the Japanese GDP trajectory they need to lure people like me.
The Netherlands knows this. It took the Dutch less than a month to process and send me my residence permit. It took them two months to accept waiving their claim for almost 40% of the taxes I would have paid for a five year period. I paid nothing but was met with capable friendly people in an office within the Dutch World Trade Center. A building with one of the nicest foyers I have seen in Europe. The Dutch made me feel needed.
Last Monday, I received my residence permit for Germany. A permit that took two years for me to process. Two years of fear and anxiety. A process that made me cry in the arms of my friends. That stressed my household into tears and tension. The existential anxiety has crippled my life. For these two years. But why?
I might not be liable for not dating people darker than me. Media might not be awful for doing what institutions ask them to. Institutions on the other hand can be deemed racist. And this alas is the topic of this post.
Last Monday, I received my residence permit for Germany. After passing a couple of deeply heartless guards, I entered the halls of the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge. I have been inside twice. Once with my wife and once alone. In both occasions I was faced with deeply humane and caring people. To the point of feeling bad of holding such deep seated anger for their institution. The people I met were skilled, efficient, and helpful. They were great.Both times I left the building, I wondered: Why was I worried? How come I overreact so much?
Each time it takes me a time to remember. Remember that the road to hell is paved with the deeds of good intended people or somewhat the saying goes. Indeed BAMF is full of good intended overworked and burnt out people who by their overexertion avoid the decline of Germany's economy. Their actions are impressive. The actions of martyrs in the pursuit of a belief in globalisation.
Martyrs because their overexertion is expected. Carefully accounted for and maintained within control. Their resources are cut. Their institution left behind. The people who allocate the work choose to perpetuate the pain. To invest in funding other things in order to give people like me a clear and unerring signal.
The signal is clear bit that does not mean it is understandable by many. Indeed when I tell my story Germans would brush it off. They would say that the institution probably has budget problems. They would take the pavement of the road to hell as signal of the morality of the institution. Forgetful of the detailed plans of the engineers of racism and perpetuators of the architecture of racism.
The architects of racist institutions are the problem. These are the people who underfund Migration Offices. The people who fail to back movies where nonwhites love each other. These are the people who break our minds. These are the people who broke my heart. Yet, in contrasts to past policies. These architects can only break my heart. Not stop it. Much less burns it and it's case as in years past.
I do get the message. I do understand that when it takes two years of tiranny and architected existential Angst for a country to let people like me in the message is that they do not want me. That they are doing the best to not have me. That they lost a battle. That they wish I would leave.
Loud and clear I hear their panic. I feel their fear as I enter their buildings. I feel their cries as they imagine the white genocide I plan to perpetrate. The mud bloods I plan to create. The traditions I plan to help people forget. The change I bring to a land that so few decades ago had a purist goal. As I feel their anguish I Reber the words of N.K. Jemisin
They’re afraid because we exist, she says. There’s nothing we did to provoke their fear, other than exist. There’s nothing we can do to earn their approval, except stop existing – so we can either die like they want, or laugh at their cowardice and go on with our lives.
I remember her words and I see their mistake in my case. I do act to provoke. I act. I transgress. I have laws behind me. I have morality behind me. They might disagree with the laws as much as they might disagree with the declaration of human rights. But they could not, they cannot, they will not stop me.
Last Monday, I received my residence permit for Germany. I celebrate with my wife. We ate out, in a pizzeria where we had Guacamole Bruschettas. We wondered at the taste. The guacamole had basil in it. I felt home. I am home.
Through the years I have learned that I am indeed racist. We all are. But I have also learned that racism is layered, structured, and architected to precise degrees. And mine is not. It is conscious and I work against it. But in all honesty, I am married. The story is done. Yet I am thankful for my racist crisis. It gave a political purpose and an adversary.
My fight now is with the architects of racism. I will do my best to break and destroy your racist dreams. I look infinitely forward to when in some future your nightmare, a brown bundle of joy comes to my household. On that day I will think of you. I will hear your cry and your dreams crumble. Please despair. You have your right. I am actively working on destroying your dreams. Soon I will succeed. Soon you won't recognize your home. Soon your family will hate you. Soon we will kyour darling rotten values. Soon you will stand alone.
Hello, little enemy. The battle is on.
PS: The image below is from the waiting room of Amsterdam's immigration. Office.
PS: As a progress report. In this document you can see that one in three children born in Germany has a migration background (1+ nonGerman parent). In any city with more than 500k people the number goes up to 50%. And the numbers are growing fast. Soon most German children will have a migration background. Your move little enemy.