Selections on systemic racism | The Sun Magazine
Featured Selections

Selections on systemic racism

June 5, 2020

We’ve gathered selections from The Sun’s archive that examine white supremacy, systemic racism, mass incarceration, police brutality, and other related issues. They are all freely available for anyone to read and share. (Click here for additional selections.)

We Will Be Seen

Tressie McMillan Cottom On Confronting Racism, Sexism, And Classism

“The way racism often works is to simply transmute the definitions of words: if you somehow manage to meet the standard, we’ll just revise it so you don’t. . . .

White supremacy is defending inherited privilege and resources and the ability to pass them on. Until you disrupt that, I don’t know that we can change the economic base of culture and community.”


White Lies

Ijeoma Oluo On Privilege, Power, And Race

“We cannot understand American racism unless we recognize it as a system that was built to run — and still runs — on principles of oppression and domination. Four hundred years of history doesn't go back into the toothpaste tube. . . .

In this country there are large racial divides in everything from infant mortality, to how much you earn, to your chances of being arrested or incarcerated. This is not because a bunch of white people wake up every day and decide to oppress people of color; it's not just the actions of individuals with hate in their hearts.”


To Protect And To Serve?

Alex S. Vitale On The Overpolicing Of America

“It’s a mistake to think of each episode of police misconduct as an isolated incident that might have gone another way if different officers had been involved. It’s not about individuals. The problem is a political imperative toward overpolicing.”



Dangerous Love

Reverend Lynice Pinkard On The Revolutionary Act Of Living The Gospels

“Reparations begin with listening and responding to the claims and demands made by those who have been on the receiving end of racial domination. This means that people of color set the agenda, something that makes white people of all political stripes uncomfortable. White supremacy continues to manifest itself in this way, even among leftists.

Reparations are not a one-off payment but an ongoing process focused on the transformation of society, not just individuals. I’m not saying that individual transformation doesn’t matter, but as long as white supremacy exists, we all remain captives of our positions within it, which for white people means maintaining an oppressor identity.”


Some Thoughts On Mercy


“All in all, this traffic stop the other night amounted to nothing. It was so nothing, in fact — so everyday, so known, so agreed upon, so understood — that I am embarrassed, ashamed even, by the scale of my upset, by the way this nonevent took up residence in my body and wrung me out like a rag. I didn’t even get a ticket, after all. He just asked me some questions — questions I knew (we all knew, didn’t we?) he had before he pulled me over. We say, “Yeah, that’s just how it goes.” Given what could’ve happened, I ought to be glad, right? I ought to get over it.

But it is also the familiarity of it all (black guy has unpleasant run-in with the cops) that makes my experience, and the many thousands like it, almost invisible — which makes the significant daily terror of being a black or brown person in this country almost invisible.”


Blind Hate

Randy Blazak On Why White Supremacy Persists

“White fragility is a concept I didn’t even know about two years ago — how hard it is for white people to talk about race without getting defensive and emotional. We have to figure out how to be more open to those conversations. America is becoming a browner nation. America is becoming a more openly gay and sexually free nation. The genie’s out of the bottle. We have to figure out how to manage it. We can’t go back to some mythical past.”


Throwing Away The Key

Michelle Alexander On How Prisons Have Become The New Jim Crow

“Not caring about a person's race is presented as some kind of virtue, as if it will lead us to act in a fair and nondiscriminatory way. In fact, not caring can be a form of cruelty. I firmly believe that we should be encouraging people to see and appreciate racial differences, to celebrate the contributions made by those of other ethnicities, and to care about the suffering of groups who are defined by race. . . .

It's my hope that we will build a new civil-rights movement that is focused not on combating blatant racism but on dismantling the racial caste system. Until we do that, we will continue blaming the victims of the system for their condition, and the system will continue to hum along.”


Twenty-Seven And A Half Years


“Angola is a maximum-security prison with more than five thousand inmates. It’s eighteen thousand acres surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River and on the fourth by the Tunica Hills. It used to be a slave plantation. The name originates from the Africans who were brought there from Angola during the slave trade. It’s still a working plantation. Guys are picking cotton all day for two cents an hour.

I was in a work crew called Line 5. We mostly dug ditches. We tilled the land, pulled the trees down, threw that diesel on it, and burned off both sides of the ditch clear down to the dirt. We were out there in blistering heat or bitter cold and rain. Didn’t matter; we had to work.

The main prison, Camp A, was the old slave camp. It’s something else, to be part of such a long history. That spot is stained with blood. Hundreds of years of brutality. The pain and suffering that land has caused. The violence that exists on them grounds.”


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