Avis Williams smaller

Avis Williams.


Over the years, I have heard quite a few quotes that resonate with me and help me articulate my thoughts on various topics. Recently, I have been reminded of a quote my Stuart Chase. He stated, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not, no proof is possible.” 

Admittedly, I do not know what prompted Chase to cite this quote or how or when it garnered widespread recognition. I first heard it as one of the weekly quotes shared on the show Criminal Minds and it has stuck with me over the years. 

In light of the recent protests and controversies centered around racial equity, I have revisited that quote from Chase. There are those among us who do not believe that our nation has a problem with systemic racism. Some frame it in terms such as “all lives matter” while others point out the fact that we have had a black president and we have Oprah Winfrey and many other successful black people that prove that racial equality has been achieved. 

To these statements, I shake my head because they miss the point. They do not clearly understand the definition of systemic racism.  

The ABC News website defines systemic racism as referring to the rules, practices and customs once rooted in law. These may have changed over time, resulting in a facade of “equality,” but according to Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science and director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, the residual effects reverberate throughout entire societal systems. 

Redlining is one of the best examples of systemic racism. This illegal practice consists of denying financial, government and other services to families in certain neighborhoods or communities based on race or ethnicity. At its height, black families were not allowed to locate in certain communities but were redirected to less desirable parts of town. As a result, predominantly black communities tend to have a lower tax base and offer fewer resources to provide high quality educational assets.   

This means that, when people of color who live in redlined communities get ready to sell their homes, they receive far less in proceeds and have far less capital to leverage. Imagine how this trickles down to less generational wealth for black families over time. It matters. 

What do you believe? To truly understand our current state of race relations and unrest, I believe that one must embrace and review the history of our nation. Redlining is but one of many examples of systemic racism that has and continues to plague our nation’s progress towards racial equity. I encourage you to do your own research.   

If you do not believe that systemic racism exists, I am currently at a loss as to how to show you that it does. Now is a great time to listen and learn. What do you believe? 

Avis Williams is superintendent of Selma City Schools. For more information, email her at avis.williams@selmacityschools.org 

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