I get a ton of angry rants and comments every time I blog about race. Most of those comments are vile and insulting so they never pass our moderation process. I refuse to let anyone post hate-speech on my blog. Besides being vile and insulting, these comments and commenters have another thing in common. They all lack a clear and basic understanding of what racism is. This lack of understanding impairs their ability to take part in an open honest dialogue about race in an intelligent well-informed non-combative manner. In this blog post I want to help those who fit into that category learn a few things that will help them remove the wall of defense, and open them to receive a perspective they have learned to reject. Shouting past each other or only talking to those who already agree with us impedes progress which leads to racial resentment, racial tension, and increases the polarization on issues of race. So here are 20 things to keep in mind when commenting on race.
1. Black police can racially profile and violate the civil rights of other black people just like white officers can. Black people are just as prone to believe racial stereotypes about their own race as some white people are. Most of these stereotypes are reinforced by the media because they’ve been floating around as fact since the first slave stepped foot on American soil.
2. Having a black friend does not exclude you from being racist. It does not excuse your discriminatory or racist behavior. It does not absolve your comments from scrutiny when they contain ambiguous racial undertones. And it most certainly does not give you a pass to perpetrate and regurgitate hate speech. Donald Trump is a serial offender when it comes to this tired trope. “I’m not racist. Some of my best friends are black”.
3. Racism and discrimination are not the same. Racial Discrimination is a process that makes arbitrary distinctions, exclusions, or restrictions that are based on things like race or ethnic origin. This process intentionally rewards one group at the expense of another.
Racism is a construct or a belief that someone’s race can determine the limits of that person’s individual achievement, which leads to the belief that one race is superior and has the right to rule the others.
4. Someone can use racial slurs without being a racist person. But those who use racial slurs are much more likely to be racist. For example; in an argument you say things you don’t really mean. You may tell someone you hope they die in the middle of an argument. Does that mean you’re a murder? No.
5. Believing racial stereotypes can negatively effect your interactions with black people. For example; if you run a business and need to hire new employees and you believe black men are more likely to be violent than white men, you’re going to be less likely to hire a black man to fill your open positions. This happens on a subconscious level and numerous studies have proven this to be true. This is also reflected in pay disparity among races, higher unemployment numbers for minorities, job promotions, interview callbacks etc.
6. Yes, black people can be racist against white people, but a black persons racial bias has little negative effect on whites. I say this because white people are in a position of power, and black people aren’t. Whites have much more wealth, they are in charge of every major corporation, and they have much more political power. If they are racist, they have the power and means to turn their racist views into discrimination and racial oppression. Slavery and Jim Crow has produced an inherent distrust when it comes to the way black people interact with whites. However, that does not excuse any black person who has racist beliefs, but it’s important to know that black racism and white racism are not equal or the same in any way.
7. There is no such thing as “reverse racism”. Racism is racism no matter where it comes from.
8. Pointing out racism and acknowledging it’s existence does not make the person pointing it out a racist.
9. The term “playing the race card” is offensive and diminishes the existence of real racism. It is also detrimental to any dialogue about race. Ignoring it’s existence does not make it go away.
10. Calling someones comments racist, and holding them accountable for their hate-speech is not fascism or a war against free speech. You have the right to say whatever you want because it’s protected by the first amendment. But I have the right to be offended and voice my opinion about your hate-speech as loud and often as I like. If you have a job that puts you in a position of power, or a job in the public eye, your employer has the right to protect their interest and end your employment if your hate speech jeopardizes the success of their business.
11. When talking about one specific person who is racist and happens to be white, it does not mean you’re talking about every white person. Therefore the ubiquist phrase “not all white people are racist” is unnecessary.
12. Civil rights organizations and civil rights leaders have made and continues to make this country a better more equal place for everyone. Not just minorities. The work they do should be respected. The leaders who are in the public eye are human and will make mistakes just like any other man. Their ambition, mistakes, and shortcomings does not make their work any less noble, it does not disqualify them from fighting against racism, and it certainly does not disqualify them from making us aware of injustice when it occurs.
13. Words and phrases like “thug”, “taking back our country”, “the race card”, “pimp”, “welfare queen”, “food stamp president”, “lawless”, “race hustler”, “race baiter”, “ghetto”, “uppity”, “makers & takers”, and “the race card” are used as dogwistles to those who have racist views and beliefs.
14. You don’t have to be black to join the NAACP, and historically black colleges welcomes students of all races, not just blacks.
15. All black people do not share the same views on race and racism. Our opinions are just as varied as any other group of people. But the racism we’ve all experienced has put us in a position to recognize it much faster than others who have not experienced it. The effects of racism and proof of it’s existence can be found in statistical data collected by the government and organizations who study institutionalized racism. For example, the arrests and incarceration rates of black men vs white men. Access to health care, interest rates, credit, the home market, the job market, access to education, etc all show intentional disparities.
16. It is not racist to want to see more diversity in movies and tv shows with an all white cast. It’s normal to want to see people who look like you in the programs you watch. Calling for more diversity does not mean we believe the creator, director, or producer is racist or intentionally excluding minorities. Most of the time casting all whites is done unintentionally and once they become aware, it gives them a chance to rethink their casting process and opens the show to a much broader audience.
17. The intent of racial discrimination is not needed to produce a racial or discriminatory outcome. For example; a republican can support new voter id laws with the intent of hurting democrats in an election. His intended outcome is to win elections, but the unintended outcome is the decreased participation of black voters. Any laws designed to negatively effect a specific minority group is wrong and racist no matter the intent.
18. The election of Barack Obama does not mean racism is over in the United States. It does mean some of the limitations that race put on minorities have been broken, but the pieces of the broken limitations are still very visible and can be put back together very easily.
19. Some of the opposition and hate thrown at President Obama is driven by racism and intolerance. Some of it is subtle and subconscious, and some of it is direct and obvious. Acknowledging this fact isn’t some left-wing conspiracy to make republicians look racist, and it isn’t something democrats invented to use as an excuse when the president gets criticized. We’re barely 50 years away from Jim Crow and segregation. Those who grew up in the segregated south are still alive. Whites who championed segregation, the police who sicked dogs on and beat black people with clubs for marching and asking to be treated equal, political figures who constructed laws that made black people 2nd class citizens are still alive. I’m sure some of those people have realized the error of their ways and have changed their racist views, but it would be ludicrous to think that the beliefs that lead to Jim Crow all vanished with the signing of the civil rights act. So those who refuse to admit or even discuss the racial opposition to this president are either ignorant or completely detached from reality. I feel I have to say this again and be very clear because I know someone is reading this thinking “everyone who dislikes the president isn’t racist”. I AGREE!!! THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!!! JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A RACIST!!!! I wrote that in all caps because defensive reactionary statements like “not all whites…” keeps us from advancing the conversation past that point.
20. We overcome racism, stop discrimination, and end racial stereotypes by having open honest conversations about it. Not just with people we already agree with, but people who see things from a different perspective. I wish people would stop being so afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, or afraid to say what they really think for fear of being attacked. If you make a statement that I believe is racist, and I tell you why I think it’s racist, that is not an attack, and shouldn’t make you defensive and nasty when you reply. I have numerous examples of this saved in my “comments that failed moderation” folder. If it weren’t for the hate-speech and foul language I’d post a few, but I created a comment policy and I plan to follow.
I hope all of this will help those who read my blog and feels the need to call me a racist every time I write about racism. You’re never too old to learn something new. If you disagree with anything I’ve written I welcome your input because you may teach me something I didn’t know. But if you try to post comments with derogatory language or a long tirade attacking me, I will not allow your comment to get posted, and I will not respond to anything you’ve written. So writing those long tirades will be a total waste of your time. If you’re not sure what may get your comment booted, take a look at our comment policy. If you include your email address when leaving a comment, I will give you a chance to modify the language and repost it if there are mod issues.