Just Because They’re Not Burning Crosses Doesn’t Mean Someone Isn’t Racist

It seems that some people ACTUALLY think we’re living in a post-racial world and somehow we’re in remission from this disease of racism in this country.


Whether it’s inter-, intra-, gender, religious, nationality, orientation, class or ideology based Racism is defined as:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Racism, as all isms go never completely goes away for it is a condition of moral decay, spiritual deficiency and part of imperfect human nature. What has changed is in recognizing the isms as well as societal policing of certain behaviors that manifest themselves from those thoughts. Whether there are negative ramifications for violating terms and standards of such behavior is what matters. The problem lies when people attempt to qualify or justify such behavior, weighing its evil and seeking to diminish its impact or the extent of how far it goes. Some of the excuses are having a friend/relative/sex partner, presuming you can’t learn anything or having faulty thinking and assumptions about the experiences of others. Sometimes it’s best to be quiet and listen! I read this post about Defining Racism that I thought was interesting but still focused on it from an outsider vs. insider perspective.

I do agree however that often blacks who are trying to prove somehow that they’ve gotten over and are living the MLK dream seem to want to trip over themselves to be accommodating to whites in letting them off the hook for their racism. They don’t want to be seen as being overly-sensitive. I say who gives a flying fig what someone else thinks. It’s about the enforcement of standards that every other racio-ethnic group has in place for those that violate their standards. You know with certain groups that there are unspoken rules and lines you don’t cross. Why don’t you ask a few Jewish people how they feel about Mel Gibson and whether he’s a “good guy” or “he was joking” or “he said he was sorry” is a satisfactory response?

Yet don’t we often hear those same exact excuses when it comes to blacks be it racism against them or by them? As if we’re supposed to let it go, not be outraged and not take hateful behavior seriously if it’s coming from whites? Or other non-whites? That we can’t do it to each other and others? Where is that line for blacks and what are the rules? The lines are blurred and there is little enforcement when other blacks violate standards amongst themselves because having more recent African-based DNA doesn’t guarantee any similarities let alone solidarity. So there are two separate issues going on here that need to be addressed. Confusion about our various ethnicities, thinking we’re supposed to share the same histories or sentiments along with the abject failure of maintaining a strong cultural identity has exacerbated the issue. Many of us are simply not like-minded enough to share anything. Thus that lack of reflection and cohesiveness makes it easy to constantly focus on external factors i.e white racism and having a knee-jerk response to it instead of tending to matters within.

I think the idea of separation is too scary for many blacks who don’t want to admit sometimes we may have more in common values-wise with people who look nothing like us. Also to assume that we’re “all for one and one for all” is and has always been a fallacy to begin with. Those who sought to separate themselves in the early days of this country aligned themselves with whites and others in sentiment and blood line to be different. To count themselves as better in fact.  They enforced a strict code based on phenotype that continues to this day. In a dog eat dog world tough choices must sometimes be made and those who wish to do more than just survive make them. The problem is that there’s a disconnect and a dishonesty about how and why this has occurred.

The other major flaw in these scenarios is how sexism has all but been ignored in the effort for black males (as a collective) to elevate themselves. Although there was a time when many joined with black women to build family structures to have a line of defense against those external aggressors it has been under duress not out of solidarity. For if it had been one, not the other the family structure would not have been allowed to deteriorate so completely and quickly. Not without consequences of which there are little. In a sexist, racist society where one group still dominates, hetero black women as a collective of all various ethnicities would do well to think of future generations and how they might align themselves with the most successful men from the dominating groups who are amenable to them. Aren’t there some women you know who date and have children with men you’d term losers and wonder why they’d picked them? They could have made different choices to be with a man who gave them the world instead. The women who sacrificed everything to get Civil Right’s legislation passed could have taken leadership roles or withheld their support and the lives of many would be much better off. Different decisions means different outcomes for one’s life. There’s no going back but there’s no harm in correctly reassessing and telling the whole truth so other women may learn how and benefit from planning more carefully.

Other groups who aren’t white or haven’t been reclassified as white yet pose an interesting dilemma depending on how you look at things. We can also evaluate their collectives and value systems how they navigate through society. Have you finally noticed the concept of people of color and rainbow tribes seeks to align various ethnicities/nationalities together as if they are different but the same and have a common enemy (whites)? Why is there an assumption of a shared cause to begin with? Why did certain African-Americans who claimed leadership roles push this meme without getting the full participation from these other groups? Just like white women were added to Affirmative Action legislation at the 23rd hour get to benefit from those that fought for Civil Rights, so do other non-AA groups and other foreign blacks. If the thought that sheer numbers would equal shared alliances that has certainly been proven false by now. Since so many blacks do not know their specific heritage and are lacking solid ethnic pride, coupled with the instability from that lack of family structure why would anyone else be respectful if there is no enforcement of standards and no consequences for violation? It’s opened the door for others with marginal African-based DNA  or sentiment to loudly declare they are different and other-than and separate themselves (which is fine actually) but still claim all of the benefits left that was to address the historical redress for those that violated our ancestors and used their labor to build this country. Again, those architects who should have focused on thinking about their open-door policies should have enacted a fee for entry instead of looking for accolades and an escape hatch.

Now we have some whites, some well-meaning whites who like to intellectualize the concept of racism as if it was eradicated post-Civil Rights or post-election of Barack Obama. Umm no! Not even close in fact. Especially since President Obama is half-white and isn’t African-American. I know some people like to interchange the word black with AA but let’s just say for the sake of argument it’s not. Because it is in fact not the same thing. The ignorance of the histories of blacks in this country as well as throughout the world astounds. Racism is thought of in extremes when every ism manifests itself with a subtle nuance. Now of course everyone can express racist thoughts and deeds but the dominant groups have the power to reinforce it with laws and other systems in place. It’s the systemic reach of being able to enact those thoughts is where the power to harm lies. It also doesn’t have to mean one is being specifically aggressive against another – just that your perspective takes precedence. If you can’t see yourself through someone else’s eyes and aren’t willing to because it’s discomforting and inconvenient to your little world order that’s more insidious than say joining the KKK. On the flip side are those who claim to be “color-blind”. Men do it to women when they employ a false bravado that discounts them, blacks do it each other in placing a higher value in those who look more and more racially ambiguous that they can claim and those who accept their gender or orientation do it those who are different.

We are all violators on some level at some point. We can all do things that erase other people. There is a difference though from making mistakes due to our imperfections, not having honest conversations, willfully being ignorant, removing yourself from anyone with clearly defined or visible differences or insisting any of the above is all in someone’s head. When these violations occur we must be willing to examine them but they shouldn’t be cause for us to lose focus. We don’t need a Utopia to be successful in life but we do need focus and discipline. I find a lot of the sloppy behavior, lowered values and little expectations to be at critical mass for people across the board in Western countries where greed and avarice have taken over. If find the excuses some make about being free (to be mediocre) for more damaging than historical inequalities. I’m of the opinion we need to be adding something of value to society but lending a hand should not take precedence over self-care. Elevation doesn’t require opting out of participating in a larger collective or actively placing barriers for others.

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