How to Tell If You’re a Racist?
How often do we ask ourselves the difficult questions – the questions that, if answered truthfully, might reveal some ego-damaging and unwanted facts about ourselves? Seeing as how most Americans are busy either rotting and decaying in public schools or working 40-to-60 hour workweeks, I’m going to venture a guess: not that often.
Many of us fill the void left by these hectic schedules by offering easy answers to difficult questions. But, if we were exposed to a different and more reflecting life, would we find out some unpleasant things about ourselves: that some of us actually have bigot tendencies we don’t know about? That even the white and black, male and female, gay and straights among us, when taking truth syrum or under oath, would have to admit “yes, I don’t like X people!”
Well, I’m going to try and help you out by exploring a topic I’ve wanted to explore for a while.
I grew up in Hartford, Wisconsin. There aren’t a whole lot of minorities living there – the closest we come to street gangs are small bands of white thug wannabes, the kind who wore starter jackets and backwards hats in the early/mid-90’s. Is that kind of atmosphere a recipe for entire classroom heaps of born-and-bred racists?
Here are some ideas I put together in determining, along with me, whether or not you are a racist:
–Racial profiling isn’t racism. As John Madden would say, boom. How about that? Now, I don’t mean racial profiling in the sense of “this person is black, let’s arrest him!” I don’t mean any racial profiling that leads to police beatings, wrongful arrests, or anything like that. I mean the kind of racial profiling that says sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover, because that’s all you have to go on. I’m aware this makes me sound like a bigot, so bear with me.
If you’re a white-bread corn-eating farmboy from Iowa and you put on traditional Middle Eastern clothes, you’ll rightfully get glared at in an airport. And you should be glared at, you nut. That’s profiling at its best.
The line of “don’t be a bigot!” ends at personal safety. I have one life to live, and if my life experience tells me that every time I see surveillance video of a 7/11 being robbed, there’s an African-American male doing the robbing, I’m going to make assumptions. I’m going to be on edge when I’m at a 7/11 at midnight with two black guys and an Indian cashier. But political correctness has boundaries and rules that should be broken. I’m not sorry about that.
And that’s not to say that it’s skin color alone that we profile by. I’d be just as on edge if I saw two white guys wearing wife beaters, jewelry, and speaking ghetto English, hanging around the ATM while I bought my gatorade. The corners of my eyes don’t worry about being PC.
Know why this is okay? Because everyone already profiles without knowing it. Because I said two GUYS. That’s sexual profiling. And it’s appropriate, too! I’m not going to tell women they shouldn’t be nervous around strange men at two in the morning, just because it offends me as a man!
That’s way less controversial than saying two BLACK guys, even though men are a group, too. Know why? Because everyone on Earth knows men are more likely to commit crimes than women. That’s not profiling: that’s the truth. So if it’s okay to be sexist for purposes of self-preservation, it’s okay to be racist, too.
If I walk by a guy wearing a backwards hat at midnight and calculate there’s a 10% chance I’ll get robbed, the last thing I’m thinking is, “What will Al Sharpton think of this?”
–You shouldn’t blame on race that which you can blame on the brain. There’s an underlying idea in the above point: most of the “profiling” that goes on in America isn’t racial, it’s cultural (or sexual). I’m just as bothered by white idiots who can’t speak English as Mexican, black, and Asian idiots. And problems that minorities face have more to do with being low-income than being a particular skin color, no matter how much they think they’re being brought down.
This means that people who ascribe some flaw to race, which can actually be attributed to a poor upbringing/environment/status/education, then you’re entering the realm of racism. It’s not when you see two thugs in the 7/11 and get on edge that makes you racist: if you see a black guy in a suit buying orange juice and milk instead of booze and you’re STILL on edge, then you have a problem.
This 7/11 analogy isn’t the only one we can use. What if you were in charge of a company, and had two equally qualified candidates to fill a position? Suppose for argument’s sake they were totally equal except they looked different: one black and one white. Would you hire the guy closest to your own race, just for its own sake? Or would you rather just flip a coin?
Appearances matter: enough that skin color doesn’t. I’d rather have Carlton Banks babysit my kids than Vanilla Ice.
–Do you crack under questioning? Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade when he was drunk and arrested came out like an unleashed dragon because he had drank too much truth syrum. What happens to you when you drink too much? Or, for that matter, do you crack under pressure?
Say you’re driving on the highway, frustrated after a tough day at work, and an Asian woman cuts you off – your road rage will come out in full force. But, without anyone to hear how offensive you can be, and with the cut-off fresh in mind, do you say something racist against Asians?
This is important because it gets below the social masks and good manners you show to the world: deep down in your animal brain, does that bigot still lurk somewhere? When there are no consequences to what you say, would you surprise people? The thing is that many people who suffer from mental illness have no clue about it & then there are others who think they suffer from mental illness, yet they don’t. If you pass a bipolar test you may find out that you are bipolar, yesterday you had no clue you were bipolar. You can have a mental breakdown without even realizing it until someone breaks it to you. Some things happen unconsciously or beyond our conscious control.
I personally think that most of us would; maybe that says more about my own perceptions than it does about humans, but since we all agree on the fundamental assumption that no human is perfect, I’d be right. What if we’re all only politically correct because of the social consequences? Ask yourself what you’ve said during road rage.
–We shouldn’t react so strongly against political incorrectness that we become racists the other way. Affirmative action should listen. Even if our laws still said “Eye for an eye,” no white person alive today should have to pay for slavery. But we do, intangibly: affirmative action, political correctness, white man’s guilt, dumb college course requirements that say we have to learn Africology. White people are born with a perceived “original sin” that makes us all perpetrators of slavery. I owe nothing to minorities, and they owe nothing to me.
No one seems to get this. As taxpayers, we don’t owe old people social security. It’s not an in-born right. We don’t owe anyone an education. We don’t owe anyone health care. At least, not through the government. Yet racism is perfectly acceptable as legislation in the form of affirmative action. Why? Because you were born white, and they were born black. That’s more racist than nervous white folks at the 7/11 who don’t care what color you are if you have a gun.
Don’t believe it’s prevalent enough to be a problem? The NFL makes every team interview at least one minority when they need to hire a new coach. They talk about how few black owners there are, and don’t ever once stop to talk about how few white players there are. Because people “owe” less to white people – just because they are white. Yeah, I know it seems like a minor boo-hoo compared to slavery, but racism should bt acknowledged as a two-way street.
After all, it only gets called racism when it’s against minorities. No one thinks any white kid who sues for racism has any credibility.
–We should stop distinguishing by race, period. As I’ve established, a cultural clash has more to do with racism than humans actually having bad biases against people with different skin colors. And the white guy who gets angry because his order at the drive-through is slow doesn’t care what age or race the server is: they’re frustrated enough to cuss out an entire group of SOME kind to themselves.
We need to stop acting like kids and stop pretending that it’s all color. It’s more complex. That just brings the argument down to levels it shouldn’t be at.
As Einstein said, no problem was ever solved with the same kind of thinking that created it. Even acknolwedging that there are different races just perpetuates things one more generation: what if we didn’t call people “black or white,” and never said a thing to our kids? They’d grow up assuming everything was okay, no matter how you looked. Everything else just perpetuates it, including this blog post.
We’re all racists. Until we stop talking about it, and until we stop saying things like “African-American” or “minorities.”