Not meeting the textbook definition of the word racism is often the excuse used for why certain behaviors or words aren’t racist. As long as a person believes that they have a say in what rights People of Color should have, they are racist. As long as someone believes that the answer to our unhappiness with racism in America is “then leave”, they are racist. As long as a person believes they can better tell us how to react to and feel about our pain, they are racist. These people have decided that they know better what is right for People of Color. They feel that they hold a position of authority over us in relation to our experience. They feel they are more qualified and superior to us on how to deal with our experience. That is the textbook definition of racism, feeling superior.
The only difference in casual racism and the racism of the KKK member is apathy. These people only feel the need to show how they truly feel when pressed. As if they are the keepers of the terrible news that People of Color actually are less and it’s only their kindness in not pointing it out that keeps the world spinning.
I’m not talking about people who inadvertently say or do something racist. I’m talking about those who spend time defending their position with the same sorry “facts” the overt racist uses. The kind of people who think of black people as a monolith, which prompts them to ask asinine questions like “Why don’t Black people just…” indicating that they believe any one Black person can speak for the whole as if the Black community operates from a hive mind. They ARE racist, just too unmotivated to put any energy behind what they believe until the question is put to them. You can not believe what racists believe, say what racists say, and do what racists do and then claim not to be racist. As the saying goes, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
Casual Racism is like casual Friday, it’s just a toned down, more subdued version of the same vitriol. The Klansman is the CEO but these people are the managers and the ones in the cubicles that keep the business running. Without all of them the company would go under, but as long as they keep clocking in with secret comments and jokes when they aren’t in “mixed” company, as long as they defend their beliefs in the safe space of their inner circle and on internet threads, racism will thrive and continue to be a Fortune 500 Enterprise.
The hate they perceive when they encounter People of Color and true allies unwilling to let their ignorance slide, is just them coming face to face with the man in the mirror.
We need to stop coddling people and their “racism lite”. This type of behavior is the main foundation of racism today. This need to foster some sort of rapport has placed those of us trying to create an open and honest dialogue into the position of enablers. We can not waste any more time hoping to convince people that their level of racism is okay or not so bad. We continue to water down our anger and frustration into digestible pieces for those with the least, if anything, to lose. Meanwhile, too many innocent men, women, and children are still dying at the hands of law enforcement officers. Too many languish in jail cells across the country due to the inequality of the justice system. Too many suffer in poverty while we deal with those speaking abstractly about something they may never understand or refuse to understand.
We must move forward with our revolution with or without them and their understanding. Not everyone will be on board. Not everyone will end up on the right side of history. We need to stop making it our mission to try and get everyone on board and put our energies into accomplishing our goals as a Progressive Army.
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