If I call you racist it does not mean I think you belong to the Klan or use the n-word or hate black people. It does not mean I think you are evil. It does not mean I am trying to pick a fight. But it does mean you just said something that seemed racist. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I am right. All I am asking is that you stop for a minute and seriously consider that it might be true.
Instead of getting angry at me, calling me names or downplay what I said, you should try to understand and see why someone might think what you said was racist; try to seriously understand where I am coming from.
I know “racist” is an extremely loaded word, but that is not the fault of the word itself but of its history in White America. I am trying to use it in a friendly way to point out a mistake. To me racism is not the sign of an evil heart or a bad character, but an ism, a set of beliefs, like communism, which can and does lead to evil acts.
If racism is ever to wither away in America, then “racist” will have to stop being a dirty word.
It became a dirty word among White Americans in the 1970s. But that meant whites stopped admitting to being racist, stopped talking about racism, at least in public in mixed company, and so all the great and wonderful progress in race relations America made in the 1960s came almost to a complete stop.
I do not see it as a dirty word but just a description, like “tall” or “blue”. If people cannot be informed about when they are being racist, then little will change. Like doing Aids education in a country that does not talk openly about sex.
Some people say that racism is prejudice with the power to back it up. I call that institutional racism. To see racism in such a narrow sense gets blacks off the hook (they do not have enough power) and most whites too (most of them are almost as powerless). I do not see it as an useful way of looking at the word.
But if it helps you to say, “By ‘racist’ Abagond means ‘prejudiced'”, then go for it. From that point of view, then, when I call you racist, I mean you are being prejudiced – you are seeing things in a way that favour your own race.
Seeing things in a way that favour your own race is pretty natural. It does not mean you are evil or something. It is just the way you were brought up. And if you grew up in America or spent a good number of years there racist thinking is nearly impossible to escape. Because of that I do not regard it as a moral failing.
And, yes, I am racist too.
Just so you know.