White American racism, as best as I can understand it, sees four kinds of humans, here listed in order of worth:
1. Real People, also called “normal”, are those who are fully human. They have the full range of human thought and feeling. They fall in love, have deep thoughts, an inner life and all that. Clearly you cannot stereotype them – they are individuals! Their lives have an independent value – unlike Tonto, Spock or Stacey Dash in “Clueless”. When they are about to get hit with a hurricane, the government is ready before it hits, not days later with bodies lying in the street. Because their lives matter. Because they are, like, you know, Real! They have mothers who care about them and cry over them! We require hourly updates on their missing women, at least the good-looking ones. And because they can think such deep thoughts, they can disagree with mainstream opinion and be taken seriously, at least if they are male. They play the lead character in most Hollywood films.
2. Almost Real People: These are pretty much like Real People, but because they look a little different, speak with an accent, come from some strange place or follow some strange religion, they are not completely normal. You can tell that their range of thought and feeling is somewhat limited. They may be very good at certain things, they may even be noble or wise, but they are rarely well-rounded. Because they are so limited, the stereotypes about them are pretty much true. Most of them dress well, have money, know their place and speak English well enough, so they seem pretty much Real, but not quite.
3. Fellow Human Beings are anatomically modern humans whose lives and deaths do not seem real. You are supposed to care about them, that is what your mother told you, but it is hard to work up any feelings for them. Because you barely know anything about them. They only matter when they are suffering enough to appear, briefly, on television. People like Angelina Jolie and Bono, who have seen them first-hand, carry on about them.
4. The Despised Other has some scholarly meaning that I do not fully understand, but the phrase is perfect for what I have in mind: those who are so unbearably different – you know, like by having lips that are too big or something – that it is required to look down on them, to notice all their faults and remember the worst-sounding, half-heard facts about them as profound truths. They have grave character faults. Everyone knows it. They are God’s mistake – or maybe evolution’s mistake. Their lives are cheap. They are stereotypes. They have no deep inner life. It is all right to show their dead bodies in the news or their women half-naked in National Geographic. Government spending on them is a waste, of course. They are seen as a serious physical threat to Real People.