“You are the one keeping racism alive” means that talking about race helps to keep racism alive. That it would die a natural death if people just stopped talking about it. That I should stop talking about race and go back to writing about half-naked women or the Middle East or whatever it was I was writing about before race became a big subject on my blog. That I am causing more harm than good.
It is something white commenters often say on this blog. Yes, white. I cannot remember a black commenter or any person of colour ever saying that, not even the right-wing ones. That alone should make you wonder about where this thought is coming from.
And it goes beyond this blog:
- Rush Limbaugh seems to think racism is kept alive by the “race industry”, by people like Al Sharpton.
- Three-fourths of white parents do not talk to their children about race.
Some white beliefs that support this:
- Race is unimportant: race does not affect whites directly in a bad way. Unlike people of colour, they do not have to think about race unless they want to.
- Racism is dead: because it does not affect them, many whites think it has died away. It is just something in the history books: slavery, Jim Crow and all that.
- Noticing race is racist: many whites do not see the difference between being race conscious (knowing how race affects your life) and racism (looking down on people because of their race).
- If we do not talk about racism it will go away: an odd idea that no one thinks to apply to things like sexism, cancer, crime, dishonest government or any of the other ills of human life. What makes racism so different?
Blacks are one-eighth of America. They could not keep racism alive all by themselves even if they wanted to. They do not control the courts, the police, the newspapers, the schools and all the rest. But whites do.
Whites in America have five times more votes and 50 times more wealth. Like it or not, racism rises or falls with them. Racism goes on because they continue to be racist. It is that simple. There is no huge mystery about it. It does not fall out of the sky or come up through the cracks in the sidewalk. It comes from whites acting in racist ways – not from black people talking about whites acting in racist ways.
Some whites might say “you are keeping racism alive” because they hold to one or more the beliefs listed above, but the heart of the matter is that talking about race makes white people uncomfortable. Because deep down, whether they want to admit it or not, they know that they have an unfair position in society because of the colour of their skin. Instead of living right they would rather live a lie – like they have been doing to different degrees ever since slave days.
– Abagond, 2010.
- race baiter argument
- colour-blind racism
- race conscious