Commenter JT asked:
Could you post on the differences between white bigots, white implicit racists, and whites with integrity? It would be interesting to read your take on the different types, the frequency with which each occur and maybe a prescription how each can be recognized and/or addressed.
Here is how I understand the three kinds:
- white bigots – those who hate blacks, use the n-word and have views that even most whites would regard as racist. What blacks would call being openly racist. On this blog I call them Jim Crow racists. Examples: The Klan, David Duke, white grandmothers and uncles.
- white implicit racists – they do not hate blacks and may even be careful to be politically correct in their speech. They say they do not see colour, that it is wrong. But they still look down on blacks and stereotype them. They see them as poor, “ghetto”, screwed up, as less moral and intelligent, etc. Because racism is bad and most whites are not bad people, most whites cannot be racist. So racism is dead. Therefore something must be wrong with black people. Bootstraps, pathologies, blah, blah. Blacks see these as subtle racists because it is not always apparent right away that they are racist. I call them colour-blind racists. Example: most white people in America.
- whites with integrity – a loaded term that assumes other whites do not act with integrity. That is mostly true, but not completely so. I take this term to mean whites who are not racist or who at least are trying to unlearn their racism and do the right thing. Examples: John Brown, white Freedom Riders, Tim Wise, white allies.
Most whites would consider only the bigots to be racist.
At a guess I would say:
- 10% are white bigots,
- 85% are white implicit racists and
- 5% are whites with integrity.
This blog seems to hold an attraction for whites at the extreme ends – bigots and those with integrity – but in my own offline experience both are rare. Implicit racism is the rule.
Take the test! For white North Americans only:
- Do you use the n-word?
- Are black people their own worst enemies?
- Are you racist?
Scoring: If you said yes to #1 you are probably a white bigot. If you said yes to #2 alone, you are most likely an implicit racist. If you said yes to #3 alone, you are probably a white with integrity. If you said something else, then it is complicated – but most likely you are an implicit racist of some sort.
I think nearly all Americans are racist, it is just a matter of degree and kind. Racism is so much a part of American culture – schoolbooks, television, ideas of beauty, etc – that it is hard to escape.
Racism is something you have to unlearn on purpose. Not by trying to not see colour but, as a first step, by understanding how racism works and how it has affected you. Start by reading Ronald Takaki’s “A Different Mirror” (2008).