The Anything But Racism argument, common among White Americans, says that racism is so dead that it is the least likely cause of the races being unequal, like in housing, education, unemployment, police protection, banking, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc. There must be some Perfectly Logical Reason that has nothing to do with racism.
For example, in 2009 the New York Times reported that blacks in New York were four times more likely to be out of work than whites, much higher than a year before. The Times’s (white) reporters examined several possible causes – but racism was not one of them!
The logical reasoning goes like this:
- Racism is pretty much dead. Only the Klan, skinheads and people who use the n-word are still racist.
- Therefore a case of racial inequality must have some other cause. Sure, there is still some racism, but it is so rare that it must be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. Like murder or an appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary (pictured).
- Since it is not white people who are screwed up, it must be blacks.
But the emotional reasoning goes like this:
- Holy crap!
- White people are not racist! They are good people! No one I know is racist – well, except maybe my grandmother. This cannot be right. There must be some mistake.
- There must be some Perfectly Logical Reason that has Absolutely Nothing To Do With Racism. What is it? Think, think, think.
- I know, I can buy time by making them “prove” it was racism. Demand peer-reviewed articles, statistics, all of it. Buy more time by finding holes in those.
- If all else fails, derail: “Blacks are the racist ones,”, etc.
This is not to say that the “It Must Racism” argument is any better. It is just as extreme.
- that America has a violently racist past;
- that at least 80% of whites are still racist – not in a Klan way, but in what they assume about people;
- that whites still pretty much control stuff like the courts, police, press, schools, banks, labour market, housing market, etc,
The “It Could Be Racism” argument needs to be seriously and honestly considered. To dismiss it out of hand or not even consider it, like many whites do, is not level-headed.
The trouble is that a huge part of white people’s self-image is based on being white. But to maintain that image as something good requires heavy layers of duct tape called moral blindness. This argument is a piece of that duct tape.
The irony, of course, is that Anything But Racism is itself racist. Notice where the Presumption of Pathology lies: it is never white people who are screwed up but always black people, Latinos or whoever. Not that black people, say, are perfect, that they do not have issues of their own that have nothing to do with racism. They do. But white people are screwed up too – but they have the cultural power to make their pathologies seem “normal”.