You cannot “prove” racism to most White Americans. Some white commenters seem to think that is what I am trying to do!
- Most: means like maybe 80% in this case, not “all” White Americans.
- “Prove”: means to move them from a state of intellectual unbelief to one of intellectual belief that racism is still a big deal in American society. I say “intellectual belief” because most of them deep down seem to know perfectly well what is going on.
- Racism: in this case it means that American society generally favours whites over people of colour – and not just because on average whites have more money or education – that would be classism – or that they have fewer “cultural pathologies” or whatever non-racist reason whites dream up.
The reasons why, in no particular order (click on the links for more):
- They are emotional thinkers. That is clear from how they put their own white feelings above facts. Many get bent out of shape when you use the word “racist”: they can no longer stay calm and think clearly.
- Their minds are bought and paid for. They benefit from racism, psychologically and often materially. This causes them to turn a blind eye, to make excuses, to believe highly unlikely things about their country – like that racism suddenly stopped in the 1960s after 300 years of skinhead racism. There is not only the carrot of thinking they are better than others, of belonging to the white club, but also the stick of avoiding white shame and guilt about the frauds that they are.
- They control the cultural institutions that determine “truth”. The press, universities, scientific journals, museums, schoolbooks, etc. Maori professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith: “We are not the final arbiters of what really counts as the truth.”
- Cultural conditioning. From this comes their scripted denials, excuses and arguments: “Get over it!”, “Blacks are racist too!”, “Africans sold their own into slavery!”, “Go back to Africa”, “You are the racist one!”, etc.
- Racism makes you blind to racism. Personal racism allows whites to live in a racist society and not notice. It seems “normal”. Blacks have twice the unemployment rate of whites? There must be something wrong with blacks. Whites live in neighbourhoods that are over 90% white? It is natural to want to live with one’s own. Wiped out the Indians and took their land? Everyone does it. Etc.
- Prejudice is not logical. That makes it hard to disprove, logically. It can be confirmed by facts (one loud-mouthed black woman) but never disproved (a hundred quiet black women). It works in a part of the brain that deals with feeling, not thought. So:
- Racism is “proved” psychologically, not intellectually. In practice, most people believe in racism not because they read it in a book, but because they experienced it first-hand. For blacks the experience is direct. For whites, it comes through seeing family, friends or lovers subjected to racism – but even then they might still discount it for one or more of the reasons above.