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Reply to "Are You a Racist?"

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Originally posted by Black Viking:
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Originally posted by kresge:
Well I may be in disagreement. Racism is structural, systemic, and institutional. Being racist has to do with your place/position within the structure, the extent to which one benefits or is privileged - consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally.

I repectfully disagree. The things that you are attributing to racism are actually results of discrimination, and discrimination is not unique to race. A racist person (or organization) that does not discriminate does no harm. Discrimination is an action that creates structural, systematic, and institutional problems. Racism is a belief system that does not have to be acted upon.

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Thus, I believe that it is almost impossible for a person of color to be racists. Conversely, it is equally difficult for a white person not to be racists.

I think this line of thinking is very dangerous. Everyone is racist. But, if we don't acknowledge that we are racist, we can never overcome the actions of discrimination, which is the real problem anyway. What people think is not nearly as important as the actions that result from those thoughts. You can't change how people think, but you can change how they act.


There are several problems to my mind following your line of thinking. Firstly, it goes to far in the direction of psychologizing racism. I simply can not equate racism with a belief system. This suggestions to my mind that there is a level of intentionality with respect to it. It also tends to place it on the level of the emotional or feeling. But this is erroneous. This is why I published the piece from the Race Traitor website. I too am tired of white folks, liberal or otherwise, saying that they love black people. My question for them is what are they doing to dismantle white supremacy. What are they doing to reject their white skin privilege.

Racism is about power, indeed, some definitions of it given in sociological text books is that it is racial prejudice + power.

As Nmaginate suggests, I think that it is dangerous to say that everyone is racist. I would argue that that tends to normativize it and contributes to quietism.

Finally, the theologian James Cone coined a phrase some thirty years ago, ontologically black. He suggested that white people had to become ontologically black before they could truly avow not to be racists. When I asked as a student years ago whether he knew of any white folks who would fit this category, he said that the only one that came to mind was John Brown.

In many respects, I think that he is right. Wink
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