Every time two different people from two different backgrounds get in a dispute, race may color the dynamic, but most often it is not the dominant instigator—never mind what Jimmy Carter has to say about race in America. This isn't to say that we are post-racial or that racism is dead. We aren't, and it isn't. Whites and blacks most often have misunderstandings complicated by ignorance of our different experiences. How can any of us know if racism motivates people in a given situation? Sometimes you have to look at a situation and ask yourself if it is being fired by race, or not race. How sensitive is your racial radar? I'm here to help.
Look at these perceived racial injustices and decide for yourself if race was a factor, or if race was not a factor. Get the correct answers at the end and tally your score to find out what kind of race man or woman you are. (Hint: Joe Wilson yelling out "You lie!"? Not race.)
Race or Not Race?
1) Radio personality and professional bigot Don Imus calls the Rutgers women's basketball team a bunch of "nappy-headed hoes."
2) Comedian and TV star Michael Richards calls a heckler a "nigger" six times in quick succession.
3) Oregon football player LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the rest of the season for sucker-punching Boise State's Byron Hout during a round of trash-talking after a hard-lost game.
4) Kanye West commandeers the microphone at the MTV Video Music Awards show, and Twitter goes nuts with calls for that "nigger [to be] lynched."
5) Serena Williams goes in on a line judge and is fined and loses a point and the match.
6) Actor Isaiah Washington is fired from the cast of Grey's Anatomy following a controversy where he is alleged to have called a co-worker a "faggot."
7) Journalist Jayson Blair is fired from the staff of the New York Times for fabricating and plagiarizing news stories. Blair would go on to cite racism and bipolar disorder as the cause of his downfall.
8) Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller told Tiger Woods not to order "fried chicken and collard greens" at a golf function.
9) Candidate Barack Obama is pictured as a monkey on some signs and T-shirts.
10) Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is arrested at his own home by a white police officer responding to a call of a break-in.
1) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? Imus is an equal-opportunity offender, taking on Jews, Catholics, gays, etc. Doesn't make it right. But it is what he gets paid to do.
2) RACE/NOT RACE? Race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? Richards’ use of the race-specific epithet removes all doubt.
3) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? It's not OK for a football player of any color to cold-cock another football player of any color.
4) RACE/NOT RACE? Race
HOW DO WE KNOW: White people were lynched, but lynching is an act that historically was used for regulating the behavior of blacks. This, coupled with the frequent use of the epithet, leaves no doubt.
5) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? Bad-boy tennis god John McEnroe was fined and continues to be fined repeatedly for use of foul and threatening language on the tennis court.
6) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? There is nowhere anyone can work in America and be able to get away with insulting a co-worker with an epithet.
7) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? Wunderkind Stephen Glass was fired from the New Republic for the same thing.
8) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? Zoeller often ribbed and heckled all of his colleagues inappropriately.
9) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? George W. Bush was often compared to chimps.
10) RACE/NOT RACE? Not race.
HOW DO WE KNOW? No one is really allowed to back-talk police officers.
If you got all 10 right: You're a proper race man or woman and refuse to make race the excuse for bad behavior or poor performance. You have better things to do than police white folks.
If you only got seven right: You are a little paranoid and should probably start a T-shirt business to profit from the perpetual black outrage industry. Maybe sell beef jerky as well.
If you missed four or more: Your race politics are Sharptonian and hypersensitive. You are likely given to fits of ranting at the TV news about the way the white man is holding down the black man. You should march on The Man and show him who's boss, if only you had the bus fare.
Jimi Izrael blogs for The Root on The Hardline.
Single Father, Author, Screenwriter, Award-Winning Journalist, NPR Moderator, Lecturer and College Professor. Habitual Line-Stepper