Have you ever referred to someone or something as racist? I have.
While many people shy away from using the word because of its incendiary nature, I use it a lot. A whole lot. My predilection for using the term is not because I think everything and everyone is racist. It’s that I want to normalize the word.
2a : a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
b : a political or social system founded on racism
3: racial prejudice or discrimination
Its use, however, has evolved from its original intended meaning into a pejorative that makes white people shudder whenever anyone utters the word. It causes so much ire in the hole where white people’s souls are supposed to be that referring to a racist as a racist has become worse than actual racism. Even some black people have advocated retiring the word because it hurts white people’s feelings.
The problem with all of this is that our reluctance to use, to verbalize those six letters misses a very important point:
Some things are racist.
Not only does our hesitancy to deem those acts as such lessen their impact, but it actually normalizes acts of racism. When studies show that black men receive prison sentences that are 20 percent longer than white men who commit the same crimes, it does not raise eyebrows when the report is titled, “Demographic Differences in Sentencing.”
No one cares that Republican-appointed judges sentence black offenders to longer sentences because it is termed “Judicial Politics and Sentencing Disparities.” If you are not the parent of a black child, you might not care that a government study shows that “black students are overrepresented in disciplinary data” and white students are “underrepresented.”
But we can never defeat prejudice until we acknowledge the facts and admit that the criminal-justice system is racist. Republicans are racist. Schools are racist.
Yet, I am often warned that white people shut down when they hear such harsh statements. Although I have always attributed the existence of racial bigotry to living in a country founded on white supremacy, I have recently discovered through a litany of anonymous emails that the only reason racism exists is that people like me are “always playing the race card.” Apparently, prejudice exists only because white people get tired of hearing about racism, leave their homes and summon the police to cookouts in the park.
But now that I recognize the error of my ways, I am willing to change. Instead of using the word “racist,” here are 10 words that I’m sure won’t conjure up animosity in whatever
racists inequality advocates use as hearts:
When Roseanne Barr called Valerie Jarrett an ape, the New York Times story called the tweet “offensive” before changing the headline to “racist.” To be clear, Barr did not compare Jarrett to an ape. Barr called Jarrett the offspring of an ape and a Muslim terrorist, which might be the most tightly condensed racist sentence ever.
Despite the long history of referring to black people as primates, the New York Times did not mention that the tweet implied that Jarrett’s race was a “primary determinant” of a human trait, which makes it inherently ... you know.
When Donald Trump referred to Haiti and Nigeria as “shithole” countries, media outlets and politicians said that his remarks were “divisive.” That “shithole” meeting, if you remember, was about immigration, and Trump’s remarks were part of his administration’s attempt to create a “political program based on the assumption” of race.
According to almost every scientific poll, a majority of black people approve of the NFL protests against racial injustice, and a majority of whites do not. Despite the facts that most of the NFL players who protested are black, most of the league is black, and black people are disproportionately affected by injustice, inequality and being shot in the face, the NFL sided with the white opinion.
While that might sound like “a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism ... designed to execute its principles,” the new NFL rule that fines players who don’t stand for the anthem is not racist. It is “controversial.”
Because black people are something that should be “tolerated.”
Whenever you hear about “working-class white people,” you can be sure they own a Ford F-150 and at least one Confederate flag. Even though numerous studies have shown that racial anxiety and racism were overwhelmingly motivating factors for Trump voters, don’t call them racist.
They are “working-class” white voters.
I love when people talk about “inherent bias” or “subconscious bias,” because it implies that their prejudice is so deeply embedded that they don’t even know it exists. It’s almost as if they believe that “race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
But they’re not racist, because they don’t know it.
I’m not saying that all Republicans are racist. I’m just saying that their policies always seem to negatively impact black people disproportionately and they seem to employ dog-whistle tactics to embrace the “alt-right” and white voters in order to ... wait.
That sounds a lot like “a political or social system founded on racism.”
A lot of white people aren’t racist. They are “stuck in their ways.” They have “old-school” traditional thinking. They want to make America great again.
“Again” is the key word because it always refers to a time when white supremacy was stronger than it is now.
If you ever want to meet the most offensive, conservative, old-school person in the world, just find someone who owns more than three American flags. Alternately, if they have one American flag but it is bigger than their bedsheets, or they have clothes that incorporate the American flag into the design, run.
Patriotic motherfuckers hate black people because we are the ones who ruined their country after we picked all the cotton, disproportionately fought in all the wars and made America a superpower. I have a recurring nightmare that I will one day be stabbed to death with the sharp end of a flagpole to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a bald eagle gnaws at my innards.
Now, that’s old school.
Because Donald Trump made racism great again.