It’s 2014 and We’re All Racists
It’s 2014 and We’re All Racists
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent difference among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
The year is 2014. and I am officially declaring that racism is a thing of the past.
How can I declare such a thing, you ask? Because we are all racists. Every single one of us. You, me, your neighbors, your co-workers, everyone. Racists all. And when everyone is a racist, then there is no racism.
“NOT ME! I’M NOT A RACIST!” you say defensively.
And I say yes, you are. You like certain people better than other people. Therefore, you are a racist.
“But that has nothing to do with the color of their skin or their ethnicity!” you exclaim with astonishment. “I like certain people more than others for reasons NOT related to race!”
Ah, but how do you know that? I counter. You probably don’t even recognize your own inherent racism because it’s all you’ve ever known. Who can know the intent of a person’s heart? If I say you are a racist, then you must BE a racist, because it is what I choose to see and how I choose to interpret your actions.
At this point, you’re probably slack-jawed with astonishment, trying to think of a way to prove that you are not a racist. You’re actually a very nice person. You don’t understand how I could collectively declare everyone a racist when I don’t KNOW YOU.
*ding ding ding ding!*
That was the Bell of Enlightenment that just went off, in case you are wondering. It’s 2014 – we have those now.
You see, the words “racist” and “racism” used to be powerful words. They had weight and heft, meaning and force. In post-Civil Rights America, to call someone a racist meant something incredibly heavy and ugly. It conjured up images of children having dogs set on them by police, crosses burning, churches being bombed, leaders who strove to change the status quo being shot and killed.
In 2014, all it means is someone who disagrees with someone else for any reason, and that a third party can infer race into that disagreement by even the most tenuous means. By that definition, we are all racists.
You don’t like Kanye West’s music? You racist.
You think Trayvon Martin wasn’t an innocent kid who was murdered for being black? (By a “white Hispanic?”) You racist.
You think it’s okay for Mitt Romney to have an adopted grandchild who happens to be African-American? You racist.
You think Claire Danes deserved that Emmy? You racist.
You disagree with President Obama on tax policy? On Obamacare? On the IRS abuses? On Benghazi? You racist.
By now, if you have looked at the links above, you may be saying, “But those are just individual people calling others racist. That doesn’t mean everyone is racist! And some people really ARE racist!”
Here is my point – any trivial use of the words “racist” or “racism” to belittle people for simple disagreements, trivializes the weight of those words. It used to mean something when someone was labeled a “racist.” Now, when you can be called a racist for simply saying that one person has a better idea or a better performance over someone else, who may happen to be of a different race – that word, that label, which used to mean something… means nothing.
And yes, there are real racists out there. But the trivializing and overuse of the word has meant that those who truly wish to do harm based on race can get a pass. No one can tell now, with the words being thrown around, what is “real” racism and what is not. Now, we have people on Twitter who scream “racist” any time someone disagrees with the president on public policy.
I always like to use the “reverse the races” test to see if there is real racism. So, any time you see someone declaring a person a “racist” for not liking Obamacare, check and see if that same person screamed “racist!” when it used to be called Hillarycare. And don’t forget that yes, it is possible for people who are not white to be full-fledged racists themselves. Just check Twitter any time a conservative who is of a racial minority expresses an unpopular opinion. On a smaller scale, I’ve listened to older, non-white family members occasionally express racist opinions. We often excuse those instances because of generational gaps and historical context (and trust me when I say being incarcerated solely due to one’s race does nothing to encourage anyone’s desire to improve American race relations), but it’s there. It exists. But the older generations don’t vomit their innermost thoughts all over the internet without a second thought. That’s something that is decidedly a product of the 21st century. Jesus once said that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34b).” In today’s day and age, it would be “out of the overflow of the heart the fingers Tweet.”
Beware those who trivialize words. Beware those who hurl invectives to degrade a person’s opinion. Be careful of what words you use. They could be used against you someday.
But most of all, never forget, that until you can prove it to me otherwise, we are all racists now.