Wednesday, June 04, 2008

In Defense of Calling People RACISTS (even if they are only a little bit racist.)

Obviously I am in favour of using that word, wherever actually appropriate, with caveat;

racism is not the same as pregnancy. You can't be a little bit pregnant. Either you are or you are not. However, one can be a little bit racist, and any number of degrees from a little bit, to half, to clueless and in denial yet flaming, all the way to totally completely unashamedly racist.

I do not know for sure how the idea took hold in our society that either you are blatantly viciously violently a racist, or you are not.


I am personally cranked up and pissed off not only about this 'redefinition' and stringently limiting application of a word that should be broadly applied to a wide range of wrong doing and wrong doers. But what makes matters the worse? This new trend where now, according to some (basically) racist peeps, that we are supposed to be as concerned with the sensibilities of the wrongdoing racist's feelings (mostly their false sense of not being basically racists)?

Good God! Talk about the lunatics taking over the asylum. Or, to make a more particularized comparison, it is like the racists have taken over and are conducting the diversity issues seminar.

"Calling someone a racist is hurtful and mean, particularly when the person in question actually is a racist. So don't call them a racist."

Yea. It seems to be that loony, in some circles, at least.

Anyway, before go off even more, let me quote something from an actual working Sociologist, on the subject:

Why do we have to say someone is racist?” “Can’t we call it something else? or “I get what you’re saying, but calling someone a racist is ugly.” Racism is ugly!!! I could go into my definition of racism but here is a link to a basic definition of racism that should get you started. If you’re already with me, read on.

For me, dropping the term racist from our lexicon weakens our ability to call everyone to the task of being accountable for inequality. Admittedly not all inequality is racial, but many of the social ills that we see have a strong racial component. To borrow from Beverly Tatum racism is like pollution, you may not have started it, but you must live with it and everyday your actions contribute to it. The true question is what are you going to do to reduce it? By ignoring racism and the people and institutions that perpetuate it, we retard social progress. Because we have dropped racist from our lexicon, racial discrimination (disproportionate impact) does not legally exist until animus is demonstrated. Because we stopped calling out people as being racist, the very people who support systems of oppression now label us racists. Because racist became perverted, some are now distorted enough to think the oppressed are the oppressors.

reclaiming racist


I want to live in a world where racists and racism are at worst, only part of our collective shameful history, and no longer part of the present. However, I do not want to live in a world where people mistake the elimination of the word racist from the lexicon as any thing close to actually getting rid of the racists and racism, which are still too prevalent.

Thinking that such a vapid trick could work, is of course, the height of idiocy.

So please consider saying the following, the next time one of your buddies says something 'cringe worthy' that is tied to either race, ancestry or national origin.

Tell them,"Stop acting like such a friggin racist," or "Stop saying racist shit."

If they get all defensive about it, push them harder. Follow up your first push back with something like the following:

"Then get the fawk away from me, and stay the hell away, until you drop that shit, for real."

I am not saying that will 'cure' them. But it will be a single incident of you being part of the solution. The more people we get working on solutions, the more likely it is we will get rid of the problem.

What is the old wives' tale? Feed a cold, starve a fever? Well by analogy, racism is a fever, and I would love to see that fever starved to death.

I have slipped into an accidental epidemiological analogy, but hey. It seems to fit.

So let us properly diagnose the condition where ever and whenever we observe it's symptoms (meaning, call out racism and call those acting in a racist manner, racist.) And after that, starve the fever (in other words, do not condone racist conduct. That means, do not condone people who act in a racist manner.)


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