If you’ve ever been called on saying or doing something racist — or tried to call out someone else for saying/doing something racist — then you know that usually the 1st reaction is to get defensive: I’m not a racist!
NO. I’m not saying that. I’m saying what you said or did was racist.
Here’s my question for you / me / all of us: If you aren’t a racist, why do you still say/do racist things?
One answer is that a person who’s still saying and doing racist things really is still a closet racist. Maybe the “i’m not a racist!!” defense is, pure and simple, a lie. I’m not writing about that person.
I’m writing about the rest of us who have been actively trying to overcome our own racism — our own embedded racism. Because i think that’s the problem: in the culture i grew up in (and many of the cultures people i know grew up in) the racism is embedded in the culture. I live in the U.S. and black, Hispanic, and Native American people were quite simply not legally recognized as people for a long, long time. That’s what i mean by embedded in the culture. It’s hard to get past that sort of legacy.
If you’ve been trying to get past that legacy and you feel that all that effort makes you not a racist anymore … okay, maybe — that’s for you and your conscience to decide. But if you feel you’re not a racist and yet you’ve been called on saying / doing things that are racist, then what you are is an accessory to racism. Sure, you didn’t shoot the guy, but you drove the getaway car.
Next time someone tries to call you on saying / doing racist shit and you find yourself on the verge of claiming “But i’m not a racist!!”, take a minute to look around you. Are you in the getaway car?
Because if you and i aren’t racists anymore, then why are we still saying / doing racist shit?