Excerpts from I, Racist 

10th July 2015

Brad and I were talking the other day about why some white people freak out when you talk about racism. My theory was defensiveness. This piece I, Racist outlines it perfectly:

What [white people] are affected by are attacks on their own character. To my [white] aunt, the suggestion that ‘people in The North are racist’ is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it.

I also like this simple bit about the way violent crime is perceived:

There’s a headline from The Independent that sums this up quite nicely: “Charleston shooting: Black and Muslim killers are ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs’. Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?”

2 thoughts on “Excerpts from I, Racist 

  1. Emily T

    I think this is true of sexism as well – when I start a conversation about sexism with any white male (much of my family) they immediately get very defensive. However, when I get mad about the inequality of men and women with my (not white) husband, he acknowledges and agrees. I think because he understands and can relate.
    We all need to recognize and acknowledge the part we play in others oppression. For sure.
    Thanks for posting.

  2. Auntie Yolanda

    As a woman of color, I have been subjected to all kinds of “isms”.
    Does it anger me? You’re God Dam right it does! I have been denied housing, service, equal treatment because I am both brown and female and as a child poor. Now that I’m 64, soon to be 65, there’s that “ism” too. I have learned to speak up for myself, and to be an advocate for those who struggle with poverty, exclusion and racism.
    However, I too have internalized institutional racism. I know it when I find myself, clutching my purse or crossing the street because I perceive a threat. That’s when I feel ashamed that I have also made assumptions about groups of people. I have fallen prey to what the mainstream tells me.
    Lastly, I get to define racism, I get to define sexism, I get to define ageism, I get to define economic prejudice. Why? Because I know it, I feel it, I see it and I hear it.
    That’s my 2 cents.

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