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’?”