Despite Recent Claims by the Right, Noting Racism Exists is Not Racist

There is a belief among many on the right that equates bringing up a charge of racism, or most recently, simply recognizing the existence of it, to an act of racism. They believe it’s a racially motivated division pitting whites against blacks. This belief is predicated on a definition of racism that holds any recognition of race identity in an interaction subverts the concept of colour blindness. Buried not so deep within this idea is an exceedingly poor understanding of racism, its effects on people and even how to recognize it.

A somewhat related idea held by the more vocal members of the far right is that the narrative is more important than the substance. This can be observed in the actions of right wing organizations such as Fox News where they routinely bury factual information at the bottom of articles and the Texas school board busy rewriting history textbooks leaving out people and events that might be perceived as unfavourable to Texas or the US. In their minds negative observations, no matter how accurate, bias the narrative making it more difficult to develop a positive belief system.

This is no more effective a strategy than sweeping dirt under the carpet and trusting the growing pile won’t trip somebody. Identifying and accepting that there is a problem is essential to changing the likely outcome from what would assuredly be negative consequences to functionally positive consequences.

Pointing out that racism still exists and identifying the specific group, if one exists, most prone to be racist isn’t racist in itself. It’s a diagnostic tool. Any division that exists between racists and their targets is one created and embraced by the racists themselves. Typically racism isn’t wielded by an entire racial group against another entire racial group, it’s a subsection of one group aligned against the entirety of another group. Two things are in play here; how in-group and out-group are defined and the innateness of out-group inferiority held as truth by the in-group. The practice of a subgroup defining their in-group as an entire racial group, however they define that, allows them to self identify as victims of racism. This is a functional application of DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender).

A logical point needs to be made here; recognizing that most racists belong to a specific group is not the same as saying most members of that group are racist. Racism can come from any racial group and victimize any other racial group. In the US, there are several reasons why racism charges are levelled at whites more than at any other group. Whites comprise more than 63.5% of the US population, far more than any other single racially defined group so the probability of a white on black, or white on Latino, or white on any other minority racist action is much higher than the other way around. This is simply a function of numbers, in this case demographics. Nothing more.

Additionally, there is an historical context in the US that places whites in a culturally superior position over other races that is inherited not earned. This is exacerbated by the history of slavery and the ongoing idea that blacks are inherently inferior and more violent than whites. The importance of context in any evaluation of human interaction shouldn’t be ignored yet routinely is in the ideology of the right wing. Racism is justified by them by redefining it as ‘racial realism’ using cherry picked, context free demographics showing higher crime and incarceration percentages among blacks. By claiming race realism and validating that claim through misapplied statistics, the existence of racism can be rejected. People like Ann Coulter have popularized this tactic through books, Fox News and right-wing blogs.

Racism does exist and pointing out the group most likely to be the aggressor is not racism, it’s an identification that is necessary to denormalize racism in our mixed society. Contrary to what the right tells itself, ignoring racism will not put it to bed, it will give immoral individuals and groups the opportunity to perpetuate racist attitudes and reverse the equality gains made through the struggles of minorities throughout the 20th century.

 

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