I tried to reason with a racist on the internet
And here’s what happened
Since I was a child, I’ve had a problem with backing down from arguments.
My dad was a talking man. We always had to have a ‘conference’ before he spanked me. I often had to reason my way out of whippings.
My parents raised me to say what I think, and I never pulled punches with them. So, you could say, I have some practice with rhetorical wrestling matches.
Now, I don’t have a need to attack opinions just because I disagree with them.
I can read something online I vehemently disagree with and type nothing. I know how to roll my eyes and keep them moving.
But, if you come to my turf, expect a war of words. In my space, I enforce a ‘stand your ground' policy.
I’m only convinced by facts, and I will go down stringing, swinging, and flinging sentences on a particular point.
And recently, when someone tweeted one of my posts about racism, a white supremacist responded. Those hashtags on Twitter are great, right? But a racism hashtag is like an irresistible treat for the trolls.
So, the white supremacist tweets, “it’s the IQ of Black people” that’s the source of our problems and not racism.
Well, that statement alone is enough to make someone lose their mind.
It wouldn’t surprise me if such toxic talking points make every brain that encounters them to lose brain cells.
How do you reason with that thought? Especially when someone thinks you don’t have the IQ to engage in a debate.
Should you reach for the block button right away?
Do you let it slide and say nothing?
You can imagine the mental and emotional toll trolls take — especially the racist ones.
And most of us know these online “conversations” are ineffective and incapable of changing people.
But, hey, I went with it anyway.
Sometimes you have to protest in place.
The white supremacist and I exchanged many messages on Twitter over several hours.
Here’s what happened and how the conversation ended:
So, first off, people who aren’t Black should never assume they know what “Black people’s biggest issue is…”
What an audacious and racist opening, eh?
And my piece had several linked sources about the mental and physical effects of racism.
So, it was clear this guy didn’t read my piece. Here’s how I responded:
I know white supremacy is dangerous, detrimental, and deadly. But someone who is a white supremacist should be able to see how their racism is harmful even if they hold on to the hate.
But many racists deny they are racists. And they also deny that racism even has any power in the world.
This is nothing but willful ignorance, denial, and compartmentalization.
As you can see, he mentions a study of 200 kids. Now, if you are going to mention a study you should have a link or a source, right?
So, of course, I ask for the study. My thought was, show me the receipts, please:
Well, he had no links or sources. His study was nothing but hearsay, so I provided him with my source.
His hearsay study followed 200 kids which is nothing compared to the 20 million kids in the study I linked:
But, he wasn’t having it. So, I reviewed another link he sent me about IQ and race.
He said this new link would be ‘more in-depth.”
Well, the study in the link he sent me did him no favors. It’s obvious he didn’t even read his study.
So, I cut-and-paste portions of his study and tweet them back to him.
Now, I did have a little chuckle at his study. How are you going to be a racist and quote the New York Times and the Brookings Institute? I guess it is possible, there are racists everywhere.
But his study said any IQ gaps could be “eliminated” by the environment which indicates any IQ differences are not innate.
And to me, racism is a big environmental factor, it’s everything.
As you can see, he thought the researchers hedged in the piece.
But, the word “eliminate” in reference to any IQ gaps is clear in his study.
When I pointed out the points in his study, he didn’t want to study that study anymore:
At this point, I’m thinking I can argue better with myself. So, I remind him how he’s offered no proof of his theory.
I assume he eventually read his links, because this is what he tweeted the next day:
And that’s where we ended. He started our conversation with confidence in an “unspoken truth” he had to share.
But, by the end of our conversation, he retreated. He even conceded he could be wrong. I wanted to type in all caps “YES, YOU ARE WRONG!”
But I didn’t.
I never even called him the titles, adjectives, nouns, and expletives he had earned.
Now, I’m not claiming victory here. You won’t find me standing in front of a ‘mission accomplished’ banner. I’m also not declaring the nuclear threat from this racist is over.
But, this exchange illustrates the flimsy nature of these white supremacist theories. Racists and their ideologies are weaker than people realize. They don’t stand up to science, studies, or social interactions.
Yes, they are still dangerous, in part because maybe they go unchallenged.
This person obviously didn’t know what they were talking about, no racist person does. Perhaps no one had challenged this person.
I’m sure he will lick his wounds, fortify himself, and come back for more.
But, I already know racism is entirely indefensible.
I hope he figures that out someday soon, too.