Racism does not apply.
Chris Cook
514

To the other responders:

I am not surprised to see such a strict reliance on dictionary definitions. But the denotative meanings you see in it are not the be-all end-all for complex concepts such as racism. I am arguing its more recent connotative meaning as developed through research by scholars such as Ta Nehisi Coates and bell hooks. What matters is how people in social action actually use the words. Going strictly by denotative meanings will leave you with an incomplete analysis. Connotation will always be ahead of and more meaningful than denotation. So, you can keep on pointing to the dictionary, but this avoids the value of recency.

Plenty of you are conflating my take on racism and what it actually is with how it affects various ethnic groups in Europe or Russia. Maybe I should have been clearer, but my analysis is focusing on racism toward Russians in America. Caitlin Johnstone’s article centered on Russiaphobia in America. So, let’s stick to that. The way racism works here is this: as long as you are not White, the darker you are, the more likely you will experience racism. I was giving the example of Blacks in America because it’s the most obvious historical example. Of course, East Asians, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and South Asians have been hurt by racism, too. But to suggest that Russians in America are experiencing “racism” as the previously mentioned groups is incorrect. It doesn’t play out that way here. The average American will profile one of them far more than light-skinned Russians as an “other.” The historical reasons for discrimination are completely different. Skin tone and facial features trigger racists to discriminate toward the aforementioned groups. But with Russians, it’s mostly over political Cold War judgements. No comparison.

There are a lot of very informed, knowledgeable people on this thread. But projecting your knowledge as representative of the average American is absurd. A light-skinned Black person walking down the street is very identifiable to low-info types. But Russian features will not resonate with them--not close —it’s just another White person to them. I’m skeptical of how adept most Americans are to see ethnicity (not race!) when it comes to Russians living here.

Xenophobia--da. Racism--nyet.

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