Living in a Racist Society Is Making Us Stupid

We are surrounded by stupid ideas about race — and even stupider ideas about how to talk about it

Crystal Marie Fleming

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Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images

“It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Hundreds of years after establishing a nation based on colonial genocide and chattel slavery, people are kinda-sorta-maybe-possibly waking up to the sad reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But as our society increasingly confronts the social realities of race, we are faced with a barrage of confusing developments.

For instance: How could the same country that twice voted for an Ivy League–educated black president end up electing an overt racist who can barely string together two coherent sentences? Why do white liberals who can’t even confront their Trump-supporting friends and family members think they can lead the “resistance”? Why do Democrats who didn’t care about mass deportations or the treatment of Muslims under Obama suddenly care now that a Republican is in charge? Why does the rapper Common think we can all “get over race” by extending a “hand in love,” while black…

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Crystal Marie Fleming

Professor, sociologist and author of two books, including my latest: HOW TO BE LESS STUPID ABOUT RACE. Photo credit: Nicole Mondestin