Racism is a word that is carelessly tossed around in the media in our current day and time. The word racism was first introduced by Richard Henry Pratt in 1902. In history there are many political leaders that the American people cherish without realizing that they practiced racist beliefs. For example, Thomas Jefferson noted that black people were “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind”. Many people regard this as a racist statement, but many people also throw around the word without looking deeper into the actual meaning of it.
Racism is used by many people of different ages, genders, political beliefs, etc. but is a word that should be used very carefully. While it should not be completely eliminated from every person’s vocabulary, it is a word that one cannot use as haphazardly as people currently are. Racism is a word that is being mentioned a lot right now. With Donald Trump as the current United States President, many in the liberal community are criticizing Trump for being a racist. I could easily conform to this common belief. But I have to take in the other point of view and wonder why Trump supporters will fight so hard to prove that he is not racist. He has said comments such as “He’s a Mexican,” “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is, he is giving us very unfair rulings — rulings that people can’t even believe”. This comment was made about federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel, who was ruling over a class action against Trump University. This is a pretty racist comment in the eyes of any liberal person. In the eyes of a conservative, though it is just a comment about how a judge may be unfit to rule in a case. So the question is what is the definition of Racism?
Racism is defined in the dictionary as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”. But, racism is defined differently in each and every person’s own life and mind. Now, in order to get into the details and examples of how racism is used incorrectly in social media, one must look at popular social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There is a twitter account that was created by a man named Logan Smith called @YesYoureRacist which tries to point out that racism still runs deep in our society and is used incorrectly. When looking at the account it is clear that most of the people whose racist comments are re-tweeted are teenagers and they genuinely don’t understand that they are being racist. They do not understand what racism is and how they are using the idea of it completely wrong in their tweets. Also, many young people say “You’re racist” or “You’re being racist” as a phrase that they are putting equal with phrases such as “You’re mean” or “You’re a bad person”. What many young people do not understand is the actual power of the word racism or racist. When someone calls another person “racist” they are casting a completely negative light on that person and calling their character into question. Racism should not be used as a simple insult. It is a word that has a very long and disturbing history. Another example of racism being used incorrectly is by protesters protesting the immigration ban that Trump issued. The immigration ban is not a “racist ban”; it is a discriminatory action, yes, but not a racist one. The reason why is because the ban does not involve separation or discrimination against color of skin. It is discriminatory of religion, but not of race. The throwing around of the word racism needs to be acknowledged and people need to look into the actual meaning of this powerful word.
Before I moved to Pennsylvania, I lived in the middle of nowhere in Maryland. I was visiting one of my friends in Maryland for a Halloween party when I noticed that everyone at the party continuously was saying “Dude, you’re so racist”. I was really confused and a little shocked by their casual use of such a powerful word. I remember asking my friend why she thought that it was appropriate to use racism as a causal insult. She seemed taken aback by me asking, which lead to me thinking, if she was so shocked, does that mean that no one in this area has ever questioned her when she said the word? She eventually answered with a pretty vague answer, in which she basically said she didn’t know, she just said it, and that it was “like whatever”. I wondered if she even knew what the actual word meant.
Racism isn’t a carefree word that you use while joking around with your friends. Racism is something that can personally affect anyone. Racism is when my neighbors wouldn’t let their white children play with my biracial brother. Racism is when people judge me for having a black brother. Racism is a word in history that brings back moments when segregation in schools was an issue, slavery was a norm, and when in general black people were seen as less important and precious than white people. So please, think before you lightly throw around a word such as racism, for it sure does not bring pleasant thoughts to mind.