Are you racist? Do you know anyone racist?
A Ennis

Am I racist? I don’t think so. Though I will admit that being black I am extremely sensitive to the way race has formed my view of American culture. I was not raised in a racist environment — my parents were civil rights activists and devout Catholics and we grew up with friends of all races and cultures. Do I see white people as racist? No. Only if they indicate it by word or action would I even consider it. Do I see black, or hispanic, or asian people as racist? No, unless again, they give me a reason to suspect they are.

Do I know anyone racist? Yes. Sadly, more than I would like to admit. Not just white people either. They are white, black, Asian, Hispanic. I will say some of them have actually admitted to being raised as racists and they are trying to eliminate that trait from their character. Most do not agree they have “racist” biases, and many claim they are “color blind.” We all struggle.

After about 1970, everyone knew it was wrong. Excluding the south/ which should be its own planet, everyone knew racism was wrong. And America went to bat for that message. They have tried to combat racism since then. And send a message at least , that was anti racism.”

This is one of the greatest and most harmful fallacies. The danger that people believe we’ve solved the problem. NO, everyone did not (and does not) believe it is wrong. There are clearly plenty of people who believe to this day that certain races are superior to others. Pretending that just because there were progressive laws put on the books that the nation is no longer racist is misguided. If the racial animosity and vitriol in the national dialog today isn’t proof that the laws alone won’t solve our cultural, structural, and institutional race problems, then I don’t know what proof is needed. If America really “went to bat” to eliminate racism we’d have a far different discussion going on today. In fact, there is a large part of America that actively fought (and is fighting) the changes.

When I was young, I too used to think those with racist attitudes were the “fringe” and mostly in the South, but my experiences (and the way the national dialog has been going for the past few years) indicates we clearly have a long way to go before the “anti-racism message” is received, understood, and internalized. You can’t help but see that everywhere you go!

“You gotta be a pretty bad mother fucker to look a kid in the eye and teach them racism.” Yes, sometimes it is overtly taught. I know people who have actually said they were taught specifically that certain races are inferior. Most often it is passed down, usually through daily interactions in the home. It is mostly learned by example.

Race is a social construct. One upon which this nation and society was built and it is a core piece of our national fabric. It is part of who we are as a nation. It will only cease to be a factor in our society if we recognize how integral race is to our existence and decide we no longer want it to be. We are not there yet. We have made significant progress, but there is still much work to do.

I suspect Jinn Liu’s feelings and experiences and reflections are significantly different than those of mine. I never felt the need to to suppress my ethnicity or my race and try to be “white.” I never had the desire to be more like my white friends or to be more “black” to fit in with my black friends and colleagues. I did know at an early age though that we were “different,” that we did not fit that ideal “standard’ you mentioned. And that did of course have an impact and influence on how I developed and interacted in the various “worlds” I inhabit. But I am also sure it is my skin color and not my hair color that is the differentiator. (Forgive me dismissing your example of solidarity, but it is not in any way equivalent.)

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