My Open Letter to Conservatives
Conservative Black Man

A very well written piece. In my mind racism can be looked at in many ways. One way that your piece brought to mind was as personal and cultural racism. Personal racism is where people actively think about others they actually live near and interact with regularly and hate them — Italians and Poles in slums in the 19'th and 20'th centuries in the US exhibited that type of racism for example. Then there is the cultural racism exhibited by people who don’t know (or perhaps have ever even seen) the group that they hate. White people in Montana who have never seen an African American, Christians who have never met a Jew or Muslim but still actively work to disenfranchise them, create laws discriminating against them and teach their children to hate these groups are part of that. Also part of that are the people who have absorbed into their beliefs through their culture discriminatory attitudes, ideas of the inferiority of other groups and the need to “preserve” their ideas of the “good life” which by definition excludes outside groups. These cultural racists many times don’t even realize that they are racist. They just ‘know’ that they have these ‘correct’ beliefs, based in lies and superstition of course, that they follow so that they can continue to have the ‘good life’ they believe they deserve. Because they are ‘hard working’, ‘God fearing’, ‘right thinking’ people.

Your piece describes many of the attributes of these people, who are racist, without pointing out that they are racist. In a sense, you are giving all these people a pass, telling them they aren’t racist, just that they need to be more thoughtful (with an implication perhaps that once they become more thoughtful they will naturally shed their racist thinking). Unfortunately, my experience is that cultural racists, being blind to their own racism, are the hardest people to get to think about these issues and ultimately acknowledge they hold racist beliefs. I hope your piece does get some of these people to think about their own positions and certainly just bringing the issue up in such a thoughtful and well written way is a positive contribution, however in the end cultural racism in the past has only ever been successfully addressed through federal anti-discrimination laws. At least so far.

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