I, Racist
John Metta
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// Mr. Metta, though perhaps well intentioned, has lost track somewhere along the line of what it actually means to be racist, so let’s step back for just one second and remind ourselves:
// “Racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
// Racist: a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another” — Google search
// Mr. Metta admits early in his sermon that, “I don’t talk about race with White people because I have so often seen it go nowhere. When I was younger, I thought it was because all white people are racist. Recently, I’ve begun to understand that it’s more nuanced than that.” Apparently it’s not very nuanced however, because many paragraphs later, approaching the end of his speech, Mr. Metta proclaims that, “White people, every single one of you, are complicit in this racism because you benefit directly from it.”
// Benefiting from a broken system doesn’t mean that you that you agree that system should be the way it is, and it certainly doesn’t mean you agree with the twisted views that made it that way in the first place. The fact that a white person isn’t out on the street corner every day yelling that black people aren’t treated fairly doesn’t mean they have a belief that all black people are inferior (see definitions above).
// Mr. Metta suggests that part of our difference in world views comes from the fact that, “Black people think in terms of Black people.” I would pause here, to point out that I doubt ALL Black people do feel this way, but I understand what he is talking about. It is a strong sense of community and group think that was deliberately (and justifiably) reinforced during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. The movement urged American black people to think of themselves as a united front, and as Mr. Metta does, to view the killing or mistreatment of any Black individual as something that was done to the entire community. It was a defensive world view necessitated by a system that was indeed, openly racist.
// However, this group mentality is maintained by many today, and used to defend the actions of individuals, even when they do not deserve to be defended. These individuals, all individuals, should be judged on their own actions, not on the color of their skin. Being black does not make you innocent, any more than it makes you guilty, and being white does not make an individual a racist. (Again, believing that all members of a race are inherently superior or inferior to another race is what makes someone a racist.)
// Mr. Metta claims that “the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals” is a privilege exclusive to the white community. However, I believe it is a privilege available to anyone who is willing to look at the world in terms of individuals rather than attempting to clump people into uniform races and judge them all by the color of their skin.
// Unfortunately for Mr. Metta, viewing people as individuals would mean he must let go of some of his own beliefs.
// The fact that some white individuals are racists DOES NOT make ALL white people racist.
// The fact that an individual believes, “all white people, every single one of you” are anything, DOES make that individual (Mr. Metta) a racist.
// Mr. Metta scoffs at the idea that it is even possible for a black individual to be racist, and asks “Does any intelligent person actually believe a systematically oppressed demographic has the ability to oppress those in power?” Again, Mr. Metta seems confused on what racism actually is, so I repeat, “Racism [is] the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” It is not a question of whether or not the demographic you associate yourself with is in power or not. It is a question of whether or not YOU as an INDIVIDUAL are judging people based solely on their race. You (Mr. Metta) do exactly that, and in doing so, YOU (Mr. Metta) are being racist.
// Does racism still exist? Absolutely. Do I believe it should be found and stopped, both when perpetuated by individuals, and in its institutionalized forms? Absolutely. But when someone (Mr. Metta) claims that all white people are complicit in racism, it solves nothing, and understandably, it elicits a defensive response. When you claim individuals are guilty of something (even racism) based only on the color of their skin, you are being a racist.

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