Six Snazzy New Ways To Be Totally
Racist, Without That Horrid
Racist Smell

Ijeoma Oluo
Mar 25, 2015 · 3 min read

By Ijeoma Oluo

Hey you. Racists. No, not you with the Confederate flag sending out “Obama is a monkey” emails. You, over there: closet racist. It’s time for a talk.

The racism that you’ve been quietly sliding across the table at us for years has become pretty darn obvious lately. You may not think much of our deductive skills, but when we see the same condescension and coded language time and time again — well, we start to pick up on it. As Jay Smooth said, if your defense was a Robin Thicke song, you’d be sued for plagiarism. If you aren’t careful, people are going to stop believing that you are really “just asking a question” “playing devil’s advocate.” Heck — we may even start to suspect that you do see color and that it is about race.

We all know that as important as that white supremacy is to you, it’s even more important that it look like it isn’t important to you. One must have standards. But don’t worry my dear “not racist” friends — I’m here to help! I’ve come up with some fresh new coded language so you can oppress all those brown folks, but with class.

Problem word: Ethnic.

We’ve all figured out that this is a ridiculous word for “Not White People.” Also, who isn’t “ethnic”? Why not replace it with “Friends of Jamaal”? Slightly less arbitrary than “ethnic” and it has the word “friend” in it, so it seems cuddly.

Problem word: Thug.

Richard Sherman ruined it for you when he pointed out that you were using “thug” instead of the “n” word. How will you show your irrational fear of black men now? Switch it out for “ruffian,” a fun, throwback word that hasn’t been used regularly for decades, so it will take a while for people to figure out that you mean nigger.

Problem word: Reverse-Racist.

Ok, we’ve all figured out this isn’t a thing and you just want brown people to shut up. So how do you get the focus back on you where it belongs? Next time someone wants to discuss the racism they face, simply say, “Don’t be so melanin-focused.”

Problem word: Single Mothers.

Ok, I know it’s two words. Also, I know that “single mothers” aren’t actually a problem. But the way you use it is. It’s a little hard to believe that they’re the cause of wealth inequality, the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, job discrimination, substandard health care and food deserts. You know what’s a little easier to believe? Poverty and Mass Incarceration Goblins. There’s no data proving that goblins are the cause of problems in brown communities… but there’s no data proving they aren’t the cause either.

Problem word: Developing Nation.

This word is just starting to out itself as the icky replacement for “Third World” which was itself a replacement for “The places we pillaged.” Instead try Zamunda, the fake country from Coming to America. It’s just as offensively stereotyped, Eurocentric and inaccurate as “Developing Nation” but with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall.

Problem word: Black-on-Black Crime.

We get it, it’s really hard when people are talking about police brutality to actually say “Hey, look over there!” and run away — at least on the internet. Try “Kevin Hart Movies” instead. While black-on-black crime may not distract us, we can all agree that Kevin Hart movies are a plague on the black community and must be stopped.

Log in to Medium and “recommend” this story.
Follow Matter on Twitter | Like us on Facebook | Subscribe to our newsletter


The original flagship publication of Medium

Ijeoma Oluo

Written by

Come for the feminist rants..stay for the selfies and kid quotes. Inclusive feminism here.



The original flagship publication of Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade