Can You Believe That Black People Are An Inferior Race & Still Be A Decent Person?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

By David Grace (

Two Questions

  • What is white racism? And
  • Does believing in the principles of white racism mean that you’re automatically a bad person?

White Racism

White racism is the belief that there is an inherent, genetic superiority in members of the white race over members of the black and brown races.

In 1861 the principle of white racism was accepted as fact by most white person in the Confederacy.

The Cornerstone Of The Confederacy Was White Racism

A few weeks before the Civil War the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, said that the Confederacy’s cornerstone “. . . rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination [of blacks] to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world [that is] based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

The South started the Civil War to protect the principle that black people were sub-human, not people, not children of God, but were merely animals like mules and cattle that could be owned, enslaved, raped and killed at will by white people without sin.

Over 600,000 men were killed in the war the people of the South started and fought to protect the great “moral truth” of white racism.

After the Civil War the people of the South instituted and enforced the policy of segregation based on their belief that black people were sub-human, not people, not children of God, but rather a race that was so inferior to the white race that blacks should not be allowed to eat with, go to school with, ride on buses with, urinate with or in any material way associate with members their superior white race.

Many White People Still Believe That Blacks Are An Inferior Race

Today, people all over America still believe that the fundamental principle of white racism is factually true and for many of them the slogan “Make America Great Again” really means “Make America White Again.”

Many white people still believe that the principle of white racism is factually true, though they don’t usually express the idea of black racial inferiority in the extreme terms of white people being entitled to be slave owners and that black people’s genetic destiny is to be slaves.

Today it’s more subtle, more of a feeling, an assumption, that “those people” just aren’t as good as we are.

In Episode 1 of Season 4 of All In The Family, Archie Bunker was scheming to keep a Puerto Rican family from buying the empty house next door. Mike was upset about what Archie was doing and asked him:

  • You don’t call that crooked?
  • No. That’s looking out for number 1.
  • Where does that place Mr. Jefferson? [The black man already living in the neighborhood.]
  • He’s number 2.
  • Why is Jefferson number 2?
  • Because, Meathead, there can only be one number 1 and one number 2 and life made Jefferson number 2 long before I come along.
  • So then Puerto Ricans are number 3 then, huh Daddy?
  • Well not necessarily there, Little Girl. Your Puerto Ricans can be 4. Your Japs and your Chinks can be 3–3A and 3B.

Are Racists Necessarily Bad People?

I ask myself: Can people who support the foundation principle of white racism still be decent people?

It Can’t Be Wrong If It’s True

Racists say that their belief in the inferiority of the black race has nothing to do with being a good or a bad person because the inferiority of the black race is simply a factual truth, that black people are biologically inferior to white people so no moral component can be attached to their recognition of that truth.

A Self-Invented Claim

There is no genetic evidence that the brains of black people are different in any way whatsoever from those of white people. IQ tests are notoriously dependent on cultural and life-experience factors and are not able to accurately compare the native intelligence of different races, even if there were an agreement about what we mean by intelligence.

There are, in fact, different kinds of intelligence, high levels of skill and facility in different endeavors. Sheldon Cooper may be a genius at math but he’s unable to fathom even the most common social conventions. In one area he is very smart. In another, amazingly stupid.

Spare Me Your Defense Of The Principle Of White Racism

I could write an entire column on the assimilation of minorities, their employment mobility, and class cultural values; the similarities and differences between the assimilation and advancement of Irish, Italian, Asian and Black lower classes; the massive changes in job and educational opportunities between 1900 and today; the effect of unionization and loss of unionized jobs on social mobility — all to the point that black people’s economic and social standing tells us nothing about black people as a race, so spare me your claims of inherent racial inferiority based on current earning power.

Moving on.

The Difference Between Racism & Other Failed Theories

A stubborn belief in a self-serving idea for which there is no reliable proof is, in itself, an indication of stupidity rather than intelligence.

But there is a crucial difference between believing the claims of white racism and espousing other discredited theories. Whether you believe most of the other nonsensical notions people cling to doesn’t usually affect anyone else.

Without any reliable evidence, you can stubbornly insist all you want that the earth is flat, that Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon, or that Elvis is still alive, and your crackpot ideas aren’t going to impact anyone other than yourself.

But when you claim that black people are an inferior race who deserve to be subordinate to white people or that Jews and Slavic people are inferior races that are like germs that should be expelled from white societies, your notions do affect others in very damaging ways.

Those People

I have friends who are in almost every way good people, but get a couple of drinks in them and give them a push in the right direction and you start to hear the phrase “those people.”

  • “You have to watch yourself around those people.”
  • “You don’t want to be involved with those people.”
  • “Those people can’t be trusted.”
  • “Those people don’t want to work”
  • “Those people are animals”
  • “Stay away from there. That place is full of those people.”

Occasionally, you’ll hear, “He’s one of the smart ones” or “He’s one of the good ones,” the implication being that this one black person is the rare exception to the rule of the inferiority of black people.

Earl Butz, Gerald Ford’s Secretary of Agriculture, famously said: “I’ll tell you what the coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit.”

Earl Butz and all his friends would tell you that his believing in the principle of black racial inferiority didn’t make him a bad person.

When Mr. Ego said that there were good people among the Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists in Charlottesville he was saying that believing that black people are an inferior race does not make you a bad person.

He was telling America that you can be both a racist and a good person.

Is he right?

What Does It Take To Tip The Scale?

At what point does one personal flaw so taint someone that you can no longer call them a good person?

How much weight do you have to put on one side of the scale before the arm tips over?

Hitler Was Nice To His Dog

There’s the old line about Hitler being nice to his dog and Ted Bundy never forgetting his mother’s birthday. Of course, we know that’s not enough to make up for what they did, not being enough to tip their personal scale back in the good-person column.

Even though the eighth-grade gym teacher may have been a wonderful man in many ways, we know that his propensity to molest one or two vulnerable boys every term would pretty much knock him out of the “good person” category.

It’s Not A Crime If They’re Not Really Human

During the ’40s, 50’s, and 60s black people were being lynched and their churches were being burned while all those God-fearing, white southerners who proclaimed that Jesus Christ was their savior closed their eyes, said nothing, continued to elect segregationist mayors and sheriffs, and acquitted the rare white person who ever saw the inside of a courtroom, all under the belief that black people were an inferior race who were not children of their God, so none of what was done to them was actually, morally wrong.

They said they believed in the Lord and swore to follow the principles of Jesus Christ then they walked out of church and looked the other way so that they couldn’t see their neighbors and their policemen beating and hanging black people because according to the principles of white racism, black people weren’t really people at all, so whatever happened to them didn’t count.

Were those white believers in the principle of white racism good and decent people?

At what point does a person’s toxic beliefs tip the moral scale over to the other side?

You tell me.

— David Grace (

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David Grace

David Grace


Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.