I’ve had numerous conversations regarding how racism is defined and, by extension, what constitutes racism. As a white man, I can tell you that many white people I know define racism as a test of how one treats black people, hence the old irony, “some of my best friends are…”. That test of racism is irrelevant to the point of imbecility.
Based on my experience and research, racism is best defined as the act of relying upon race as a determinant in situations when it is not. This works with all races in every direction.
He who automatically assumes that any specific gain made by a particular person is due solely to his or her race is a racist. She who automatically assumes that negative actions by a particular person are reflective of the presumed deficiency of his or her race is a racist. It’s rarely more complicated than that.
Racism can be manifested in actions, but it is not defined by them. Racism is always defined by internal processes. It occurs in the heart and mind, well before actions are carried out. What you do has little to do with racism. What you think does.
So, how can you tell if you’re a racist? Here are some examples:
1. Although you never say the word “nigger”, you wish you could. You use the shop-worn excuse that black people use the word, (proving that you have already rationalized its use), yet don’t do so purely out of political correctness. You believe that your non-use of the word proves your beneficence.
2. You are offended by the word “cracker”, even though there is no historical context of oppression for white people related to that word. You use it as an excuse to justify your unfulfilled entitlement to say “nigger”. One is not the intellectual counterweight for the other. There is no white version of “nigger”, since there is no history of black oppression of whites in the United States. It stands alone in offensiveness to those to whom it is directed.
3. You are offended whenever you find a group with their own TV station, newspaper, social organization, or political party. You complain that there is no such exclusive group for your race, religion or political party. You miss the point that those in the majority are already in charge, and so rarely need groups of these types. An example is parades for various nationalities and other groups. If your nationality is the dominant one in a society, then there are few reasons to remind others of your heritage, since it is on display all the time.
If you are not missing out on opportunities for jobs, housing and societal advancement due solely to your race, you have nothing to complain about.
4. You complain about advancement programs for minorities, referring to these practices as “reverse racism”. This is a pet peeve of mine. Calling anything “reverse racism” suggests that there is some kind of “forward” or “regular” racism. This sounds conspicuously as if one kind were normal and the other one abnormal. All racism is racism. It doesn’t go forward or backward. Regarding the justifications for the aforementioned advancement programs, refer to the last sentence of #3.
I will conclude with one example that is not in the numbered group, since, to me, it stands out among them all.
Your race is clearly in the majority and yet you worry that it is descending to minority status, as members of other nationalities and races increase in number. The fear that a group other than your own will someday take over is the most telling form of racism.
It betrays the cowardice of those who fear that the new, coming majority will treat you as badly as you’ve treated them.