The Bigger Potato

Aug 19 2017

We have to keep breaking this down.

You say, “(S)he’s not a racist.” I say, “But (s)he takes systematic advantage over people of color.” You say again, “What do you mean? (S)he isn’t racist, though.”

Full stop. Take a deep breath. Let’s unpack this dialog, before we can’t have a dialog.

What I hear you mean is, “(S)he doesn’t believe in the categorical inferiority of other groups. Racism is an explicit philosophical belief, which (s)he doesn’t have. (S)he isn’t racist without this philosophical conviction.”

This an obvious form of racism, that reasonable people can agree is repugnant and wrong. We don’t have an explicit belief in the inferiority of another group of people. You’re missing something huge, gigantic, maybe the biggest part of racism. Right here, I’m not talking about the costume you wore at Halloween, or an insensitive thing you said, or a look you accidentally gave someone. For a moment, we’re just focusing on the other big potato, besides explicit philosophical conviction in the categorical lesser humanity of a group of human beings.

(S)he ran a political campaign, and attracted the support of some “genuine racists.” (S)he did not share their explicit beliefs. (S)he made no attempt to speak clearly and strongly against them, and discourage their vote, because (s)he benefited. Other people who also weren’t “genuine racists” liked other parts of what (s)he stood for, so held their noses and pulled the voting booth lever.

(S)he benefited directly from systematic advantage over people of color, hugely. (S)he gained great power, and made money. (S)he recognized inequality and privilege, and felt no moral imperative to correct it. (S)he pandered to her base, while a large fraction of it waved Nazi flags and donned white hoods. (S)he spoke to the other voters who couldn’t be “genuine racists,” because they didn’t hold an explicit philosophical belief in any group’s inferiority. (S)he reassured them, that they didn’t believe this, that they didn’t stand for it. Without holding this belief, without analyzing the reality to any sufficient degree, their actions, or lack, and their votes, made it clear that they put no priority on correcting systematic inequality, and that they actually didn’t value the lives of people of color. Full stop.

Tell me if these people were racist. Tell me if this is not the greater, uglier part of racism, by people who hold no explicit philosophical belief in the inferiority of another group of people. See if you can make your own peace with it, in private. If you feel something, acting with your conscience is better than shame.

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