Hey, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s bring up that whole “What is racism?” discussion again. That’s always good for a few laughs. And nobody ever gets riled up to fight.
Yes, one of my recent posts brought in more critical comments and hate mail than usual. In it, I expressed my opinion that racism requires bigotry plus power. As such, in America, white people can be racist, while ethnic minorities don’t have the cultural potency to express pure racism.
Of course, I didn’t come up with this definition. It’s been around for years, and millions of people agree with it. In all likelihood, millions more disagree with it.
When I wrote the post, this definition of racism wasn’t even my main point, nor did I think it would garner more than a few derisive comments. As such, I was surprised when so many people lashed out, repeatedly. It was a rare moment of naivety on my part.
I addressed the fallout in this post, but I have to add a couple of points.
First, we have to acknowledge our different perspectives. As I’ve written before, calling a white person a racist is about the worst insult that can be leveled at them.
For this reason, it is in the white person’s interest to believe that this derogatory term is not reserved solely for them. It lessens the sting if anybody can be racist. Conversely, it’s in the ethnic minority’s interest to say, “You’re not pinning yet another horrible label on me; that one is all about you.”
Second, and on a more personal level, I still believe that most of the people who disagreed with me have sincere and principled arguments. However, it was impossible to miss a creepy subtext within a tiny minority of attack missives.
Clearly, some individuals were not used to having their opinions questioned, and grew quite irritated at my refusal to say, “OK, you win.” I can only assume that they have some degree of cultural power, and they need others to acknowledge that.
I can only ponder why that is.