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“The biggest problem through the history of man is the fact that racism is anything but an anomaly” – Erik Hansen

Frankly, I get sick of the topic of racism.  It exhausts me and generally leaves me in a very bad mood.  And to boot, I think most ‘discussions’ and accusations are pretty lame, which makes it even more difficult to achieve anything productive out a very difficult, emotional,  and personal conversation.  BUT, I think we need to talk about it.  In new and better ways.

I think one huge divide (maybe the biggest) that makes this a very hazardous conversation is huge gap between the definitions of racism from those being accused of racism and those accusing another.

Racism definition from the accused:

  1. A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
  2. A policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
  3. Abusive or aggressive behavior towards members of another race on the basis of such a belief
  4. Hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

By this definition, I am guessing that most of us pass the test of not being racist.

Racism definition from those accusing:

“Lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection” – Martin Luther King, Jr

By this definition, I am guessing that all of us, regardless of race, fail the test.

So… to bridge the gap between accused and accuser, I have come up with a racism spectrum to help us all when we say either “I’m not racist” or “You’re racist,” I have created categories of the different types of racism I have experienced, witnessed, read about, or participate in.  In the spirit of openness, I think I have been guilty of 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11,12, 13, 15,16.   Which means to me that even though I have never joined the Klan or advocated for a law that keeps anyone oppressed, and even more,  I actually have a black friend, I would have to say that by some definitions, I have a history of racism more than I would like to admit.

Here are my categories (I think the best and most honest ways to view these is beyond white and black, to assess yourself as both the accused and accuser, and to think through this beyond American/contemporary history).

  1. Radical Racism – fighting and extreme actions against other races.
  2. Intentional Racism – knowingly prejudice and supportive of actions against another race.
  3. Ignorant Racism – unknowingly prejudice, but generally unsupportive of outright actions against another race.
  4. Lazy Racism – not really paying attention to world around me and thinking that since I’m not racist (ie:  radical or intentional), than racism isn’t really a big deal and impacts only a small % of people.
  5. Trumped Black Card Racism – since the race card is played ‘too much’, the ability to correctly play the race card is lost (or since the President is Black…).
  6. Legal Racism – laws that favor a race and oppress another race.
  7. Culturally Accepted Racism – cultural norms that favor a race and oppress another race.
  8. Systemic Racism – combination of legal and cultural accepted racism that has created systems that work for one race and against other races.
  9. Beneficial Racism – a person who is not supportive of racism, but reaps benefits (knowingly or unknowlingly) of being in the ‘majority’ race due to past and present systemic, legal, and culturally accepted racism.
  10. Reverse Racism – to compensate for past racism, groups who experience intentional, systemic, legal, and culturally accepted racism get ‘unfair’ advantages.
  11. Stereotypic Racism – lumping individuals of a race into the characteristics (real and perceived) of the whole race.
  12. Confusing Racism – A Spike Lee joint can drop the ‘N’ word but a Quentin Tarantino movie can’t.
  13. Superhero Racism – when people try to do good by helping ‘those’ people out, but are unintentionally trying to turn ‘those people’ into ‘us.’
  14. Narcissistic Racism – when one group thinks they are the only group that experiences racism, often resulting in intentional or ignorant racism of another group.
  15. Advocate Voiced Racism – when a person for a majority group has to speak on behalf of a group so that ‘other group’s needs can be heard and that those people are validated.
  16. Neurotic Racism – having had negative experiences at the hands of another race (real and perceived), the expectation is that all people of that race will do the same thing for the same reasons.

Having said all that, I actually think classism has become an even bigger problem than racism and that if we were all the same race, we would figure something else out to fight over (examples:  as in Russia, Ireland, Korea, Sudan, etc..).

Categories: Race
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