What is a Racist?
I grew up in a small, sleepy town in Northwestern Washington State. We were mostly white. In fifth grade, we got a new student, named Buddy. Buddy was black and, when he first entered our classroom, you could see the fear in his eyes. I don’t know where he came from, but being in a new town was obviously a big deal for him. The response from all our class? Universally, we declared Buddy the coolest kid we had ever seen.
He had a green leather jacket, a “big city” haircut and a very friendly attitude. Despite all that, part of the reason we were so drawn to Buddy was because he was different; because he was black.
Was that racist?
When I moved to the “big city,” there was much more cultural diversity. While I chose to live in a neighborhood that attracted all types, races, creeds, mostly, there were sections of town. There were black neighborhoods, Asian neighborhoods, rich neighborhood, poor neighborhoods.
Black friends told me horror stories about cops failing to respond to calls in poor, black neighborhoods. About being singled out for suspicion by the police. About how hard it was to be black in a white world. I listened, learned and was moved. I have no doubt these stories were accurate personal experiences.
Then, when I was looking for a cheap apartment, I moved into a building across from Seattle’s version of the “projects,” in a traditionally black neighborhood. When I shopped at the store, people pushed in front of me in line, saying “Get out of my way, white boy.” I was called “poor white trash” on a daily basis, and often threatened with violence, even by self-empowered school children who had been clearly taught to hate everyone white.
When I had the necessity to call the police on my neighbors (who were also white, incidentally) the cops didn’t come. When I tried to hail a taxi in the neighborhood, the cabs refused to stop, despite the fact they had their available lights on.
I clearly wasn’t wanted in the neighborhood.
Was that racist?
If you ask a modern liberal, or a person of color, I was more racist for singling out Buddy in a positive light due to his color than any of the black people who mistreated me and threatened me with violence were. Why? Because I am white.
There is still a cultural misconception in this country: that white people are racists and only white people. It’s a lie, and it’s a lie being sold to people of color. White guilt, political correctness. It’s all a lie. Reverend Wright supposedly said recently that working was “acting like a white person.” What’s the alternative to working? Welfare?
Recently, a black woman who lived in my apartment building moved out. She enlisted the help of two men, one white and one black, to help her. While they did all the work, she ran around on her cellphone coordinating a dinner party with friends at her new place. She walked past the courtyard where a bunch of us were sitting and proclaimed, “Now I know what slavery is like!” And she was serious.
The lie is that we are a certain skin color first and Americans second. People of color have made huge progress in this country. Women have made huge progress in this country. Is our work done now that we have a black president? Absolutely not! But, increasingly, it seems we’re finding a person of color is every bit as racist as a white person.
We aren’t African Americans, Asian Americans, Caucasian Americans, etc. We are American Africans, American Asians and American Caucasians. We are American Liberals and American Conservatives. Our common thread is being American, and when we place the emphasis where it should lie, these petty differences fall to the wayside.
We, liberal and conservative alike, denounce the KKK. We denounce this country’s sad history of slavery. But we do so forgetting there were black plantation owners who themselves owned African slaves. We denounce segregation, but we forget black Americans fought side by side with whites in the Revolutionary War. The military wasn’t segregated until Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat.)
We see racism as a white problem, leaving all other people free to embrace racial hatred of the evil white man without guilt, or even intellectual introspection.
The fact is, not all black people are the same, not all Latinos are the same, not all Asians are the same, but somehow all white people are.
When I was a young man, my pastor took our catechism class around to various churches. We visited Catholics, Methodists and Jews. We were told, our first name is Lutheran and our last name is Christian. We were all Christians and that was the important thing. Of course, that left out the Jews, but when the Rabbi opened the synagogue doors and explained his religion to us, we came to understand all of us shared a common belief in the same God.
Well, we all of us share a common belief in the same country. Currently, we are of wide disagreement on how that country should function, but we spend less time talking about that than in tossing stones. This is, quite frankly, a mostly liberal problem. Liberals need to “own” minorities. They need to repaint history as a history of liberals protecting minority civil rights while evil conservatives fought against them. This is a lie. It is a lie!
The easiest way to discredit any conservative movement is to declare it racist. When conservatives point out how many people of color are involved in these movements, the people of color are called Uncle Toms, or whatever term for “race traitor” applies to that particular group.
This is a lie!
On a feminist website, a woman recently ranted against Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal for being the “wrong type” of South Asian, because they didn’t represent “our people.” Yes, they do. They represent Americans, and Americans are our people.
You might ask yourself why? Why would a liberal paint the TEA Party as racist, rather than focus on the issues? Why would Alan Colmes say it’s perfectly OK for Obama to lie about raising taxes, but not George H.W. Bush, as he did on Megyn Kelly’s show today?
We are one people! We can celebrate our cultural heritage within the framework of being Americans. We can lift up those who are impoverished and disenfranchised by giving them opportunity. American opportunity. We can denounce racism, hatred and bigotry together, as Americans, but not if we misrepresent what it is: a white problem.
Racism isn’t just about hating someone of a different color. Racism is the mistaken notion a person is defined by the color of his or her skin. As long as we divide along those lines, we actively support it. We empower racism by pretending what happened 200 years ago is more important than what’s happening now. Racism doesn’t define me as a conservative. And, if all you see when you see me is another white “teabagger” then you’re buying the lie. And that lie will keep you down more surely than any fiscal policy ever will.