I Am Rubber and You are Glue: America’s Gut Response to Racism

by Derek Scarlino

What’s with the reverse logic that’s been increasingly rising among whites, right wingers, libertarian-types and even Blacks like Allen West? In specific, why is it when someone observes and comments on racism, they are themselves called “racist”?

Take the following video for example, currently trending on social media and YouTube:

That’s right. If you watched it through, a man who has clearly profiled a Black man in his (believed to be North Minneapolis) neighborhood, replies to the accusation with an accusation of his own: The Black guy is the real racist here.

Where is the logic in this response now so oft-repeated by citizens and pundits?

Even commenters on the video mention how the Black guy should not have brought up race. Yes. After watching a man pull out a gun on someone and explain that he sees drug dealers all the time, which is a tacit confession of conflating Blacks with drug dealers and in essence, racial profiling, some people see no point in bringing up race.

This is a stupid game we’re playing. Reversing the accusation on those who make initial observations of racism is the type of deflection from blame seen in eight-year-olds. Are we talking about social issues or farts?

The United States needs dialogue on race, not escapism. We need adult conversation, not “I know you are, but what am I?”

Racist?

Anyway, being “colorblind” is an extension of privilege. How nice of white people to remind their Black friends that they live in a society where the lighter tone of their skin makes certain that they never have to make extra considerations for their looks or actions in public.

Calling someone racist because they’ve pointed out racism is illogical. It’s not projection of hidden racist feelings. If, say, you profile someone walking through your neighborhood and get called on it, you can’t cover your ass by calling them racist. Got it, Pee Wee?

Racism and racist actions can be mutually exclusive. We can hold no negative opinions about other races, but we can still certainly be offensive in a racist way without intending to be so or even realizing it.

Being white comes with privileges in American society. Again, a large part of privilege rests on the fact that whites do not have to make the considerations based on appearance that minorities do. Even when we think we’re being harmless, making jokes about stereotypes, we’re still reminding friends of other races that they’re different. That their experiences sometimes feel like chores.

A white person who makes a disparaging or accusatory comment about Blacks might not be racist, ignorant likely, but it’s not a signifier for full-on racist beliefs; racism is much deeper than that and takes into account the validation of wide-ranging racial superiority. But whites need to understand, they’re not Black (or Asian or Hispanic, etc.); comments about Blacks are not seen the same way when they come from white mouths.

Men, this applies to your comments about women, too, but that’s an argument for another time.

In any case, sure, racially-charged statements are not always taken offensively, but they can be correctly identified as racist. You don’t have to be blind to walk into something. You don’t have to be a bad driver to have a car accident. You don’t even have to be a criminal to be killed by the police.

It is the idea that racism is reserved only for people donning white, pointy hoods which is at issue here. It’s just not true. While the KKK is a structurally racist organization through and through, the qualifiers for racist acts are not exclusive only to people like them who openly advocate racial superiority.

That this man in the video above decided to “investigate” the presence of two Black men near his home doesn’t make him racist (I’m sure his “best friend is Black”), but that he’s basing the probability that they’re drug dealers on the color of their skin, which, again, he tacitly implies without skipping a beat, is racist.

This is where whites need to calm down. Given the racial tensions in the latter half of 2014, we have a great opportunity to explore this type of privilege which nearly abolishes any need on behalf of whites to think about race on a daily basis. We can also explore the differences between full-fledged racism and making flippant racial comments. Like a dipshit.

That many whites are somehow surprised that complete strangers take offense to their actions and words is also entitlement. People think that they have the right to say what they want when they want, as if social responsibility isn’t part of the contract they undertake living in a given society like the United States. Your First amendment right protects you from government censorship. Not criticism from your peers, leveled at you horizontally because you feel you have a right to say offensive things while somehow believing nobody has the right to take offense.

If I say something offensive, then you cannot be offended. Because freedom.

That’s not how it works.

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