There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. -- William Shakespeare


We're all racists now

You’ve seen, I’m sure, the post-election map showing “red” and “blue” areas of the nation.  The red is where Trump voters prevailed, the blue where Clinton voters prevailed.  As a general color scheme, you could say America looks to be a red place with some blue highlights. Certainly from a sufficiently high altitude, the proverbial “man from Mars” passing by Earth might see that we appear to be a red nation.

Now, let’s set aside for a moment what those colors actually represent—the predominant political leanings of the populations in those areas, and let’s also set aside the greater numbers of people living in those pockets where blue prevails.  (As you know, the heaviest concentrations of people are on the coasts and in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.  The result was, of course, that Clinton’s raw numbers were greater by nearly 2 million.)

Let’s instead pretend—just as a thought experiment--that the red represents the areas of the country where the Confederate flag is displayed on 50% + 1 of the homes (the majority, in other words), and the blue represents those areas where the flag is on fewer than 50% of homes.

If that were the map’s meaning instead of voting results, what conclusion would you reach about America?  Would you say, based on colors, that America was a “racist” nation?  Or would you instead say that we are NOT a racist nation because, for a larger number of people, the Confederate flag does not predominate?  I suspect most would call such a map proof of America’s “racism.” 

In other words, if all it took to conclude that America has prevailing “racist” sentiments was for just over half of a select population (that is already 2 million fewer than the others) to display the Confederate flag, then why are so many people unwilling to conclude that Trump’s win—which is based on the very same calculations--doesn’t and shouldn’t represent America’s political preferences?  If the 2 million vote difference in favor of Hillary means America does not prefer Trump, then why wouldn’t the same numbers—if they represented Confederate flag fans—mean we’re not a racist nation?




schencka on
Re: We're all racists now

There are a few ways to define “racism.” Two I like have different implications on who is “racist” based on how we define the term. One racism is prejudice of a person based on his or her skin color. Another is the belief that some races are superior to others. In the first, most Americans would say they do not pre-judge, but it’s apparent that our culture subconsciously teaches this kind of racism. In the latter, it seems like the recent election made it a little more acceptable for people to say that “our” group is superior to the “other” group.

I don’t think there’s much use to the binary thought experiment, Is the US racist or not? I would rather we define racism and its acts and implications and look at the effects. If we define “a racist nation” as one where structural, systemic barriers exist for people of different “races,” then it’s hard to say the US doesn’t at a minimum carry its racist past into the present.


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