Against the Grain II

Reserve the term racist for actual racists

Vaughn Wilson

All too often we hear people say without much thought that someone is racist.  The term racist refers to an individual who is prejudiced against a person based on their affiliation with a group, usually against a minority. Racism has been a part of American culture from the time Christopher Columbus and his entourage killed and enslaved the native Americans who occupied the land they gave him credit for discovering.

In post-slavery times, the racist foundation of Jim Crow laws exacerbated the term as the entire basis of the Southern-based laws was to hamper those of the Black race.

Throughout history, post Jim Crow era, more covert implementations of racial discrimination exist to this day. Housing discrimination based on race, loan discrimination based on race and even hiring practices based on race. People that engage in these practices are indeed racists of the worst degree.

The term racist is one of the worst monikers you can attach to a person. It often equates one’s vision to that of the U.S. Confederacy… a division of folks who never wanted to see Blacks attain their full rights as U.S. citizens.

There are, however, people who have been called racist that do not fit the bill of the term.  Because of the deep and embarrassing narrative of being labeled as a racist and the fact that often one individual can mark another as racist by just saying so, the delicate balance of its overuse often degrades the actual effectiveness.

Because someone does not like you, doesn’t give you what you want or doesn’t see things as you do does not make them a racist.  People of different races can have differing opinions and not be a racist. Make no mistake, racism is alive and well in the United States of America. Pointing out those instances would take all of my columns for the coming year. Conversely, we must resist false claims of racism. Each false claim of racism cheapens the effect of detailing and confronting actual racist activity.

An individual who falsely claims another as racist is worse than a racist.  Because of the often immediate stigma attached to their names upon being called racist, family and friends of the accused are immediately set to defend themselves in a public forum that can virtually never be won by their own accounts. It is virtually impossible for an individual to make a case for himself against even the most remote subjugation of being attacked with that label.

Save the term racist for actual racists … there are plenty of them that deserve to actually wear the label.


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