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Why Do People Hate Being Called Racists but Don’t Mind Being Racists?


This is not only a question I’ve pondered many times over but also a question that I asked on Twitter recently and surprisingly enough, there were a few people who were open with their racism, but in reality, we know how untrue that is. Most people who are racists, in fact, hide behind a guise of righteousness and usually white evangelical bullsh-t.

Additionally, today, much more than ever, blatant racism comes with a cost. You might actually lose something, like your livelihood, so racism has transformed into a more covert yet still painfully overt operation. Coded language has now been even more necessary to them. There may be more penalties now for being racist, but laws still don’t stop people from getting speeding tickets. Today, the average racist may have dropped the inward a time or two but not consistently and only out of a fit of rage—if it ever really did occur—or whatever they tell themselves to feel better about how they feel someone else is worse, just because of how they look. 

Growing up, I experienced a lot of racism, and I can still count on one hand the number of times I was called a “n-gger,” which was more than enough, but less in comparison to the racism I received because most of the racism was never blatant. From teachers and administration, it usually came in the form of disbelief in my abilities, whether that was doubt that I could accomplish and excel at a task or that the task that I accomplished and excelled at was worthy of praise even when I outperformed my peers. When it came to my peers, it was a bit more innocuous. It was much more built on miscoded information about Black people in general or how my Blackness was somehow voided because either they found me attractive enough or smart and palatable enough to occupy the same spaces with them. 

The initial astonishment of why I was in advanced courses wore off with them a lot easier than the teachers because we had a longer tenure together. I would watch their parents stutter over compliments or give backhanded ones, unironically. I am not sure, as someone who’s made most of her money as a writer and a speaker, that “she’s so well spoken,” was genuine or genuinely weird.  My peers othered me in order to compartmentalize how this Black girl, the one with whom they were friends, and invited over, and felt good around, felt different than what they were taught Black people were, and as many of them who were allowed to be individuals.

My Blackness, even as they tried to stretch me from it in order to justify why they liked me, still had to be a model for what other Black people experienced because that’s how racism works. It takes away your identity and makes you a problem even when you are not, even when you excel. 

I can never respect racism, but at the very least, I can eliminate some of my frustration when it comes to someone who is blatant about it; there is no clandestineness in their insecurity, I mean, unless, of course, they are wearing a hood because again, what fun is racism, if you can’t deny you were there?

I often liken racism to playing keep-away. 

There you are, in the middle of two racists, because at least two people have to agree that you are inferior in order for there to be systemic harm, as they play keep-away with your possessions. Your education. Your house. Your interest rates. Your land—the things that you value the most, and all you have to do is get them back. “We aren’t holding you back…what’s the problem…if it’s yours, why can’t you just come and take it back from me.” As you stand in the middle of bullsh-t and condescension, trying not to dizzy yourself from the exhaustion, the racists laugh as they have now gaslit you, not only about your possessions but your ability to have them and their denial about keeping you from accessing them. Racism is built on the lie that no matter how dumb the racist is, he is still smarter than the person whom he torments, and if just by chance that person is smarter than him, then it must be Affirmative Action, because ain’t no way.

The denial and condescension are so strong that even their purveyors begin to believe it, even if those whose lawns are charred with the emblems of their love for Jesus and hate for his children, don’t. 

And speaking of Jesus, in a world where you can believe a white savior was born in the Middle East and that the Middle Eastern white savior somehow gave divine right to rule to inbred Europeans with disjointed jaws and hemophilia. That genocide and colonization somehow benefited the cultures and people it crushed.

Well, hell, you can believe any goddamn thing. 

You can believe that you are a pure and a good person because the Bible said so. You can believe any transgression you commit is washed away, even if the person whom you hurt is still affected by your actions, but especially if you don’t feel that person is really a person, at least in the intellectual sense. Even the most far-right nationalist groups are coincidentally also extremely religious because God, guns and country. But again, it’s that religion that disallows a clear focus on actions. 

Accountability is a hard thing for most humans, but especially when you benefit greatly from that lack of accountability. In a world where white families’ generational wealth was built on post-New Deal FHA loans and Black families were and are still redlined, it is easy for people to turn that criticism onto Black communities. In a world where segregation was still happening in public schools in the 1970s and Black schools were and still are underfunded, it is easy to accuse Black people of not being as dedicated to education or being less intelligent, and any sign of intelligence can immediately be disavowed as merely a result of Affirmative Action. 

The worst thing a racist could see is a Black person having something that they have, and there is an immediate need to dismiss the merit in which their accomplishment or possession is achieved. A nice car must be the result of drug dealing. Going to a top-tier school must be the result of Affirmative Action. A full belly must be from food stamps. Admitting that your views are wrong is admitting that you are wrong. Admitting that you are racist requires admitting that you are not inherently superior, that your accomplishments, while you may have earned them in earnest, are still supported by a society that wants you to win, and that win may have come at the cost of someone who was much more well equipped. 

That’s a blow to the ego. That’s admitting that the race you won was because of your race. That’s a hard pill to swallow for a group of people who can see God but can’t see color. 

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