I Don’t Feel Angry So I Can’t Be Racist

By | November 21, 2016

I run a community discussion open to all the residents in our area. I get a lot of people who come through, some only once or twice, and the biggest issue by far is being “called” a racist, because people (rightly, IMO) feel that being racist is bad.

I never do call them racist.

I self-identify as racist, and walk through what that means, because it frees me to stop defending something I am pretending isn’t true.

I don’t—and won’t—call them racist. It’s not useful, and it sets up barriers.

But.

I walk them through how we make individual choices in life, for good or bad, often due to shorthand needs for a quick decision, and that we often make shorthand decisions based upon what we think about the final result and the people affected by it, including us. Buying a home, Getting a hotel. Finding a restaurant. Walking through town. We make instant judgments upon what we want and find desireable.

All these things are ordinary and natural, and there is nothing wrong with Bob’s Burgers vs. Bob’s BBQ. Tastes differ.

But some of us have the ability to make decisions that affect others — there is power in the decision; we wield it, and we wield it for our own needs. We want good schools, so we move into homes where there are good schools. And then we exclude people who might bring down the value of our schools because they are not good-school people. We say it’s class or income or values, but the data shows it is not class or income or values *as much as* the race of the person.

None of the actions that lead us to living in a community seem to be overtly based on race–but all along the way there are multiple choices where we use our shorthand decider, and never do we have the aha moment that “Hey, this decision was based on race.”

But when the results are sorted out, and the decisions always seem to go a certain way where race is the primary factor — then what else can we say?

It is like this all along the entire decision tree paths that are our lives. We have been inculcated into this way of deciding, which seems harmless, but which inevitably leads to us having the power and wealth and comfort and attention, and others being excluded.

When something keeps happening because of the decisions people make, even unconsciously, then that something can be discovered if we look for it.

We found it.

White people vote for themselves, and vote to empower themselves over the lives and success of others.

This is not a mystery.

It just is.

The things we can do as adults are to admit that it happens, examine ourselves, and if we have moral integrity, do the hard work to fix it at every level we can affect.

Not everyone can do everything, and not everything can be done, but saying it’s too hard to do isn’t an option.

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.