There Is No Racism Problem Here

I have always taken an interest in what people post on online comment sections, whether it is on newspaper articles or YouTube videos. A lot of people think that racist comments on these forums are all the work of “trolls”- people who deliberately make inflammatory comments for the sake of starting arguments. If we can pass off all racist online comments as the work of trolls, then we can imagine that there isn’t a single racist person online and that the internet is the idyllic bastion of tolerance and democracy.

However, plenty of research suggests that the anonymity of online forums just makes it more likely for people to embrace their prejudice. The book I linked to is just one source I used in a paper concerning this phenomena. A lot of online forums accept pseudonyms, and even if they link to social media, some people may still be bold enough to post racist comments since they can customize their privacy settings on these platforms. Unlike a face-to-face interaction, it is unlikely that there will be consequences for racist statements. I was reading an article in the Howard Journal of Communications that also studied how racists can become emboldened online,specifically on newspaper comment sections, since their racist comments or rants are often supported online. This then creates an echo-chamber where racists dominate discussion and silence more civilized conversations. There is no democratic debate.

This is to say that I don’t think I am over-analyzing when I pay attention to the comments people make online.  One common narrative that I have found on IMDB and YouTube is the idea that some countries don’t have the same racism that America does. I have seen such comments on videos or boards for films like 12 Years A Slave and Selma. The basic gist is that “my country has no problem with black people, either historically or now”, and typically comes from European users. Historically I would beg to differ. America’s history of slavery may be the most prominent but numerous European countries participated in the slave trade.

12-years-a-slave

Present day, my biggest issue with this argument is that it ignores one of the unfortunate realities of racism. Racism can be generated from a complete lack of interaction with a group, but it can also be generated from a certain level of sustained interaction. It is easy to say that your country has no problem with black people when there are very little or when they have very little impact on your city or country. When people feel like their culture is threatened, that is when they begin to lash out.  I am not empathizing with this view, or making excuses for racists. I am a minority as well and want to emphasize that people can become more intolerant when they “feel” threatened, even if facts do not line up with their view of the world.

Let’s see how tolerant people remain when they start competing with minorities for jobs. I came across a post on the IMDB board for American History X, which helped to crystallize how job competition can contribute to racism as well . The film follows Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), a former Neo-Nazi who tries to save his younger brother from the life of racism he once had. As Derek reflects on what led him on the path to white supremacy, he remembers his dad being killed by black gang members after responding to a 9/11 call in a drug den. However, Derek also remembers an earlier incident; a conversation with his father.

american-history-free

Years earlier, Derek tells his dad that they started reading Native Son in school, which is about a young black man in poverty. Derek’s dad makes it clear that he thinks “black books” are being used at the expense of good books. Derek’s dad, a firefighter, then shared a story of black firefighters being hired even though they weren’t qualified. We do not know how Derek’s dad knows they weren’t qualified. Derek’s dad also refers to the need for diversity as “nigger bullshit”.

An IMDB forum discussion titled “I agree with Derek’s dad on most point…” argues that Derek’s dad was undoubtedly racist but he had a good point about diversity trumping talent. A link is included but you may not be able to access it if you do not have an IMDB account. I have included screenshots below as evidence.

Most of the replies in this discussion echo the misconception that affirmative action results in unqualified candidates. There is a misconception about affirmative action flooding workplaces with black C students instead of white A students. However, such hiring is illegal and affirmative action mostly involves selecting a minority from a pool of qualified candidates. Affirmative action in the US also does not instil quotas, which is another prevalent misconception.

One response in particular got my attention:

imdb

In case you can’t read it: “I agree 100%, my uncle and his friend years ago both tried out to be police officers in Philadelphia and despite having higher test scores than two black aspiring police officers, they didn’t get the job, it instead went to the other candidates. That shows how messed up the US is, employers should higher the most qualified candidates instead of trying to up their diverse employee stats. It’s simply stupid.”

I have heard similar stories before, and I have yet to hear such a story where there is proof that the black candidates were unqualified. I thought I would give the poster the benefit of the doubt and ask him how his uncle knew the black candidates got lower test scores.

His response:

imdb

“This happened a little bit before I was born so this is what I was told (I was told the others were unqualified, I assume this was observed during physical training). I love how you automatically assumed I was racist, triggered much?”

So basically, this poster’s uncle actually has no proof that the black candidates were unqualified. I respect this poster for actually being honest; he could have just lied about his uncle seeing their test scores himself. Yet I also detest that he heard this story, doesn’t know the details and is now using it to fuel his attack on minorities. The next time a black person gets a job instead of him, he’ll likely assume they were unqualified. Then he’ll tell his kids this story, and they’ll tell their kids….

First we get this ignorance, disguised as an argument for merit. Next people might complain about having to accommodate new languages or religions.

Let’s see how tolerant your country is when immigrants and minorities are blamed for a poor economy, crime, changing culture etc. This is already happening more and more in Europe with the refugee crisis. No country lacks a racism problem. That is either a lie or the country has very few minorities.

 

Our “Post-Racial” World

“If you want racism to end you have to stop talking about it.”

“You guys are so sensitive, you see racism in everything.”

“Black people always pull the race card, they’re the real racists.”

“I don’t even see colour.”

 

Liberals and minorities hear these complaints all the time,

Coming from people who both benefit from racism and want to silence discussion of it, or people who are genuinely well intentioned but also very ignorant,

Even figures like Morgan Freeman have championed this post-Civil Rights era mindset,

And the people who find racism tough to discuss were quick to follow his lead,

 

To someone with this mindset, the large gaps between employment and median income between whites and minorities have a simple explanation,

Minorities, especially blacks, don’t work hard enough and use racism as a crutch to avoid improving themselves,

 

It’s a very enticing mindset,

It makes racism a taboo topic,

Whites can deny that their race has any impact on their daily lives,

And they can easily shut down any discussion of racism by arguing that the people who discuss it are racist,

A common maneuver is to use Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “…when a man will not be judged by the color of his skin…”

Although MLK used the words in his fight against racism, “colour-blind” people now use it to argue that anyone who discusses racism is racist,

A newer one is paraphrasing Obama and saying “We are all one race. Human.”

Although Obama has discussed the lingering effects of racism in multiple speeches throughout his presidency,

People still like to use his line out of context

 

It is a fact that people do see colour,

Even the ones who say they don’t,

Some of the same people who say they don’t see colour do not support interracial marriage and would be opposed to more minorities moving into their neighbourhoods,

Colour-blindness is just a crutch to avoid discussing racism, and to avoid doing anything about it,

It is all part of a lingering belief that a cancer that is deeply entrenched throughout the world, can jut be ignored and swept under the rug

 

I always hear people use the analogy of a cut,

Why do we keep picking at a cut instead of letting it heal?

If you keep talking about racism it makes things worse,

 

To someone who is supposedly “colour-blind”, there is no cut,

They will ignore the cut, bleeding, and infection because they will stubbornly argue there is no cut,

 

“You have a cut.”
“No I don’t.”

“On your arm. I can see it.”

“I’m fine, you’ve got to stop being so sensitive.”

“I’m not being sensitive, but it’s a pretty bad cut. Maybe you should get a Band-Aid or something.”

“I don’t need to do that since there is no cut. Even if there was, it’ll go away if you stop talking about it.”
“What? You don’t need to let the cut ruin your life but you need to acknowledge it and take care of it. It’s right there, you’re bleeding.”

“Yeah I’m bleeding, but the blood’s not coming from a cut. You’ve got to stop pulling the cut card.”

 

This is what it is like to argue with someone who denies racism,

Their denial is often followed by anger at people who dare to point it out,

To break the illusion,

 

Acknowledging race does not equal racism,

Acknowledging biological differences does not equal racism,

It is only racism if we believe one race is inherently superior to another due to their race, such as believing that white people are naturally more intelligent than black people,

It is a disservice to minorities to repeatedly tell them all their experiences with discrimination are only in their head,

And to tell them that if they simply have the right attitude, things like housing discrimination and racial profiling will go away,

Sadly this mindset is so prevalent nowadays and has become even more popular with Obama’s election,

We are living in a “post-racial” world where many people still prefer to date their own race and live in areas surrounded by their own race.