When Is It OK To Call A Person A Racist?


I was listening to NPR the other day and the topic was “when is it OK to call someone a racist.”  The only guests they had on were Rick Moran a right wing blogger and Dawn Turner Trice a columnist from the Chicago Tribune.  Both people being white struck me right off that this was going to be quite one sided, which it was and extremely so.

Right off the guest Rick Moran talked about how he has been called a racist and how terrible it made him feel.  Of course he elaborated that the only reason people are calling others racists is to demean the argument and to basically get an upper hand of some sort in an argument.  Huh?  I thought people call others racist because they say something that is obviously racist.

But on the other hand watching this Sotomayor business play out in the media we see that people are trying to utilize the racist term for their own sordid means.  We know that this woman is far from being racist but hey if it works they will continue this weak pathetic reconfiguration of the term racist.

Then on the show Dawn Turner Trice comes on and explains that we can’t just look at one thing to see that a person is a racist.  Somehow we need to have a laundry list of things that will point to them being a racist.  In fact Dawn and Rick basically were saying that racists were people who consorted with the likes of David Duke and wore white sheets on their days off.

The problem with this is you don’t need to be a KKK or other group member to be a racist.  You don’t have to be white nor do you have to be in a position of power the way they explained it.  Because even the lowest white person on the totem pole can still use racism in a way that gives them the upper hand over blacks.  If you don’t believe it you don’t have to look any further than Susan Smith or the other white women who have pointed the finger at a nondescript black man.  The story usually ends the same.

They asked for people to call in and tell whether they had ever called someone a racist or been called a racist and what it was like.  Well I have had plenty of opportunities to call people a racist and have been called a racist more than once for writing that blacks deserve equality.  And I know that the folks that I have called out for their racism are ones who talk incessantly about black stereotypes, phony statistics, propaganda and other blatantly racist statements.

When calling someone out as a racist you shouldn’t be trying to use it as an argument ploy.  It isn’t about getting some phony upper hand, putting the conversation in your favor or trying to make people feel bad.  I think it is as simple as pointing out the truth.  And if it makes a person feel bad, hey, the truth hurts, right.   If it walks like a racist and talks like a racist then ten times out of ten it IS a racist.  And having a conversation about when should people call a person a racist is idiotic.  You call it when you see it!



Filed under Racism, Social Issues, Society, Thoughts

36 responses to “When Is It OK To Call A Person A Racist?

  1. I am an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma currently in a class called Race, Gender and the Media. It is not surprising at all, as you said, that NPR had two white guys talk about being racist. Of course the opinions stated would be biased. However, my response to the question “When is it OK to Call a Person a Racist?” is based from what I have been introduced to in the class mentioned above; the only time I would call a person a racist is when I am admitting that the person has some type of power over me, because being a racist is a person that has the power to act on his or her racial prejudices. My teacher, who is African American, asked if she could be racist, and it made me think- what type of power does a black woman have that, when she practiced being racist, the target person or group would take her seriously? Now, of course, there are many examples to think of to prove, and disprove, what I have said, but I’ll stop writing by saying for people of color, it is never OK to give that person the power or superiority they are seeking by being racist. The better question could be why do people still act on their racial prejudices, and what can America do to stop it? And discussing it on NPR with two white men is not going to start the process.

  2. It is always a bit ridiculous to me that we need to feel sorry for White people who have been called “racist.” They are “outraged” and “hurt,” and they often feel “disrespected.” Huh? Do White people really think that they deserve empathy for them? I think they really think that.

    Every social index we have tells us that one is decidedly better off in the U.S. just for being White. What are these people reading? Who is gassing them?

  3. @mason

    Be careful not to confuse institutional racism (which is endemic to all U.S. institutions) and personal prejudice. I know that there is an ongoing debate about who can be racist, and I would like to add that the difference between racism and prejudice is the ability to tap into the racial status hierarchy that exists in U.S. institutions that sets racism apart. Now, in this vein, it is possible for your Black professor to be racist insofar as she represents the interests of a racist institution. That has a lot to do with the psychic connection she has to African American culture–that is, whether she is an African American professor or a professor who happens to be African American.

  4. Justaguy,

    I think we all know the definition. So your point IS!


  5. Sundjata,

    I deleted the comment. I have deleted plenty of his comment over time. He knows what he needs to do to get his comment listed.

    Sorry if it seems confusing. Thanks.

  6. WHAAAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A deleted comment not forwarded for my entertaiment???? You keep up that kind of attitude and you and I are going to have it out on the blue grass field of Boise State!!! LOL

  7. Mike,

    Darn it! I forgot. I will not make that mistake again. Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!

  8. “Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!”

    With you, like with my wife, I like to talk big….I’d be more worried about you burying me in the turf!!!

  9. Mike,

    Now that you understand my tough turf behavior, I think we have an understanding. Just don’t you forget it.

  10. The Engineer

    I have never been called a racist — until this swine flu.

    For most of the world, it has been roughly six weeks since April 30, 2009 when this swine flu started to affect the world. For Mexico, some have theorized that the Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus (a.k.a. “swine flu”) may have been circulating as early as August 2008 to November 2008.

    It is common consensus that the virus evolved somewhere in Mexico, but that has not been proven. In fact, no one has found a pig source yet, anywhere on the planet. Quickly, the virus spread to the point that, by mid May 2009, North America (Mexico, Canada, and U.S.A.) were considered sources of infection.

    There is one country of note that attempted to protect themselves from infection (it did not work, but they did try) by implementing quarantines on anybody originating from an infected country. Entire hotels were being quarantined, but the “guests” were treated very well with free medical care, free food, and free lodging. This country was quarantining people from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.A., but it was the Foreign Minister from Mexico that was calling the quarantining country a racist country.

    Well, I took the hit for that.

    Why? I have been wearing a mask for the past six weeks (and continue to wear a mask).

    In one instance, in a bank, a Mexican female customer saw me (I am also a customer) and yelled at the top of her voice to anyone who would listen that I was a racist. She wanted me arrested, shackled, and beaten. She accused me of violating the civil rights of all Mexicans in the world.

    What was I supposed to say to that? Believe it or not, I just minded my own bank business and got out of there as soon as possible. I said nothing to the screaming Mexican woman.

    In another instance, I was attacked by a group of Mexicans. I had to call the police while escaping into a convenience store. Many squad cars appeared while I was still on the phone — talk about service! Fortunately, I was not hurt, but it was very shocking to experience.

    Why was I attacked? My attackers told me — they attacked because I was wearing a mask. I never said anything to any of them during the whole ordeal.

    Recently, I visited my local supermarket which is a pretty nice, very upscale market. I enjoy it very much. Great food. Nearly everybody knows who I am. I feel at home there. When I walked in, one of the employees whom I have known for many years (possibly a decade), nearly spat at me! She hissed and was very obvious with her displeasure with me. Technically, she is not even a Mexican (she is from South America), but she was very upset with me.

    Why? I was wearing a mask.

    So, now I know what it is like to be a racist, and the strange thing is I never started out to be a racist. Somehow, in some way, I became one. I am not absolutely sure, but I believe many Caucasians are just as confused as I am in our status as racists.

    I am still bewildered.

    Thank you for listening.

  11. The Engineer,

    Unfortunately I can see why YOU would be confused as to why you are being considered a racist. Then again I can see why these people feel this way and it has absolutely nothing to do with you personally. But I can’t see why any white person who is saying racist things would be confused as to why they are being perceived as a racist.

    It isn’t as if people are walking down the street yelling at some white guy or lady that they are racist. More than likely it is after some seriously stereotypical statement being made. So I unfortunately can’t agree with Caucasians being in the least bit confused unless they WERE simply walking about being called racist out of the blue.

    Also, those Hispanics who decided that you were a racist took it upon themselves to make all kinds of assumptions as to why you were wearing the mask. People where masks for all sorts of reasons from heart troubles to cancer or transplant patients. Or maybe you are the one who is infected with something and are trying to protect others. So cases of stupidity exists across all barriers.

    Now if you were acting in a manner that somehow when you saw a Hispanic person you shied away or acted as if they were going to infect you then indeed they had every right to point you out as a racist. Because then you would be exhibiting behavior that would imply that you felt only Hispanics were carrying the H1N1 virus when anyone could be infected. And to me that is the only way I can see someone gaining the racist label.


  12. I have a slightly technical question regarding the mask. Considering that we can fit millions of little virus cells on the head of a pin, is the mask truly effective, or more of a mental bandaid.

    I get the mask idea when dealing with dusty environments, like when my dad and I wrecked the walls in one of our old houses before totally remodeling it, but for a virus??? Does it honestly help, or just make people feel better?

  13. Mike,

    I would have to say that the mask does not actually help unless it is one that form fits your face and has some sort of filter or breather. I also have been keeping track of this and heard that these masks only help to stop people from being able to infect you through their coughing or sneezing which would introduce spittle into your face.

    But even then if you are not wearing some sort of protective glasses or goggles like we nurses or doctors use during medical treatments, again you are only half protected. And would probably be infected anyway. So the answer would probably be that it is a mental saver. But again let me reiterate that people utilize masks for all sorts of medical purposes. So I don’t want to discount the use of masks as they are and can be life savers for a lot of people who need them.


  14. Mike,

    As you know my mother has MS and gets sick everytime she travels on airplanes. It’s anicdotal, but the masks have seemed to help.

  15. The Engineer

    Thank you for the kind words.

    To be honest, I am avoiding EVERYONE. I try to keep a minimum of 10 feet distance from anyone while I am out on the street.

    Since the World Health Organization declared a full-scale pandemic for Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 (a.k.a. “swine flu”), it would seem a slightly few more people are more understanding. Some have cautiously approached me and asked me some questions regarding the swine flu. I gladly tell them what I have researched. But the majority of the people (my guess is 66 percent) do not know that a pandemic has been declared. In my area, on June 12, 2009, only one newspaper mentioned on the front page something about the pandemic — and even then, the sentence was only a part of photo caption.

    To anyone interested in a good mask, try Googling the following search string:
    [p100 reusable mask].

    Among the search results, look for masks that have filter cartridges that have 3 filtration properties:
    1. organic vapor (http://www.assaytech.us/quickck.html)
    2. acid vapor
    3. p100 (0.3 micrometer particles)

    Yes, viruses are smaller than 0.3 microns, but they tend to get stuck in the filter because the air flow through a filter is not a straight path.

    Some of you may remember that I predicted that McCain would win. Well, I was wrong.

    I will now make another prediction: this swine flu pandemic may parallel the Spanish Flu of 1918, which means we will have a mild infection period until the end of Summer 2009, then a very bad Fall/Winter 2009-2010, and then a very bad Fall/Winter 2010-2011. This whole thing may not end until May 2011, 23 months from now.

    I hope I am wrong.

    Thank you for listening.

  16. The Engineer,

    I can totally understand your fears. As I have stopped taking my son to his play group because one of the kids has come down with the H1N1 virus. I am sorry but I can’t be concerned with how it looks. I can only be concerned with my family not being infected.

    And I too avoid contact with people for the majority. I have been staying away from restaurants and outings as I have been following the WHO and their information as well. I hope that this does not go further but I fear that it will. We are collectively putting our heads in the sand because the cases “seem” relatively small. Yet, the WHO says this IS a pandemic.

    Thank you.

  17. From what I understand, the WHO declared a pandemic,not due to severity, but to spread of it from North America to Asia, Australia, etc. I also heard that either the CDC, or some other tracking organization was going to quit the differentiating, at least here in the U.S. between H1N1 and any other flu strain, and compile the data as total flu cases numbers.

    I tend to downplay the pandemic nature of diseases, as most seem to receive massive coverage, and every expert from here to the other side of the world is writing papers, op-eds, and doing the radio/tv thing getting their expert name out there. That and the worst of them usually occurred in places with substandard living conditions with less access to the better medical centers..things like that.

    I also have been blessed with an immune system that pretty much rejects everything including the common cold. I get affected by sinuses about 2 times a year, but beyond that nothing. I do definitely consider myself lucky in that respect.

  18. Mike,

    That is true. But, since little ones and the old are even more susceptible to this virus, and cases were found at his play group, I became more conscious of it. Having had to work around contagions constantly I don’t usually get very concerned. But with this which to me is nothing more than a flu outbreak, I am always concerned. The flu is nothing to play with.

    People usually don’t think much about the flu but it can and does kill. And it does so in all places. And I feel you about your immune system. I have been able to go without getting the flu or pretty much any other contagious illnesses. But, I know that my little one isn’t Mr. Immune system. He never did get the flu, but that was due to my planning and care.

    I do try my best to keep everyone in the house illness free. But, things happen and I don’t take any chances with the health of those in my home. So I can understand all points being made. Consider yourself lucky that you are part of the strong immunity community. My mom is someone who gets everything. If it is within her vicinity she will catch it.

    Thanks for the reply.

  19. Im not here to really comment today i just wanted to post a link to a story that if you hadn’t heard about it you should definitely read into. This is a perfect example of blatant white cop on black male crime. Heres the link and an excerpt. Please visit the link to nview the video as someone there caught the incident on tape.
    story & video here:

    “Trooper, Paramedic Fight Caught on Tape
    Posted: May 26, 2009 9:18 PM CDT
    Updated: May 27, 2009 9:39 PM CDT
    Featured Video First Responders, Trooper Clash Caught on Tape

    PADEN, Oklahoma — An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and a paramedic were caught on tape scuffling Sunday while a patient was being taken to the hospital.

    The fight happened on Highway 62, near Paden, after a OHP and first responders argued over a close call on the road.

    OHP alleges that one of the paramedics on the video assaulted the trooper, but the assault was not caught on tape.

    “We’re like trying to tell the guy, ‘Dude, my mom is in the back,’ and my stepdad was like, ‘My wife is in the back. Can we do this at the hospital?'” said Kenyada Davis.

    Kenyada Davis’ mother was the woman in the back of the ambulance being treated for heat exhaustion.

    He was able to shoot the altercation with his cell phone’s camera.

    Davis said it all started because the ambulance failed to yield to OHP troopers, who were en route to a call along highway 62 in Paden.

    Davis said the driver of the ambulance was trying to avoid hitting a car that slowed down and wasn’t aware of troopers nearby until it was too late.

    “He slowed down, and as the car was getting over, that’s when he passed us,” Davis said. “I didn’t hear him.”

    But after OHP troopers finished their official business, they pulled the Creek Nation ambulance over. One of the troopers chided Paul for failing to yield.

    Once the ambulance was pulled over, Davis pulled out his phone and shot video of the scene.

    Watch the full video of the altercation between the trooper and first responders.

    According to the OHP, the paramedics assaulted the trooper just before the fight broke out.

    “It didn’t look like it was being handled very well, at least form the tape I saw from the troopers’ standpoint,” said NEWS 9 Legal Analyst Irven Box.

    The entire scene, including the alleged assault was captured on dash cam video and has not been released.

    The Okfuskee County District Attorney’s office is reviewing all of the footage and could file criminal charges against the paramedic by the end of the week.”

    The funny thing about this is that the black paramedic wasnt even the one driving! The white paramedic was driving and was only scolded by the police. The black paramedic got out to tell the police that it was an emergency and he is automatically under arrest and chocked! HA! Nonsense! At the beginning of the video you can even hear the black paramedic telling the patients family dont get involved. OMG! Please Black Sentinel, Speak on this! I cant wait to hear the ignorant responses you will get from fools trying to defend the trooper!

  20. Elishiba,

    Don’t worry, I get an endless supply of people who will not only try and support this crazy trooper, but they will have all sorts of excuses for him as well.

    thanks for the link I would like to do a post on this as well.

  21. pvdugas

    I listened to that show, as I listen to NPR every morning while getting ready for work. About mid way through I turned it off. It was weak.

  22. pvdugas,

    I know what you mean. I was severely disappointed in this show. You have a whole show about the label racist and don’t give the view of any others. Only that of white people.

    How insincere is a show which is that biased. That is like having a show on reverse racism and only speaking to minorities or a show on the glass ceiling and only speaking to men. It doesn’t work that way.

    Thanks for the reply.

  23. Sweet Jones

    Ummm, Dawn Turner Trice is Black.

  24. Thank you Sweet Jones. I called both people white, when I should have clarified that with white viewpoint. But it actually makes no difference to me. If I am going to only show one side of a story it doesn’t matter. If I you are going to talk race relations and put only Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerlly, John McWhorter and Shelby Steele and nobody else, you are only getting one spectrum of the conversation and that is the Caucasian perspective. You need to have all perspectives. We know that Dawn Turner Trice is NOT speaking from any perspective that differs from that of the other person on the panel. So in that respect your point doesn’t matter one iota to me.

    Thanks for clearing that whole thing up because it made no difference to the post.

  25. Crystal Carlisle

    I didn’t know how else to contact you, except for thru this blog. How do I get permission to use your KKK burning cross photo? thanks, Crystal

  26. Sweet Jones

    No snark intended at all in my above post. Simply trying to correct the record.

    Long time lurker and much resepct for what you do.

  27. Ghenghis

    White institutional racism is filled with bloody, pale vampires that suck the life out of non-white people.

    White women and men become sensitive and easily offended by requests for equality of non-white people. However, whites are tolerant of other white folks who call themselves rednecks who listen to honky tonk. RACIST – DOUBLE – STANDARD!

    White America has been referring to itself as “white America” for a long time. Whites set up the game. Get a clue, racist white America, and don’t pass “go” until you get a clue!

    Every Native American/indigenous, black, Asian, and mixed Hispanic/indigenous group has experienced the genocide campaign set up by whites.

  28. Ghengis,

    I understand your anger at the system that we all have to live under. But just as white people accept the “rednecks who listen to honky tonk” we accept gang members with the loud rap music. It’s all relative. Calling them names or other things won’t change our situation. We must focus on shedding light on disparity not on wasteful names that don’t help.

    Anyhow our system is full of racist double standards and the monopoly analogy is a very good one since the game has been played for a few hundred years before we were ever allowed to get ourselves in the game. Now that we are in everyone wants to say things are equal. It makes no sense. If we have a foot race and black people were allowed to start and get into the race for four or five laps of a 6 lap race then allow white people to start no one would consider that equal.


  29. John,

    If you haven’t noticed I am NOT even reading your replies. Stop wasting both our time. I don’t need more “the one arm man did it” syndrome. Everyone else but white people stories. Sorry your done, get a clue.

    Thanks but seriously NO THANKS.

  30. Ghenghis

    Black Sentinel,

    The vampire image is a metaphor and not, technically, name calling. I was using a literary device (smiles).

    Whites love vampire movies, and it’s impossible to put white people in their place when they own white America and refer to themselves as “white America” and set up the race-based system.

    Some people complain about minorities calling other minorities names, but no one is complaining about white people referring to other whites as rednecks who listen to honky tonk. Everyone is eager to chastise non-whites; in fact, it’s easier to criticize non-whites. It’s next to impossible to criticize the white institutional racism game because it’s so powerful.

    White people as presumed to be normal, the standard by which everything else is judged. How many times have we heard Asians complain about their eyes? How many times have we heard blacks complain about their hair?

    As Malcolm X said, “Who taught you to hate your [self]?” White domination taught non-whites to hate that which is natural, the diversity of human features.

    Melanin is not only valuable as a solar UV shield, but it also performs cell repair and enhances transmission of signals. A white, blue-eyed cat is more susceptible to visual and auditory deficiencies because of the lack of melanin. In humans, this is called Waardenburg Syndrome. Dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin are actually beneficial to survival. But we’re given the opposite image in the media, an inversion of evolutionary reason. From a scientific standpoint, no one should be without melanin on planet Earth – it’s the safest and most eco-friendly form of protection.

  31. Ghengis,

    Trust me I totally understand. But I was giving symbolism as well and being proactive since I am accused of letting people say whatever they want if it is aimed at whites. I know exactly what you mean and agree with your analogy. If someone is continuously taking without any thought to their victim they are indeed a vampire.

    Agreed, whites don’t even have a problem with gays calling each other fags or white women calling each other bitches. Only time there is a problem is when blacks are using a word they feel they can not. I actually love that speech from Malcolm X as it is so on point.

    We agree more than not. And I thank you again for your thoughts.

  32. jw1080

    This conversation is worthless.

    Sundjata, saying that we need to feel sorry for White people who have been called “racist.” They are “outraged” and “hurt,” and they often feel “disrespected.” Is like saying the government needs to give African American people money for slavery and suffering in the past. I have never been called racist because I have never disrespected that of another race.

  33. jw1080,

    The problem with both your arguments is that I don’t need to feel sorry for anyone. I do on the other hand feel that the government needs to take care of ALL of their citizens. MEANING that they make sure that they do all they can to end white privilege, discrimination and the institutionalized racism that all continues today. This isn’t about suffering in the past, this is about suffering NOW.



  35. i think that the KKK are a bunch a fuckers and all need to calm down and stop being arseholes. You only live once so why do you want to live it hating. Racist mother fuckers !!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s