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!