Thought Catalog
May 1, 2014

23 Quotes That Perfectly Explain Racism (To People Who Don’t “See Color”)

Report This Article
What is the issue?
Cameron Russell
Cameron Russell
If the first words out of your mouth are to cry ‘political correctness!’, … chances are very, very high that you are in fact part of the problem. N.K. Jemisin
White people don’t like to believe that they practice identity politics. The defining part of being white in America is the assumption that, as a white person, you are a regular, individual human being. Other demographic groups set themselves apart, to pursue their distinctive identities and interests and agendas. Whiteness, to white people, is the American default. Tom Scocca
never
trust anyone
who says
they do not see color.
this means
to them,
you are invisible. Nayyirah Waheed
People know about the Klan and the overt racism, but the killing of one’s soul little by little, day after day, is a lot worse than someone coming in your house and lynching you. Samuel L. Jackson
The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything. Scott Woods
In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate. Toni Morrison
People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse. Teju Cole
Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third Elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over. Junot Díaz
Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal. Benjamin Spock
We cannot educate white women and take them by the hand. Most of us are willing to help but we can’t do the white woman’s homework for her. That’s an energy drain. More times than she cares to remember, Nellie Wong, Asian American feminist writer, has been called by white women wanting a list of Asian American women who can give readings or workshops. We are in danger of being reduced to purvey­ors of resource lists. Gloria Anzaldúa
We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball… is in teaching people what racism actually IS. Jon Stewart
Richard exhaled. It was like somebody sprinkling pepper on his wound: Thousands of Biafrans were dead, and this man wanted to know if there was anything new about one dead white man. Richard would write about this, the rule of Western journalism: One hundred dead black people equal to one dead white person. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
…being Latino means being from everywhere, and that is exactly what America is supposed to be about. Raquel Cepeda
You and I both know, deep in your heart, you agree with me. And I will prove it with one hypothetical scenario: you are alone in a closet of your home. There`s a bright red button. You can push that button and presto all Negroes and Jews and all other colored people are instantly removed from the North American continent and returned to their native countries. You`d push it, wouldn`t you whitey? See? See? See? in the final analysis, you agree with me. But of course, you wouldn`t do antything to bring that scenario about, or any other scenario favorable to your Race. Frazier Glenn Miller
Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like “well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,” but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change. Dave Chappelle
Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future. Audre Lorde
The police can go to downtown Harlem and pick up a kid with a joint in the streets. But they can’t go into the elegant apartments and get a stockbroker who’s sniffing cocaine. Noam Chomsky
Often white people hear blame whenever the issue of racism is brought up, whether or not blame has been placed on whites. As beneficiaries of racism and white privilege, you sometimes take a defensive posture even when you are not being individually blamed. You may personalize the remarks, not directed personally at you. It is the arrogance of your privilege that drags the focus back to whites. When whites are being blamed or personally accused of racist behavior, this defensiveness and denial further alienate you and may preclude you from examining your possible racist behavior. Debra Leigh
The new racism: Racism without ‘racists.’ Today, racial segregation and division often result from habits, policies, and institutions that are not explicitly designed to discriminate. Contrary to popular belief, discrimination or segregation do not require animus. They thrive even in the absence of prejudice or ill will. It’s common to have racism without racists. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
There are a lot of readers who pride themselves on not paying attention to the identities of their favorite writers. Some of them think this means they’re not prejudiced. I don’t know anyone who isn’t, myself included. But let’s say for argument’s sake that those particular readers in fact are not prejudiced. How many books by writers of color do you think you’ll find on their bookshelves? I’d lay odds that if there are any at all, they will be far outnumbered by the books by white authors. Not necessarily because those readers are deliberately choosing mostly white/male authors. They don’t have to. The status quo does it for them. So those readers’ self-satisfied “I don’t know” is really an “I don’t care enough to look beyond my nose.” And that’s cool. So many causes, so little time. But don’t pretend that indifference and an unwillingness to make positive change constitute enlightenment. Nalo Hopkinson
I get how it can be news to some of you that people are victimized by systems legitimated by your nation, countrymen, and god. But I’m black and female and southern. I call that Tuesday. Tressie McMillan Cottom
More than 2 million people found themselves behind bars at the turn of the twenty-first century, and millions more were relegated to the margins of mainstream society, banished to a political and social space not unlike Jim Crow, where discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education was perfectly legal, and where they could be denied the right to vote. The system functioned relatively automatically, and the prevailing system of racial meanings, identities, and ideologies already seemed natural. Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in race-neutral terms, an adaptation to the needs and demands of the current political climate. Michelle Alexander
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu

Racism, Jeremy Lin, Psy and the model minority myth.

diffracism9