Am I A Racist? Depends On What You Mean By “Racist”

atikinka / (
atikinka / (

When people ask me if I’m a “racist”—which seems to be daily—I never say “yes” or “no” without first asking them what they mean by the term.

This flummoxes them, because they assume the word “racist” has some sort of fixed socio-scientific meaning, that there’s an easy “yes” or “no” answer, and that nobody would ever willingly answer “yes.”

Even though they insist “race”—i.e., quantifiably different physical and cognitive patterns between groups of different continental origins—doesn’t exist, they act as if the definition of “racism” is fixed in cement.

Sorry to pop your One-World Love Bubble, but “race” is far easier to quantify than “racism.” A forensic scientist could take DNA samples from a skull and determine its continental origins, but they would be utterly incapable of telling you whether the skull once harbored “racist” thoughts. The true “social construct” here is “racism,” not “race.”

Problem is, the definition of the word “racist” has evolved…or devolved…or, more accurately, ballooned…over the course of my lifetime.

So when I calmly—cheerfully, even—ask them to define the term “racist,” it stymies them because they think it’s the worst thing in the world to be a racist and that everyone would automatically deny being one. And for many modern-day simpletons who’d be incapable of squeezing an original thought out of their head if you held a gun to it, denying that you’re a racist is the surest proof that you’re a racist. They also expect you to scramble to prove that you aren’t a racist, such as offering up evidence that you have black friends or listen to hip-hop or once ate some watermelon. No matter what you say, if they want to think of you as a racist, they’re going to do it. It has less to do with your actual beliefs and far more to do with their self-righteousness and conformist personality. This childish, hysterical, torch-carrying, witch-hunting mentality has truly become that stupid and histrionic.

But nasty scare words don’t cow me like they appear to terrify others. When a person is OK with himself, the approval or condemnation of others doesn’t mean a thing. Then again, the problem with being an individual is that you always wind up outnumbered.

It used to be that a “racist” was simply someone who hated others for their skin color. By that definition, I am not, nor have I ever been, a racist. People give you plenty of reasons to hate them before you even have to consider their melanin levels. Most people I’ve hated have been white—especially the ones who play an infantile, morally hierarchical, status-jockeying game of “tag” by calling me a racist.

When I was much younger, the word “racist” had the same sinister implications it does now, only it was confined to those who had actual sinister motives or who engaged in sinister acts. I have never wanted to harm anyone because they had a different ancestry than I did. I’ve wanted to harm plenty of people because of their behavior, but never because their ancestry was different than mine. So according to that definition, nope, I’m still not a racist.

Another common idea of what constitutes a “racist” is someone who scapegoats other races for their problems. Nah, that’s not me. I blame my parents and, increasingly, myself. So by that definition, I am not a racist.

One also hears that a “racist” is one who, because of deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, needs to feel that their race is superior to others. I may have intense feelings of superiority about certain things, but they have nothing to do with my skin color or continental ancestry. By most physical measures, I’d say that blacks are superior to whites. By most known cognitive indices, Asians and Jews are superior to whites. So because I do not base my superiority complex on being white, I am not a racist according to that definition.

But increasingly, a “racist” is someone who dares to even notice general patterns of difference among groups of different continental origins. I stress the terms “general patterns” and “different continental origins” because a semantic trick some people play is to insist that no race is “pure” and therefore race is a meaningless term, but I’ve never suggested this “purity” concept and I’m not sure that anyone has. To deny that Kenyans are generally better long-distance runners than Samoans, or that Japanese students consistently score higher than Australian aborigines on intelligence tests, or that Germans have contributed more to science than Guatemalans, is to deny reality. So if noticing patterns makes me a racist, then yes—absolutely. I am a racist—a shameless one, too. I have no shame in following what the overwhelming evidence suggests. If you can show me contrary evidence, I’ll consider it—but you’d be far more persuasive if you stopped shouting and calling me naughty names in the process. It only makes you, not me, look like the hater.

Finally, it’s becoming evident that a “racist” is any white person who doesn’t publicly flog themselves for being white, who doesn’t ignore the tremendous contributions of European civilization to world history, who filters out all the good and only focuses on genocide and hatred and oppression, as if every other civilization didn’t own slaves and demonize the “other” and slaughter all enemies to the best of their ability. By this definition, a “racist” is any white person who wouldn’t crawl out of their white skin if given the opportunity. As I see it, self-hatred is not an appealing trait in any individual or any group. It wasn’t attractive in blacks when they were shuffling and muttering “Yes, massa,” and it’s extremely unbecoming in whites when they’re constantly apologizing for their very existence. So if merely being unashamed—not proud, that’s an entirely different thing—of being white makes me a racist, then I am an unreconstructed, unapologetic R-A-C-I-S-T, and you can kiss my lily-white ass if you don’t like it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Stop worrying about good and bad…and start thinking about true and false.

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