1. First thing first: we live in a racist culture. By this I don’t mean that you are racist, that everyone is racist, or that one ethnic group is more racist than another. A racist culture means that despite apologies and tales of lessons learned, the same racist incidents occur over and over again, proving that the lesson is never actually learned.
2. That an article that criticizes the dominant race, i.e. white people, is automatically seen as hateful, full of spite, evil, and itself racist instead of being thought of as a tool to start important conversations.
3. It’s the unique feeling of talking about race and racism until you are blue in the face but feeling like no one is even listening, even cares. Being told to “get over it”; being told that people of color should “stop blaming white people.”
4. Comments on articles about race that amount to, “racism is just another lie the liberal media establishment has created” and “making excuses for minority failures, it’s what liberals do” and “why pick a less qualified minority for XYZ if they are not qualified?”
5. It’s the assumption that minorities are not qualified and are undereducated, stereotypes propelled everyday on television and in the media.
6. Real outrage when a character from a famous movie is depicted as black. Or when a news anchor goes on a tirade about how Santa Claus is fucking white, everyone. Really?
7. Knowing that every time you talk about race, people are going to assume you’re angry, bitter, and they will try to shut you down rather than dialoguing with you. It’s the dominant feature of white privilege.
8. It’s the negative portrayals of minorities that are so woven into our collective consciousness that blatant boldfaced discrimination isn’t even necessary because the stereotype is, at this point, self-perpetuating.
9. It’s when oppression is so systemic that some don’t even notice it as oppression because “it’s just the way it is,” an excuse no intelligent person has ever made ever.
10. Living in a racist culture isn’t only or always about white people. It’s about minority populations who hate themselves and go through extensive beauty rituals to make their hair straighter, their eyes and skin lighter: anything to get closer to whiteness.
11. But it’s also the creation of institutional conditions — wage gaps, access to education, conditions that perpetuate poverty — that simultaneously oppress minorities while providing “justification” for the image of us being shitty humans.
12. It’s knowing that, for all intents and purposes, whiteness is the standard of beauty in America. In beauty adverts black skin is lightened and black features are Photoshopped out.
13. That everyone in the fashion sphere has begged for more models of color on the catwalks. And every year, brownness is just a special issue rather than a systemic problem that designers, magazine editors, and casting agents want to take on.
14. Living in a racist culture is when a magazine thinks that taking a photo with a Russian socialite sitting on top of a black model is not a racist gesture. This is actually key, and fairly scary: the inability to see or even recognize a racist gesture.
15. When black murders committed by white police officers aren’t seen as hate crimes. Only in a racist culture could a person like George Zimmerman raise $200,000 for his innocence and get off free, could a witness be characterized as ineloquent and unintelligent.
16. Only in a racist culture can a rich white teenager kill four in a vehicle accident and get slapped with ten year probation; can a guy arrested for drag racing and admittedly driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol get called a “bad kid” or “misguided,” but a black guy with dreadlocks who made it into Stanford University with a 4.2 high school G.P.A., he’s the thug.
17. It’s when an interracial couple, or an interracial baby, constantly feels placeless.
18. The anxiety of telling your parents that the boy or girl you’re bringing home for the holidays is of a different race, even as you’ve listened to them make racist jokes in the past.
19. It’s the fact that in 2014, not 1901, a fraternity at Arizona State had the brilliant idea to throw the most racist party of all time — the MLK Black Party — where people wore basketball jerseys, drank from cups made out of watermelons and flashed gang signs for the camera. Why stop the racism there when you can put the party on Instagram and include the hashtags: #myboymartin, #hood, #killem, #ihaveadream, and #blackoutformlk! How did they not know this was racist? Or did they but just didn’t care?
20. A racist culture is when a presidential candidate tans himself to appeal to a latino audience.
21. It’s when people are shocked to learn that you are a person of color who is intelligent and together.
22. The mark of a racist culture is when a self-proclained good-looking white gay guy can write an article about how he’s not attracted to black men and virtually nobody in the comments blinks, defending him, even. But when I write a thing about how white people feel they are more discriminated against than black people, I get hate emails.
23. And finally, the real trait of the racist culture is every single comment on this article that perpetuates all of the above. You be the judge of which.