I’m Not Racist and Neither Are You

two women having coversation about racist and racism

This is racism gaslighting

This is racism gaslighting a picture of a black woman having a conversation with a white man racist
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“Yes my dears, all White people are racists. All. Of. Them,” said Marley K. in her online article. That article about racism has 13,000 claps, over 1,200 comments, and 1,700 Facebook shares.

In addition, Ola Caracola may be more conservative in saying, “not all white people are bigots.” But, personally, I’m starting to feel gaslighted.

And now they–whoever “they” are–are gaslighting our kids. Parents of kindergarteners (6-year-olds) received a letter from Nahliah Webber, director of Orleans Public Education Network, that read, “there’s a killer cop sitting at every school where white children learn.” The letter continues, “white kids are being indoctrinated in black death.” 

The Cat in the Hat is racist. Now what?

Image of Read Across America, an NEA project with Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat

“The Cat’s physical appearance, including the Cat’s oversized top hat, floppy bow tie, white gloves, and frequently open mouth, mirrors actual blackface performers; as does the role he plays as ‘entertainer’ to the white family—in whose house he doesn’t belong,” Katie Ishizuka, the conscious kid

The Cat in the Hat is now racist:

  • President Biden avoided mentioning Dr. Seuss in his presidential proclamation for Read Across America.
  • Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian in Cambridge, MA, refused the former President’s gift of 10 Dr. Seuss books.
  • Likewise, This Virginia school district ordered its teachers to avoid reading Seuss’s works to students due to “racial undertones.”
  • And now Dr. Seuss Enterprises will stop printing six of his books due to ‘hurtful’ portrayals.
Michelle Obama reading The Cat In The Hat to school children wearing Dr. Seuss themed hats for Read Across America NEA

I wonder why Dr. Seuss Enterprises doesn’t stop printing the Cat in the Hat? Maybe because that book draws in $33 million every year. The other books…not so much. So, ban ’em.

Racism caused global warming and fat people

And now President Biden’s Senior Director for Environmental Justice, Dr. Cecilia Martinez, blames global warming on systematic racism:

“Unless intentionally interrupted, systemic racism will continue to be a major obstacle to creating a healthy planet. The only path forward is to design national climate policies that are centered on justice.” – Dr. Cecilia Martinez

But that’s not all. Apparently, people are overweight and unhealthy because the Body Mass Index (BMI), created by Adolphe Quetelet in 1832, primarily used white men to create its scale and is thus “racist and useless,” according to Christine Byrne.

WTF is a racist anyhow?

“Racism, ultimately, is an expression of power linked to a complex system of human subjugation that has a basis in a perverse and incendiary science, history, and politics of race. But racism itself is born from the illicit marriage between white supremacy and anti-Blackness.” – David E. Kirkland, professor of urban education at New York University

Professor Kirkland’s definition of racism, including seven different levels that “flatten on top of each other and move in directions, converging and diverging at moments,” makes things–more confusing.

Jeremy Williams of The Earthbound Report explains it a bit better, using only four levels, versus 7 of Professor Kirland:

  1. Personal. First, this is something inside all of us. It is a “collection of prejudices and beliefs that every person has.” It comes from our experience and upbringing. It is our natural instinct to compare.
  2. Interpersonal. Second, this is what most people think of when they think of racism, of “words and deeds of racist individuals.” This is when bias and bigotry turn into abuse. This is visible racism.
  3. Institutional. Third, this is policy-driven and shows up in statistics, such as employment, healthcare, crime, education, etc. 
  4. Systemic. Also called structural. Finally, this is the buildup of all three racisms: personal, interpersonal, and institutional. It is the continual progress of racism that lasts generations. Because it is racism that is embedded in the system.
Four levels of racism include personal interpersonal institutional and structural or systemic racist
Image via Earthbound Report

Does that make me racist?

On a personal level, everyone has some sort of racial comparison mechanism. This includes blacks. 

Yes, all black people have racist ideologies.

Don’t make assumptions. Racism, at its core, is a comparison. Therefore, when someone inherently believes that one race attribute is better or worse than an attribute of another race, that is a racist belief.

This means that black people can be racists against black people. If they feel they are inferior, they are racist on a personal level. 

“the only thing wrong with Black people is that we think something is wrong with Black people.”

― Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

But does that mean I’m a racist? The issue is that we are trying to draw a line–either, or. The problem is, there is no clear line between good and evil, racist or not.

Certainly everyone holds a race-based comparison belief, but not everyone acts out on the belief. Moreover, what fuels the belief?

Well-intended policy fuels racism

In his 600-page book Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi, outlines the cause-and-effect of racism. There are “good” men and women who try to reduce systemic racism by creating protective policies, but ultimately it is the policy that creates the base of racist belief.

“Time and again, racist ideas have not been cooked up from the boiling pot of ignorance and hate. Time and again, powerful and brilliant men and women have produced racist ideas in order to justify the racist policies of their era, in order to redirect the blame for their era’s racial disparities away from those policies and onto Black people.”

― Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

For instance, to curtail the high school dropout rates of black teens, school districts may enact programs that target disadvantaged youth. Similarly, by creating these programs, students may begin to think, “why do I need this extra help?” They may think of themselves as less than the other students. This creates racist thought patterns, which are the basis of all racism.

So what do we do about racism?

Ultimately, we have a conversation. At the beginning of Black History Month, I didn’t know what I know now. Most progress is made in learning and being willing to have a conversation.

  • Being afraid to offend someone is not progress.
  • Calling everyone racist is not progress.

However, for most of us, most of the time, race is not an issue. This DOES NOT negate systemic racism, racist policies, or other ongoing race-related issues that we need to deal with. However, in our day-to-day lives, race is our compelling motivator.

Above all, I believe our process is twofold. One, we shouldn’t be afraid to start a conversation. We should get over our fears and hesitancies. Two, we live our lives with continued authenticity. Does something we do or say, sound racist? It might be, but instead of offense, let’s have a conversation.

Comedy, writing, and art

I enjoy exploring comedy (here and here) and writing and supporting other writers (here and here). Sometimes my work has sexual references, or it triggers people. But isn’t that what art is supposed to do? To get people to think? Above all, to question?

I sharply remember walking into Yale University’s Art Gallery and seeing Titus Kaphar’s art for the first time. It was a full-wall painting of George Washington sitting on top of an anemic horse, crossing a barren and stormy land. Next, as I walked closer, I saw pinned to the painting–yes, physically pinned–were strips of aged paper with names written on each strip. The names represented the names of slaves that George Washington owned. Mr. Kaphar did what great artists do–made me think.

But then you have people that deface other people’s art, such as demonstrators that spray-painted a monument to George Washington. This doesn’t contribute to the discussion. If anything, it takes away from someone else’s art.

You’re not racist

In conclusion, if you are reading this, I know that you aren’t a bigoted human being that goes around demonstrating or pronouncing how you are better than any other human being. Because, to be told so is a disservice to you. It harms the discussion. It defaces your art.

However, continue doing what you are doing. Ask questions. Make art. Vote for people that you believe represent your beliefs. And above all, love your fellow brothers and sisters.

What are your thoughts?

Is there something that got canceled or called out that you are confused about? Do you feel your kids are being educated to question beliefs they haven’t yet established? What are your contributions to end or reduce systemic racism?

Let’s connect

You can shoot me an email or join my mailing by dropping your email here. Or, reach out and say hello by connecting on social media here. Above all, be well, my friend!

Two women talking with title this is racism gaslighting article what is racist about
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3 Comments

  1. We should learn from our mistakes. How can we learn if we don’t see them daily and teach our kids the difference between what is wrong and right? Books with questionable images should be used to teach kids. Dr. Seuss helped teach me to read. I love everyone. Everyone means everyone. I also read Mein Kampf as a young man so I would know what to watch out for if evil ever returned. It has. Let’s end it.

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