Reality Adjustments

Racism is a Spectrum, Not a Switch

Jan 27, 2019

Nobody likes being labeled a racist.

When someone is called a racist, the response will predictably be “I’m not.”  Followed by: “My boyfriend is black. My best friend is white.  I’m brown.”  Or the cringe-worthy: “I don’t see color.”  (As if denying cultural heritage frees you of race.)

But matters surrounding blackness and whiteness are not so black and white.  When we talk about racism, it’s not you are or you aren’t.  There is shade, depth and nuance.  It is analogue, not digital.

Here’s a quick test.  Say you get called out for behaving in a racist way.  Somebody tells you “That’s racist!”  The correct reaction is:

A) No, I am not a racist.

B) You sure got me there.  Thank you for pointing it out.  I’ll look into it.

If you answered A, then you may be under the subtle spell of an extremist either/or mindset—the kind of mindset that is often exploited by fascism.

And what if you are the one calling someone else out?  If you don’t properly communicate the spectrum, then you might be adding to the spell.

The spectrum applies to all forms of bigotry: Sexism, ageism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious discrimination....

We live in exciting times.  We are seeing each other in ways like never before.  Social media is helping reveal just how bad things still are.  But at least now we can see.

We must be wary of those who deliberately exploit racism for personal and political gain.  Millions can be stirred into a frenzy by dangerous leaders.  Leaders who divide while saying "No, I'm not a racist."  When given power, such leaders have historically implemented institutionalized either/or racism.

Racism is a spectrum, not a switch.  We good?

The Tilted Glass