The Idiot’s Guide to Racism
So you want to be a racist. How wonderful! You’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, I’ll provide you with a simple step-by-step approach, including illustrative examples, so that you can become the best racist you can be!
Ready? Let’s get started!
So, what is racism? Racism is defined as …
STOP! Congratulations! You’ve already reached a milestone in your short journey to becoming a racist.
LESSON ONE: Never admit to being a racist.
How’s that possible, you’re wondering.
The key is to understand that if people can’t agree what racism is, they can’t know whether any given person or thing is racist. Obvious, right? I told you this would be easy.
Now, this does NOT mean that the ambitious racist should argue that racism is impossible to define. Exactly the opposite, in fact. He should make certain that debate about racism never advances beyond a never-ending argument over its definition.
Got it? So go out there and confuse, obfuscate, bewilder.
- Is racism, strictly speaking, merely one version of prejudice? Is it limited to individual attitudes and beliefs? Or can an institution, an ideology, a system be racist, too?
- That is, maybe racism is a subjective thing, tied to an intention to discriminate. No, no, racism can be the unintended but foreseeable consequence of the way a system naturally functions.
- Argument: anyone can be racist. Counter: racism is tied to power and privilege, and so it’s nonsensical to describe as racist an oppressed racial minority. (Help, I’m so confused!)
- Supreme Court Justice John Roberts had it right: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Nope! Justice Sotomayor did: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”
See how that works? When you’ve embroiled everyone in endless wrangling over definitions, you yourself can begin your brilliant career as a racist.
Maybe you’re thinking that you’ll have to stock up on white sheets, wooden crosses, and rope.
Hardly. After decades of trial and error, modern-day racists understand that all it really takes is some gumption and a business suit. Yes, the KKKers were vigilantes who concealed their identities under hoods. But today, there’s no need! You can hide in plain sight!
There are a number of ways to “hide in plain sight.” One tried-and-true method? Consider what Benjamin Franklin once wrote: half a truth is often a great lie.
LESSON TWO: In our society, racism is an open door — you don’t have to break it down or pick the lock. Just put your hand on it and push.
Need an example? Okay, here goes.
Here’s a terrible incident of black-on-black crime in my hometown. Ultimately, relying apparently on the evidence of an accomplice turned state’s witness, the DA charged 12 defendants with malice murder, aggravated assault, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, violation of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and violation of Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
Can you spot the “open door” here? Good for you!
There was a crime. Two men were shot, one of them fatally. The authorities believed a gang was responsible.
Now, if it’s true that many whites fear violence from blacks, it’s doubly true that they are deathly afraid of violence from organized blacks. So by furnishing the public with the alleged “thug” or “gangster” names for these defendants — Rude Bei, T, Webbie, and so on — some veteran racist made sure that the trial of his fellow citizens began in the newspapers, on television, and on the Internet. You know, with anonymous webpage comments like these:
We need to aggressively seek and administer the death penalty. Bring back the chair. Cruel and unusual punishment? It’s cruel and unusual for the government to expect these low life slugs to be productive members of society. It’s also cruel and unusual punishment for the government to fail to protect the law abiding citizens.
The only problem with the death penalty is that we don’t use it enough. These are nothing but feral dogs and they need to be rounded up and gassed with about the same amount of ceremony.
From that same case, I derive your third lesson in racism.
LESSON THREE: When it comes to racism, fortune favors the bold.
You might think that 150 years after the approval of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, after all the work and sacrifices of the Civil Rights Era, after our country elected president (twice!) a biracial man who identifies as black, and for that matter after the Holocaust, after Ghandi, after Nelson Mandela — you might think that the more extreme or obvious a person’s racist behavior, the stronger the reaction it is bound to elicit.
But you’d be wrong.
In this case, for instance, a half dozen of the supposed gang members, having been denied bail two and a half years ago, are still in prison after all this time. With, to my knowledge, no date set for their trial. (The actual perpetrators were convicted of malice murder and other crimes in June.)
“What the heck!” seems like the expected reaction. “In America, for God’s sake, we don’t toss people into a dungeon and throw away the key! Last time I looked, Guantanamo is still in Cuba! Are we supposed to believe that because a bunch of yahoos in the Georgia legislature added ‘terrorism’ to the title of their anti-gang legislation, these young black men in rural Georgia are the equivalent of Al-Qaeda? At least a couple of them were just teenagers when they were locked up! With real criminals! Notwithstanding the fact that they have no criminal history, no priors! Kids, mind you, who’ve been declaring their innocence all this time! Holding out! Resisting pressure to accept a plea bargain!”
In fact, though, here’s what people are undoubtedly thinking: “Look, last time I checked, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If these ‘kids’ were denied bail and locked up for more than two years, they must be guilty.”
You know, post hoc ergo propter hoc.
Witness the power and beauty of racism. We start with a beloved, innocent, ingenuous, hopeful black child. And then through the genius of racism, one of two things happens. Either the injustice and hopelessness of systemic racism help to transform him into an actual “badass nigga,” or if not, systemic racism labels and treats him as such. The outcome is the same.
Like I said, genius. So let’s review:
- Never admit to being a racist.
- There’s no need! In our society, you can be a racist even while you’re denying you’re a racist.
- In fact, the more racist you are, the less racist you appear to be!
Good luck! And check out other titles in our series, which include So You Want to Sexually Harass Your Assistant and The Insider’s Guide to Class Warfare by Charles and David Koch.