What Is Racism? Part 1

Godsize

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Yo guys, peep this essay and make comments. It's really long, so I broke it up into three parts to make it easier to digest.


What is Racism?

Everyone talks about "racism" but no one ever defines it. AR's assistant editor has given it a try.

By Thomas Jackson

There is surely no nation in the world that holds "racism" in greater horror than does the United States. Compared to other kinds of offenses, it is thought to be somehow more reprehensible. The press and public have become so used to tales of murder, rape, robbery, and arson, that any but the most spectacular crimes are shrugged off as part of the inevitable texture of American life. "Racism" is never shrugged off.
For example, when a white Georgetown Law School student reports that black students are less well qualified than white students, it sets off a booming, national controversy about "racism." If the student had merely murdered someone he would have attracted far less attention and criticism.

Racism is, indeed, the national obsession. Universities are on full alert for it, newspapers and politicians denounce it, churches preach against it, America is said to be racked with it, but just what is racism?

Dictionaries are not much help in understanding what is meant by the word. They usually define it as the belief that one's own ethnic stock is superior to others, or as the belief that culture and behavior are rooted in race. When Americans speak of racism they mean a great deal more than this.

Nevertheless, the dictionary definition of racism is a clue to understanding what Americans do mean. A peculiarly American meaning derives from the current dogma that all ethnic stocks are equal. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, all races have been declared to be equally talented and hard-working, and anyone who questions the dogma is thought to be not merely wrong but evil.

The dogma has logical consequences that are profoundly important. If blacks, for example, are equal to whites in every way, what accounts for their poverty, criminality, and dissipation? Since any theory of racial differences has been outlawed, the only possible explanation for black failure is white racism. And since blacks are markedly poor, crime-prone, and dissipated, America must be racked with a pervasive and horrible racism. Nothing else could be keeping them--the undisputed equals of whites--in such an abject state.

All public discourse on race today is locked into this rigid logic. Any explanation for black failure that does not depend on white wickedness threatens to veer off into the forbidden territory of racial differences. Thus, even if today's whites can find in their hearts no desire to oppress blacks, yesterday's whites must have oppressed them. If whites do not consciously oppress blacks, they must oppress them unconsciously. If no obviously racist individuals can be identified, then institutions must be racist. Or, since blacks are failing so terribly in America, there simply must be millions of white people we do not know about, who are working day and night to keep blacks in misery. The dogma of racial equality leaves no room for an explanation of black failure that is not, in some fashion, an indictment of white people.

 
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