Martin Luther King Jr.'s nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr., on what racism is versus what constitutes a racist behavior due to insensitivity or ignorance.
President Donald Trump proclaimed “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
In response, The View co-host Kelly Osbourne trying to refute him said: “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” When someone tweeted to comedian Steve Martin “How do you spell “lasonia”? He jokingly tweeted back: “It depends if you are in an African American neighborhood or an Italian restaurant.” Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. tweeted in 2012: “Jeremy Lin is a good player, but all the hype is because he’s Asian.”
All of these statements have racist overtones but does that mean that the people who made them are racist?
The traditional definition of a racist is one who judges an individual’s humanity on the color of their skin. In other words, an individual who did not have white skin was judged not to be a human being, they were judged as sub-human and to be an inferior species similar to monkeys and apes. The definition of prejudice is (1) a preconceived judgment or opinion (2) an adverse opinion formed or an action taken without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.
The two, racist and prejudice, are commonly thought to be one in the same or synonymous with each other. This is a common mistake that all of us are prone to make because of the racism that has existed throughout American history. In order to pretend to be true to America’s founding principle, “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, and justify slavery, the lie that people of color were sub-human, genetically closer to apes and not equal to full-blooded white skinned human beings had to be accepted as fact!
Jim Crow Laws March. White parents did not want their kids attending school with sub-human negro kids.
Photographed: Buddy Trammell, Max Stiles and Tommy Sanders in Clinton, Tennessee. 27 August 1956. (Associated Press)
Even after fighting the Civil War, a war that to date has the highest American casualty rate at over 600,000 lives lost, to end slavery in America and the passage of the 14th amendment that gave former slaves full American citizenship, racism was used to justify SEGREGATION and Jim Crow laws. Traditional American racist adhered to the same ideology as Adolf Hitler’s Nazi’s, that people of white skin were genetically superior to sub-human people with colored skin.
The only way white America could sleep at night knowing of the legal Jim Crow segregation taking place in the south, and the economic segregation taking place all over America was acceptance of the racist theory of blacks being inferior to whites. Within America’s pre-Civil Rights racial insanity 2 things were actually happening but through practice got blended into one, creating the problem we face today.
The 2 things that got blended into 1 was racism and prejudice. Racism is the designation of sub-human status for non-white individuals. Prejudice is the behavior of the designator after racism is designated. John is black and inferior (racism) so therefore he must be kept from socially interacting with white people (prejudice behavior). After 200 plus years of the lie of American racism and prejudice, the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., moved America to proclaim in word and deed the lie of racism and the truth of the humanity of all people regardless of skin color. It was the concluding act to what the founding fathers started when they first proclaimed “that all men are created equal”.
Unfortunately, after 200 plus years of conscious acceptance of the lie of racism into the American psyche, the now conscious non-acceptance of racism into the American psyche is at best an unconscious myth acceptance of racism, and at worst an unconscious fact acceptance of racism for all Americans.
European Youth Campaign Against Racism.
The unconscious acceptance of racism is strong among all people. Studies dating back to the 1940’s and current online viral videos show children at early stages of intelligence, of all races when shown a picture of a black person and a white person, and then asked to select the good person, all children both black and white select the white person. This is an example of the systemic racism that exists in America, hidden systematic bias so ingrained within the system its automatic not relying on any individual to commit the racism, the system itself does it.
Acknowledgment of this is important because people are confusing prejudice and racist sayings and acts as racism, or as coming from racist hearted people. It’s possible for any of us to exhibit racist behavior and not be racist. This could be due to ignorance or from the effects of constant exposure to the systemic racist environment we all have evolved in. Conversely, it’s possible for any of us to exhibit racist behavior and in fact be a racist.
We must be careful not to have double standards when it comes to racism.
So when someone says something considered racist, how can we determine whether or not they are racist? We should apply the traditional definition of racism and if what they have said meets it, then they are a racist. Applying the traditional definition and not having a new “2018” definition of racism, as was recently suggested to me by a clueless TV talk show host, is a MUST for future harmonious race relations in America.
Years ago non-homosexuals who had no issues with homosexuality commonly referred to homosexual men as f•ggs and homosexual woman as d•kes. Exposure of non-homosexuals to homosexuality issues and concerns caused them to start to refer to homosexual men as gay and homosexual women as a lesbian. Today non-homosexuals understand those terms are considered derogatory, they didn’t know it at the time. The Atlanta Braves baseball team had, as part of their logo, a caricature of an Indian that everyone thought appropriate for years. When Native American groups suggested that it was not, the Braves changed the logo because they were ignorant of the racist overtones the caricature projected.
To now create a new so-called 2018 definition of a racist that declares saying and doing racist things makes you a racist, means we will never conquer racism! How could it be possible when you’re having a continuous cycle of shame and persecution? We will be creating new racist every day based on what somebody inadvertently said.
The standard of “did the person say anything that implied that one race was genetically inferior to another” must be upheld. However, having not met that test does not let the individual off the hook.
If a person says that Haiti and Africa are “shit-hole” countries, that person should be asked if they mean that people from Haiti and Africa are an inferior sub-human species. If that person’s reply is no but they say they meant that people in those countries are not educated, then that individual should be criticized loudly and aggressively as an ignorant uninformed person saying racist things, but they should not be accused of being a racist person. To do otherwise is putting the potency of the racist label at severe risk.
Currently, the label of racist is the modern day equivalent of a Scarlett Letter. One rightfully loses respectability, income, and friendships overnight as an indication of how opposed American society is to racism. Almost everyone runs from the label not just because of the personal harm it can do, but also because America has pretty much conquered and defeated the very IDEA of racism. Meaning 95% of Americans buy into the principle that we are all human beings, both black and white. Even the majority of the remaining 5% of racists will ask you to step outside if you call them a racist.
The recent Charlottesville rallies showed the damage being done by recklessly applying the racist label. It was the first time Klu Klux Klansmen proudly showed their faces as they spoke their racist phrases and burned their torches. When asked why the change they replied that “all white people are called racist these days so why not wear it proudly”.
More damaging is the potential for enlightenment that racist labeling eliminates. I cannot get a person who says Africa is a shit-hole to see the error of their ways by starting the conversation off calling them a racist, especially if they think they are not because they are abiding by the traditional definition. There’s no way to express to the person that there is both a literal adherence to the definition and a spiritual adherence to the definition. Without dialogue, it’s impossible to explain that although they believe that Africans are equal human being children of God, to say they are all uneducated is the fruit of the racist tree.
None of us are God and we lack his ability of discernment and the power to look into someone’s mind or heart. We must give everyone the benefit of doubt when they say or do something that is questionable as racist. Unless their actions or words say unequivocally affirmatively “yes that person or those people are genetically inferior to white human beings”, THEY ARE NOT A RACIST. They are guilty of racist behavior most likely due to insensitivity, ignorance, and unfortunately for political expedience, but not a racist heart!🔷
(This piece was first published on Isaac Newton Farris Jr.'s website.)