Dear fellow white people: Have you ever wondered what you should do when you’re called racist? Well have no fear, The Washington Post is here – and more than happy to shine a spotlight (with two conveniently placed dark spots to make it look like a KKK hood) on your implicit racial biases and offer a simple five-step program for your rehabilitation.
Racism is real – don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t – but it’s a two-way street. Not all white people are racist and, no, you don’t have to be white to be racist. But that truth doesn’t fit the social justice narrative of the progressive left, a story that is perpetuated by The Post in an article titled “Dear fellow white people: Here’s what to do when you’re called racist.” Now, to give credit where credit is due, the author does make some sound suggestions that anyone who strives to not be an ass should probably follow. If only she had stopped there. But, as you might expect from a professor who serves as a faculty fellow for diversity, power dynamics, and social justice, author Rebecca Hains just can’t help but ruin it by assuming a white person is always guilty because, well, racism. Oh, and of course this is really all about Trump. The first word in the article is literally “Trump.”
We’ll skip the three-paragraph anti-Trump intro and the equally long section dedicated to unconscious racism. Let’s assume, for whatever reason, you have just been accused of being a racist and didn’t intend your words to be interpreted so. Here’s what she suggests:
Step 1: Recognize that what matters most is what happened just now.
“You can be called out for racist remarks even if you have black friends and relatives you cherish,” Hains writes. She isn’t wrong. Her advice to realize that the current issue is what you just said or did rather than your backstory is correct. Don’t come back at an accusation of racism with “but I have <insert number here> black friends!” For one thing, it sounds phony. More importantly, it’s completely irrelevant to what you said, meant to say, or what the other person interpreted your meaning to be.
But one point the author ignores is the fact that not everything perceived as racist actually is. Beyond that, just because someone calls you racist doesn’t mean they really think you are. We’ve seen time and again how progressives shut down just about any conversation that isn’t going their way by shifting from arguing the point – if they even bothered to begin with – to accusations of bigotry. Chances are good that if you’re accused of white supremacy and Trump worship simply for speaking while white, you’re dealing with a race-baiter with little or nothing worth hearing. In these cases, you aren’t the problem – they are.
Step 2: Remember the broader context.
Is it your fault that some people have chips on their shoulders? No, of course not. But it’s still good to keep in mind that everyone has a different background and that not everyone will interpret your words as you mean them. This involves genuinely misunderstood comments. The author goes directly to implicit, or unconscious, racial bias. Well, okay, that’s a thing too.
Dropping the N-bomb on someone and telling them to get out of your nice, white neighborhood is explicitly racist and should require no explanation. But we’re talking about making blanket assumptions for an entire group of people. Black people are good at basketball and Asians are good at math, for example. That’s still racist, no matter how unintentional or seemingly innocent.
It’s also entirely natural, and most people of every group – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion – does it at some point. Men and women make generalized assumptions about each other that are almost never true 100% of the time, and the same goes for race – yep, even people of color are guilty of this one. This is a far cry from burning crosses on folks’ lawns because of the color of their skin.
Step 3: Stay calm and ask for clarification.
This is perhaps the best suggestion Hains offers. Don’t respond immediately with anger and accuse the other person of being racist against you, at least not yet. First, calmly find out what was so offensive. Forget the response she suggests; it’s either overly submissive or obviously condescending, depending on how you say it. Instead, simply ask, “What did I say or do that you felt was racist, and what was racist about it?”
Hains, of course, would hardly approve if she heard a white person utter those words – no matter how calmly and free of hate – to a person of color. After all, “it isn’t the job of people of color to educate white people, and you are not owed a direct explanation, as much as you might like one,” she writes. While her own bias is plain to see from the first sentence of the article, this is where it really goes off the rails. Don’t be entitled? Forget that. Be entitled – ask and expect an answer. Regardless of the crime, the accused is always entitled to an explanation of what he or she did wrong – and yes, it is the offended party’s responsibility to answer those questions. It isn’t victim blaming; it’s accounting for the fact that sometimes people misunderstand situations and sometimes people falsely accuse others outright. This author seems completely incapable of conceiving that the accused white person might not be in the wrong.
Step 4: Really listen to the answer(s) you receive.
What’s the point in asking a question if you’re going to disregard the answer? There’s nothing wrong with hearing another person out, and allowing your question to be answered without interruption is just the right thing to do no matter the topic of conversation. At least here Hains says you don’t have to instantly agree with the offered explanation. She kind of ruins it by saying that you might not understand white privilege, but she’s still being more open-minded here than the vast majority of social justice folk.
Step 5: Express gratitude – then get to work.
“Be sure to thank the person who offers you an explanation. The fact that you were (1) called out and (2) offered an explanation may feel uncomfortable, but it is a valuable gift, and your discomfort is productive,” Hains claims. Ah yes, back to the old “I’m so sorry for being white; thank you for not letting me get away with it.” This is the irony of progressive identity politics. Folks should be racist because racism is bad. Such a shame all white people are racist, regardless of what they actually believe!
Express gratitude and get to work. Think deeply about what you’re told. Eh, maybe. It depends on the situation. Even if the offended person believed you were hating on them, that doesn’t mean you were, and it doesn’t mean your accuser’s opinion requires any action from you. Ultimately, there’s no right to not have your feelings hurt. There is a right to say what you want – even if you’re an ass for saying it.
But back to Hains’ argument: If you’re white, then you are born into privilege and owe it to all people of color to grovel before any accusation of racism regardless of its validity – and don’t you dare demand an explanation from the offended party. If they do tell you what you did wrong and how to go about fixing it, you’ve been truly blessed. Now you can begin to correct the racism you didn’t even know you had.
Racism is real – but Hains and her ilk pretend that it only comes from white folk and that all whites are guilty. My fellow white people, ignore such idiocy.
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