Atlantic: Ta-Nehisi Coates: Another way of thinking about “racism without racists”

Atlantic: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Another way of thinking about “racism without racists”

Allow me the liberty of generalizing here–whites are most concerned about racial bigotry. That is, “I don’t believe in interracial marriage” or “I don’t want black people living next to me” or even “I think black people are prone to crime.”

Black folks don’t like racial bigotry, but they’re mostly concerned–not about racism as bigotry–butracism as oppression. That’s a loaded word, I know. But let’s go to the dictionary” an unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.” I think job discrimination falls under that category. I think redlining falls under that category. I’d hesitate to call the drug war “racial oppression,” but with that definition, I think there is a case. So, as I’ve mentioned in comments, blacks aren’t so much worried about whether white people like them, they’re worried about the fact that in New York City, their job prospects are about the same as white guy with a record. In that world you can have a guy who isn’t a racist bigot–but in fact is a racist oppressor. It may be “racism without racists” but it’s still “racism with racist oppressors.” Frankly, that terrifies me.

From a black perspective, the intent of white people is irrelevant–the effects are what matter. Thus we fear–I fear–this perverse self-congratulation over the fact that “racism as racial bigotry” has been banished, while “racism as racial oppression” lingers. I don’t much care about Obama and white racism because he won’t suffer any racial oppression. Heh, one could argue that white racists who vote against him could be contributing to the oppression of themselves.The “racial bigotry” fight is weird because, truthfully, only white people themselves can truly answer that question. It has to do with what’s in a man’s heart. But the question of racial oppression is much clearer. Certainly there’s much much less of it today than there was a half a century ago. But it’s still a big problem.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: