It is time to stop cowering. Charges of racism have become meaningless.
There are so many definitions that currently, by one definition or another, everyone is a racist.
Forget about the past. You may still have a self-image of yourself which is free of racism. You may claim you have never done anything racist, or discriminated in any way. You may even count your anti-discrimination credentials. Your support, or even your “fight” for equality may be fresh in your memory.
Doesn’t matter. There is nothing you can do. None of that will save you.
Somewhere there is a definition that will make you, no matter who you are or what you have done, a racist.
College administrators and some politicians are especially pathetic in this regard. They believe that if they pay a sufficient indulgence, their racial sins will be forgiven. Where’s Martin Luther when we need him?
If you are a white male, you are automatically a racist. Since classifying an entire race with a universal negative is racist, the people calling white males racist are racists.
White women are racist. They may not have been racist last year, but since their culture is systemically racist and they have not done all they can to bring down this evil culture, they are, by definition, racist.
Since the people calling white women racists are looking at all aspects of culture and history through the lens of race, they too are racist.
Asians are racist by some strange logic, because they have embraced “privileged” racist values such as family, hard work, and education.
Mentioning this is also racist.
By one definition or another, we are all racists.
In other words, the term has become entirely meaningless.
The best we can do to find any meaning in the word is to define it as a pejorative used against someone you don’t like. Why you may not like the person could vary dramatically and is generally irrelevant to any historical and sane definition of the term.
Another possibility is that the word may be used as a tactical or strategic nuke to achieve a goal that may or may not be associated with any given meaning of the term. Sort of like shouting obscenities for the purpose of intimidation.
So, get used to it. You are a racist.
On one hand you can gain solace by realizing that everyone you know is also a racist. On the other hand, if you must wallow in guilt, recognizing sin may be useful as the first step toward redemption.
But this misses the point.
You don’t have to accept every definition that comes down the road.
You could actually look into your own mind and soul and decide for yourself. Most people have an internal compass that tells them how to treat others.
Just because some mid-level intellectual at a university, or someone looking for political advantage, or another venting their anger, calls you out doesn’t mean that you have to accept their definitions.
Dennis Clayson is a retired marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.
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