For a long time now, I’ve been wondering how it is that anyone could call Barak Obama racist for saying, for example, that Trayvon Martin could have been his son or that he is fomenting racial hatred because he says that too many Black men are dying at the hands of the police.  To me, both are simply objective observations by a President in attempting to humanize or otherwise illuminate racial problems.   How, I asked myself, could anyone come up with the idea – much reported in the media – that by claiming Trayvon Martin for his own was fanning racial hatred?  It just made no sense to me. 

But unbeknownst to me, apparently we as a society have changed the definition of racism since my youth (the 1960’s) or if not the core definition, then the genesis of racism.  No longer is racism and discrimination a product of willful or inadvertent practices and actions by, say, our police departments stopping Black men for no good reason, Federal Agencies like HUD excluding African Americans from subsidized housing or the real estate industry’s (and the Feds) practice of excluding minorities from certain neighborhoods through redlining.  This, as I knew, was the macro racial scene on the racial front.  The other component, personal racism, was based on personal, individual utterances and actions against minorities by people who were ignorant, was the mirco-social scene.  (Studies show that racism and biased racial attitudes decline with increasing levels of education.)  Increased exposure to Blacks, Latinos, Jews, Native Americans & etc. would reduce inter-group animosity since studies show too that with increasing cross group contact, racism is reduced as well. 

The first macro racial scene was to be fixed by enlightened legislation, targeted lawsuits and training and educational programs.  The latter micro, personal  racial scene, was to be ameliorated by integration of neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and other social constructs that promoted cross group fertilization, as it were.  Both fronts were  prime elements of how America confronted and was to resolved its racial divides.   

But somewhere along the line, my take on macro and micro race issues got superseded by definitional changes.   Society does this.  Over time, a particular term – “liberal,” for example – morphs into a different definition sometimes diametrically opposed to what the original definition might be.  Used to be that “liberal” in a personal sense referred to someone who believed in equal rights for everyone regardless of race, creed, religion or ethnicity, but over the past three decades has come to mean “weak, socialist, anti-patriotic and subversive” individuals who are out to destroy America.

The same shift in definition has occurred with the definition of racism.  It now means, according to a recent article in the New York Times [BIAS CHARGE], someone who has evil in his heart, is racist in his personal outlook, his singular view of minorities.  Gone, apparently, is any reference to “institutional” racism (redlining, steering, systematic exclusion, etc.) the more pervasive and, indeed, the more egregious form of racism.  The Justice Department, in its report on the Ferguson Police Debarment, outlined a list of “systematic actions" that the Police Department undertook that promoted racism towards Ferguson’s African American community.  Even this one, small, study highlighted pervasive, systematic discrimination in a mini-macro sense as opposed to the personal attitudes and views of individual police officers.  (This is why “sensitivity training” will not work.)  But in today’s redefinition of “racism” it’s White folks who play the race card claiming that they are the ones who are discriminated against and not all those “other” minority groups. 

As David Duke is quoted as saying, “There’s massive racial discrimination against European Americans and that’s the reality.”


Sot there you have it folks!  It’s not Blacks, or Latinos, or Women or the Handicapped or LGBT folks who are discriminated against, it’s White Folks!  Now he didn’t say this, of course.  He only said that – and I’m completing his thought -  in addition to discrimination against all the groups (and more) there is ALSO massive discrimination against White people.

But this only works, only has traction, if you adopt the new definition of “racism” that is simply “racism of the heart,” the evil work of people with hatred in their hearts (bigots) and not institutional racism.  And this is a very convenient thing for White folks to believe in because by adopting this view there is no need to reform social institutions since they are not the genesis of racism.   Individuals are.  Thus society as a whole need not be concerned about such reform since racism is the result of the sins of the few.  And this had been the ascendant "theme" about race since Obama's election in 2008, if not before. 

Thus when Trump criticized Mexican-American Judge Curiel for being biased against him and Paul Ryan called ‘it” a racist comment – “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment”-  is what he actually said.  Yet, he could not and did not bring himself to call Trump racist.  Why?  Well as he said: “I’m saying the comment [it] was racist.  I don’t know what’s in his heart.”  Ryan could not speak to the state of Trump’s heart and soul because only God could actually divine Trump’s heart and soul.  Note, if you will, the placing of racism at God's feet, not human beings. 

Trump also coached his surrogates to call out the people who were asking if he, Trump, was racist. “The people asking the question, those are the racists.  I would go at ‘em.”  This is the end result of the re-definition of racism to mean the evil, the bigotry in one’s heart as opposed to more general social, institutional racism.  Now anyone can be racist, can be the victims of racism and why Barak Obama is sincerely accused of “fanning racial hatred” or why disgruntled Whites are race victims.  This is why Black Lives Matter can be so readily derided as a “racist organization,” why Al Sharpton, Beyoncé Knowles and Kanye West are considered racist.  Or advocates of bussing and quotas and folks who object to Voter ID Laws, are not decrying racism but are racist (in their hearts) themselves.  When racism comes from an evil heart, there is simply no such thing as racism if you and I are not racist, as we would all profess.  In our hearts and in our souls we can legitimately say that we are not racists.  Institutional racism doesn’t exist by this definition because, after all how can the real estate or mortgage industry be racist?  After all, they have no hearts, they have no souls.  The Supreme Court has ruled that they have the same legal rights as people but the Supremes have not ruled on the issue of their hearts and souls.

Honestly the New York Times article was a revelation for me.  I had not realized that our commonly held definition of racist and racism had changed.  I wasn’t expecting this.  But in truth I should have known since the definition of “liberal” has morphed from a good thing into an evil thing over the past couple of decades.  But the exposition in the article explains a lot.  I now understand how and why people can accuse Obama of being racist and why Trump is not.  Or why Black Lives Matter can be decried in the media as a racist organization while David Duke is not a racist even though he heads up the KKK. 

Whites as victims of racism?  It is a fundamental precept of Fascism that in order to succeed as an ideology it must identify “victims.”   It must appeal to one group over all others.  It must promote victimization no matter what the facts may show.  And those Whites who are Trump supporters do believe that they are victims of race-based discrimination.  But such a posture could not be further from the truth than if Adolph Hitler were simply a misunderstood champion of the German people. 

Whites as victims?  I’m not buying it.  I’m not buying it despite the decades of vicious daily onslaught against liberals, liberal values and liberal beliefs from such right wing airwave pundits like Rush Limbaugh.  Just as I have never waivered from calling myself a “liberal” nor shied away from embracing “liberalism” since I don’t buy the neo-con definition of both terms. I am and always have been a proud liberal.  And maybe I must wait until the terms once again are refurbished to their original meanings, I can wait.  I will wait.  And it’s beginning to happen.

It is also axiomatic that all of us, each and every one of us, harbor racist, prejudicial and bigoted thoughts and views to one degree or another since all of us are products of our culture which, itself, is racist and bigoted but whatever slivers of racism and bigotry I and you may harbor in our hearts and souls, it does not mean that our hearts are black and our souls evil.  It simply means that we still have more work to do. 

See what I mean?  


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