Embracing racism

My name's Jason and I'm a racist.

Yep, I'm a racist and you probably are too.

The first step in my path toward embracing racism was at university when I read a piece about how people say "I'm not racist but..." right before they make a racist statement. The article put forward an argument that this created an agreed context to be racist because it basically pushed the idea that the real racists were probably Nazis rather than everyday people like you and me.

A year or two later I dated a Nigerian woman and was shocked by the racial comments she'd make. The generalisations I heard about black men and white women were confronting to me. It lead me to say something like "I'm not racist and I'm not sure I can listen to you making these racist comments" before realising that it was easy for me to deny being racist because I don't have to confront racism.

Being a white male in a white patriarchal society is a very privileged position to be in. I rarely encounter racism because mostly I encounter people are also white. If anyone doesn't look me in the eye or gives me attitude, then I'll figure either they're having a bad day or that I am. I don't have to wonder if they're racist because I have a different shade of skin colour than they do.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a bit on this subject in his book Blink, which is a great read. He found himself surprised at the racist responses he discovered in himself given he had a Jamaican grandparent. In that book he wonders if these responses might explain the high percentage of African-American men in US prisons, given that most sentencing judges are white.

So I've decided to call myself a racist because we should be aware of our biases and try to counterbalance them. I also think the notion of human races is silly given the very small amount of genetic variation there is between us.