Readers may want to check out the excellent new blog Racism Review. I was particularly struck by this very nice post by Adia Harvey on the way that many people seem to think the only racists are those who self-identify as racists.
Is being racist now simply subject to the individual’s choice? Are you only racist if you self-identify as such? At what point do your actions define who you are? If stereotyping racial minorities, passively or actively supporting institutions or policies that uphold inequality, and engaging in behaviors that endorse or perpetuate the basest, most negative images of minorities doesn’t make you a racist, what does? Or to paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, what do you have to do to be a racist? Shoot Medgar Evers? I can’t think of too many other areas where self-definition overrides action in the same ways that it does when we think about who is and isn’t racist. For instance, if I register to vote as a Republican, donate money to John McCain, agree with his policies, and vote for him in the primary and general election, would anyone believe me if I then insisted that I was a Democrat?