Racism is stupid. However it is real and it is insidious. It has never gone away but it was downplayed for a while. We thought maybe we had overcome a lot of it, but, as current affairs illustrate, we definitely haven’t come as far as many of us thought.
Let’s talk about racists. There are a lot of them. The easiest racists are the openly racist racists that know they’re racist. For a long time they were mostly underground, but lately have been emboldened to speak openly about their racism. They perpetuate hatred and stereotypes and are potentially dangerous in that they often also feel their racism justifies violence. The obvious racists are bad and still are probably a minority.
The more difficult group of racists are the unknowing racists. This is a potentially much larger group and can still be divided into two sub groups. The unknowing racists that don’t care and the ones that do. The ones that don’t know and don’t care are going to be extremely defensive about being called racists. They will swear up and down that they aren’t racists. They claim only to be sharing “facts” which are thinly veiled stereotypes or propaganda from biased sources. This group of racists will largely try to gaslight you, call you a libtard, blame Hilary, and deflect a lot of the criticism. They are also quick to pull out their black friends for proof of non-racism. Again these racists will often stop short of overt racism but are quick to respond with “all lives matter” and “what about black on black violence?” to discussions of race.
The other subset of unknowing racists are, at first glance, indistinguishable from other racists, but the difference when you drill deeper is one of ignorance, not of malice. A lot of people repeat racist shit just because they do not know any better. It sounded funny or they did not really know how offensive their statements were. Even in this day and age it happens. But once confronted with the truth they capitulate. These people can turn around. It is our job to educate these people and help them understand. This is the maybe the best place to start.
Beyond the people, the “bad apples,” the bigger problem is institutions. We need to first acknowledge that their is an underlying problem in institutions that works on many levels. We have actual laws and rules that are stacked against black people, we can change those. However, the bigger problem is the “bro-code.” The code amongst those in power that group together and have unwritten codes of conduct that govern rules of engagement with black people. These rules also govern how they follow orders and turn their head to abuses of power and it is all protected with a code of silence where they do not rat on each other. Even the good apples when they join these groups can be pressured to go along with things that would otherwise be unconscionable. We have seen it before throughout history. The refrain of “I was just following orders,” will be heard over and over again as the recent abuses come to light and those responsible are held accountable for their actions.
The social pressure helps explain but does not excuse the bad behavior. But it can help us understand how people that we know to be good people can get caught up doing bad things. What the bad actors want to do is appease us by sacrificing a few bad apples, but that won’t change the system and we will be back where we started. We must figure out how to dismantle the insidious brotherhood. This is so hard because it is under the surface and lurks in the shadows. There will always be like-minded individuals that will abuse the power of the state to subjugate others. We must resist. We must oversee those in power because we now see how corrupt it has begun while we have relaxed.