An Examination of Denials and Prejudiced Rationales

So tell me again, what type of racist are you? I feel it is my duty to ask; it would be remiss, no ironic, for me to group you as an individual with all the rest. So tell me, because I don’t want to incorrectly label you as a person with acetic assumptions and intellectual laziness, even though I heard you spin the narrative of enlightenment. I thought I heard you argue how colonial powers brought civilisation to savages, Christianity to heathens, and, oh yes, there was one more thing. What was that? Yes, it was high culture and technological advances to those stuck in the dark. I mean, these are just facts, not internalised beliefs and opinions, so how can that make you racist? So tell me, what type of racist are you? I feel it is my duty to ask. I remember how you once told me you don’t see colour and asked why we can’t put all that stuff behind us and get along. When I questioned you about advantages and privileges, I remember you denied their existence and told me about laws and policies that make institutional and systemic racism a thing of the past. You told me the racists are the ones that bait others on account of our differences. You told me oppression, dominance, and power are things you have never witnessed and experienced. You told me how, these days, too many people are culturally sensitive with no sense of integration and respect for the country that accommodates them. You told me you are not racist and are only expressing an opinion that many people have and are too afraid to share. So tell me, what type of racist are you? I feel it is my duty to ask. I need to subdivide and put you in the correct box and category to assess your contribution and worth. Because, after all, not all racists are equal, and it would be wrong of me to think you are.

In this imagined recounting of a conversation, I wanted to examine the perceived pushback in calling someone out for acting out and perpetuating racist tendencies.

In some quarters, the notion of being called a racist is seen as more egregious than the act itself. Speed of denial over accountability is always a good indicator. While some people may wear the label with pride, others rightfully recognise a fall from grace that carries a multitude of guilt and shame.

I also wanted to explore the conflation between bias, prejudice and racism and highlight that perhaps many people do not understand the difference and, as such, continue with denials, false enlightenment, and superiority arguments to diminish the impact of their prejudicial perspectives.

Can and should the denials be separated from complicity in racist power dynamics? 

Racism is a form of oppression that takes into account and enacts on who is and isn’t positioned to hold power. — 4 Types of Racism 

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