What do we really do with this word? How to we engage racial issues without calling someone a racist? The Root recently had an interesting article on the usage of the word and the dislike of the word by White Americans.
Interestingly enough thinking about” Racist” makes me think about driving a car . . .
You know the scenario. It is rush hour. You are driving a long and someone cuts over two lanes and cuts you off. You have to press hard on your breaks and take evasive action in order to spare your car from the ramifications of an incautious driver. As the car take over the lane in front of you, all you want to do is honk your horn and yell “You Idiot”(some of you not only want to do this, you go through with it).
Many times we don’t consider of words. What that person really an idiot? Or did they do something idiotic? Is it justifiable to claim that that one action automatically places them in league with those that make consistent bad life decisions? What if their decision to cut across lanes was because they had a bad day at work? Or because they needed to get over to the off ramp and that was the one opportunity they had to get off at their exit, otherwise their trip would be increased by another 30 minutes of backtracking? What if . . .? You get the point
The same thoughts can be attributed to the word racist. If someone says “you people”, prefers to hang out with those that are more like them, or even says a racial slur does that make them a racist? Or have they done something racist? Have they had a bad day and allowed societies glamorization of racial slurs (even in satire) impact what comes out through their mouths? Are they really thinking about what they are saying? It is a question of character vs. isolated action.
I believe we do a great disservice to those of all races when we label people struggling with diversity, race issue etc as racist. Instead of allowing people to be imperfect, we expect a world where everyone is politically correct and thus allow no room for individuals and society to grow. Racial slurs and racist actions are never appropriate, but if we continue to demonize those who are coming into an understanding of race and racial etiquette, rather than cultivate growth, we are going to harvest citizens that are confused, frustrated and downright indifferent toward racial reconciliation.