Yesterday, I wrote about how we should not listen to white people when they say it’s not about racism, because they’re not the “experts” who really experience it.
However, we should also beware of going too far in the other direction: sometimes it really is not about racism.
I have often had discussions like this with my clients:
“That cop is a racist!”
“Why do you say that?”
“He treated me terribly and gave me no respect!”
“I know this particular cop very well. Trust me, he treats everyone like that.”
Sometimes people are a jerk to you not because of your race, but because they’re jerks. Or maybe it’s because of your dress or attitude. A white guy dressed as a thug and acting like a gang member also doesn’t get a ton of respect.
But there really is racism. Obama talked about how, when he was a Constitutional Law Professor dressed in a suit, he still couldn’t get a taxi. Black business leaders find themselves being followed in stores despite looking like professional CEOs in all respects. The fact that blacks get arrested for drug offenses in bigger numbers than whites despite drug use among whites and blacks being pretty equal is another good sign. There are plenty of other examples.
All I’m saying is: Racism absolutely exists and it is something people deal with every day. Just don’t automatically assume every time you’re treated bad it’s because of racism. I have friends who hate Obama but it’s not because they’re racist. They hated Clinton too. They hate all liberal politicians. If Obama was 100% white, they’d still hate him.
For that matter, I can’t stand Al Sharpton, Clarence Thomas, and Herman Cain, but not because of their race. (And if you think I supported Obama because of his race, well, you might want to ask if you are the racist, unable to see anything but a candidate’s race to determine why anyone would vote for him.)
However, if your main criticism of Obama is that he’s a Kenyan Muslim who doesn’t look like a “real American” — well, I think that’s a pretty good sign it isn’t just his politics that have you angry. And if your protest includes a Confederate flag, you might as well stop pretending.