Dr. Laura’s n-word rant has had some positive effects: It got me thinking about racism again. In particular, her apology — and her radio guest questioning the apology — made me wonder why people are so quick to deny racism.
This video explores the question of denial. Mind you, I think most people are sincere in their denials — they truly believe that they have given no cause for offense. But racism is not so much about offense as it is about power. And when you are unaware of your own power and the affect that it has on others… well, that’s a blind spot called white privilege.
I have two recommendations for removing that blind spot:
- Pray. Give God permission to show you your own heart.
- Read Black Like Me. Get it from your library, or order it from Amazon.
Related posts: Dear Dr. Laura: Why you can’t use the n-word
I’ve transcribed this video for people who prefer to read.
“Are You a Racist?” transcript
“Are you a racist?” …See, as soon as I ask, “Are you a racist?” I can pretty much guarantee what your answer is. It’s, “No, no, of course not,” because, you know, a racist is one of these [Ku Klux Klansmen]. And if you take that down the road all the way, then a racist is one of these [Adolf Hitler], and I’m definitely not that [Hitler] or that [KKK]. “So, I’m not a racist.”
Now, there’s a funny word in that question, “Are you a racist?” and it’s the smallest word, “a”. Are you a racist? Let’s remove that and see what happens. Are you… racist? Now it’s an adjective, not a noun. How about, “Do you carry any racism in you?”
This is blog one another where we rethink faith and rethink culture. And by rethink culture, I mean we look at ourselves, specifically, opening ourselves up to the Spirit of God to work in us and through us.
Now if you’re watching this video, you’re almost certainly a person of privilege, and what I mean is somebody who’s had a good education, is pretty well off, you have a computer or some other gadget that you’re watching this on, and you’ve had a pretty good life, and blah blah blah. And chances are pretty good you’re either white, or half-white like I am. White privilege. Eww, that’s a nasty word. What does that mean? It means that we have, we carry power, but we’re not aware of it. White privilege is a blind spot, a huge blind spot where you are unaware of the power that you wield, and how that feels to people who do not have that power, who do not share those same privileges.
A year ago, Sonia Sotomayor was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, and there was a lot of press about her quote,
I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.
And whoa, this got white males upset. [Photo of Rush Limbaugh] “Racist! She’s a racist!”
Usually, the quote is chopped off. What she said was that
I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
What is that life? Well, white male, you and I have no idea. We don’t know. We have this thing called white privilege.
Black Like Me
So while Sonia Sotomayor was being nominated for the Supreme Court, my son’s summer reading just happened to be a book called Black Like Me. I remember hearing about this book when I was a kid, about a writer who makes himself black to see what life is like. So, I read the book. It’s a short book. It was gripping. My gosh, pick up a copy. Get it from the library, buy yourself a copy from Amazon, from the link I have, but read it. It will open your eyes, and then maybe, you can understand how someone can say that a Latina woman would see things differently, and maybe reach some different conclusions about power and privilege than a white male.
Actions to Take
So what do we do?
- If you’re brave, I invite you to open your heart up to God, and say, “Spirit of God, search me, and show me what’s inside. And then help me.”
- Get Black Like Me — I really highly recommend it — and read it.
And please share your comments below, your reactions to the question: Not, “Are you a racist,” but, “Have you discovered racism inside of you?” …Maybe that’s a better question.