Friday, March 08, 2013

"Just don't date black men."

Over at Ta-Nehisi Coates' place, he's written another fine post, expanding (more or less) on the NYTimes editorial he had up the other day, about "good" people and racism.

(Here's the link to that column in case you missed it.)

In the post, Coates explains further what he discusses in the column, which is the way good people -- people who see themselves as good, people who we have been accustomed to seeing as good, will do racist things, or act in racist ways, while claiming they aren't doing or acting racist at all.  He mentions a Louisiana judge, a case I recall, who refused to marry an interracial couple, saying, "I'm not racist.  I just don't believe in mixing the races that way."

Over at LG&M, a discussion of this column exploded when one gentleman claimed racial profiling wasn't racist, since (obviously) "people" tended to expect black people to be more likely to be criminals.

And today, as I was walking down the hall in my own building at the university, I heard a  (white) student excoriating another (white) student, "Well, we warned you!  Didn't we say just don't date black men?  But you wouldn't listen!"

She wasn't joking, either.  It wasn't a teasing thing -- she meant it.  This gave me flashbacks to a student who wrote me an argumentative essay, a couple years ago, arguing against white people dating black people.  When I gently pointed out that "could be perceived" as racist, she argued with me, quite earnestly.  That wasn't racist.  It was just what she believed.

I guess the reasoning process goes like this:

(1) I believe this.
(2) I'm not racist (which I know because I'm a good person and only bad people are racist)
(3) Therefore this thing I believe can't be racist


dorki said...

The perception of racism:
"None are so blind as those who will not see."

delagar said...

I think that's it, yes.

Over on Rod Dreher's blog (if you know him) he read the same posts by Coates that I'm talking about, and came to, essentially, the exact opposite conclusions. Basically he (and about half of his readers) believe Coates is seeing racism where none exists.

Dreher cites that horrible White Philly article that came out a few days ago as a counterweight -- as a good, honest, clear-eyed discussion of race.