If you use racial slurs and think that black people are animals, then fine. Whatever. The world is moving on and leaving you behind, and the best we can do is make sure that people like you aren’t given enough power to do damage. Unfortunately, sometimes you get guns or bombs and become a terrorist, and then we have to clean up after you. During the clean up though, we tend to forget that even good white people in America are racists.
I’m talking to good white people. You believe that God loves everyone. You strive to judge by the content of one’s character. You would never dream of using a racist slur. Beyond that, you probably don’t think about race at all, until something like Charleston happens, and then you’re shocked at what an individual would do, so shocked you think that surely he must be mentally ill.
(Most mentally ill people don’t go shooting up churches, but that’s a topic for another day).
Good white person, you have a 99.99999% chance of being deeply but subconsciously racist. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. When you see pictures of black teenagers, how old do you think they are? What about white teenagers? What about white men in their 20s? What about black and white children?
2. What do you call a black man when he commits a violent crime? What about a white man who commits a violent crime? Whom do you make excuses for?
3. What is your threshold for “professional looking” on a black person? What about a white person? Are those different thresholds – does the black person need to wear nicer clothes in order to look sufficiently professional?
4. How do you distinguish between a good neighborhood and a bad one? What about a good school verses a bad one?
While you’re thinking, here’s a test developed at Harvard to test implicit racism – i.e. if you have an automatic preference for people of European descent over those of African descent. When I took the test it showed a strong implicit bias towards whites.