“Hidden Colors” — a documentary series about the cultural history of African Americans, identity and race in America — recently released the trailer for it’s third installment, “The Rules Of Racism.” And it looks good. The project features various speakers from scholars to entertainment vets like Nas, KRS-ONE, and Paul Mooney who begs the question: ‘whites have always done whatever they wanted to black people, so what are the rules?'”
How is that question not, in and of itself, racist?
“[W]hites have always done whatever they wanted to black people, so what are the rules?”
Whites or White People is a subject that apparently enthralls some Black people. The obvious answer to your question: THERE ARE NO RULES!
You aren’t dealing with “Whites” or “White people” because “Whites” do not all hate Black people as a group or even care about race. There are millions of “Whites” out there who really don’t care that you are Black or “not White.” The assumption that Black people are dealing with “Whites” when they are confronted with racism IS RACIST. The Black person wo makes this assumption is assuming that all White people act as one group. This person assumes that all “Whites” are racist when approaching the subject of racism from that erroneous angle. This is inherently racist. For what is racism?
Racism is actions, practices or beliefs, or social or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently. While most conceptualizations of racism include the notion of “race based discrimination”, the exact definition is controversial both because there is little scholarly agreement about the meaning of the concept “race”, and because there is also little agreement about what does and does not constitute discrimination.
Some definitions consider that any assumption that a person’s behavior would be influenced by their racial categorization is inherently racist, regardless of whether the action is intentionally harmful or pejorative, because stereotyping necessarily subordinates individual identity to group identity. In sociology and psychology, many definitions only include consciously malignant forms of discrimination.
However one view distinguishes prejudice from racism, holding that racism is best understood as ‘prejudice plus power’ because without the support of political or economic power, prejudice would not be able to manifest as a pervasive cultural, institutional or social phenomenon.  Among the questions about how to define racism are the question of whether to include forms of discrimination that are unintentional, such as making assumptions about preferences or abilities of others based on racial stereotypes, whether to include symbolic or institutionalized forms of discrimination such as the circulation of ethnic stereotypes through the media, and whether to include the socio-political dynamics of social stratification that sometimes have a racial component. Some definitions of racism also include discriminatory behaviors and beliefs based on cultural, national, ethnic, caste, or religious stereotypes. Some critics of the term argue that the term is applied differentially, with a focus on such prejudices by whites, and in ways that define mere observations of any possible differences between races as racism.
I’ll lay it out for those who need the obvious explained to them. Racists are individuals. There are no group rules when dealing with individuals. Each individual must be approached as such. White people are simply a group of folks who have been arbitrarily grouped together based upon the superficial characteristic of their skin color. White people do not have power over Black people. Individual White persons may have the power to shape public or group action in such a way as to negatively affect Black people. However, Black people such as Oprah Winfrey, Condoleeza Rice and Barack Obama also exist and have these same powers of influence.
Want to know what automatically turns me off to the subject of racism. It is the exact moment when an ignorant bigot such as Paul Mooney or Al Sharpton, who are obviously racist themselves, begin to talk about “White people” as if we all have the exact same opinions and as if we all act in concert against all Black people.
Racism in America began as an act of asserting power or authority over a minority group. Racism and it’s partner bigotry has affected every immigrant group which has traveled to America. That includes Germans, Jews, Italians, Polish, Chinese, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Cubans and continues with today’s bigotry directed against Latin American groups and all Muslim groups. Black people are not alone in having been victims of racism and bigotry.
Another complete misnomer is the idea that racism is unique to America. Racism and Bigotry exist the world over. Where there are differences in human groups and those groups are vying for power, there is racism and bigotry. This includes Africa. Africa is a hotbed of racism and bigotry based on everything from tribal affiliation to religion, ethnicity and nose length.
A major issue with the racial conversation in America is that it is rife with ignorance and myth. I’ll close with this bit of advice to folks like Paul Mooney: WHITES are not racist. WHITES have not always done what they want with Black people. If you want an honest conversation, do not begin with the premise that ALL WHITES are racist. It is an accusation. It is designed to alienate. It does alienate.
If you want to have an honest and civil discourse about racism in America, it cannot begin with bigoted assumptions. As soon as you start accusing ALL WHITES of being in control or being racists or bigots or even White, you have become yourself racist and bigoted.
Bigotry and racism will not solve racism and bigotry. Hate will not lead to understanding.
I grew up with Black people. I have always lived, worked, played and partied with Black people. The only time that I think of them as Black people is when some hateful person such as Paul Mooney opens his mouth to remind me that I’m White and they’re Black. The rest of the time, I think of them as Tyrone, Grover, Will, Frank, Tony, Mark, Rodney, JJ, George, McKinley, Greg, Katrina, She’Keena and Dorian.
I am fortunate to have traveled the world and to have befriended persons from all over this magnificent globe. I am fortunate to have been able to have bridged the divides that only a person such as Paul Mooney could possibly create for me. I am fortunate to have lived a life within which the only racial barriers which I have encountered were created from without. The only way to end racism is to erase race as a possibility. It is to see each individual based upon their individual merits and to be blind to superficialities such as skin color, nose width/length and hair texture. If we wish not to be judged based upon the color of our skin, we cannot achieve this by judging all others based upon the color of their skin. It is character, not color or toe length, that matters.