White Supremacist Talking Points: Everyone Is Racist

Opposition poster for the 1866 election. Geary...

Opposition poster for the 1866 election. Geary’s opponent, Hiester Clymer, ran on a white supremacy platform. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STOP! Take a deep breathe. You are probably thinking you want to derail this blog post simply because of the title.  You are really irritated and angry that I use strong language such as white supremacy. So, you want to derail the conversation, and talk about your personal feelings and your personal experiences. Sorry, but just no.  I am not a telepath, I can’t read people’s minds or know their intents, and I never have claimed to do so.  In fact, I dismiss all controversies related to people’s private bigotry (notice no post on Paula Deen; I don’t have time for jokers or talking about racism the way the mainstream wants me to, that’s part of the problem).  If we make these conversations about whether or not a person is INDIVIDUALLY “racist,’ then we derail the conversation and get off track in our dialogue about public policies that negative impact the lives of People of color as well as media outlets that perpetuate relics of centuries old white supremacy regimes.

You may find my antipathy for private racists heinous, even criminal, but I wish not to waste my time doing things the status quo’s way.  Being anti-racist is not JUST about bigotry-shaming celebrities who use problematic language or who have troublesome ideas. Being anti-racist means working towards taking down barriers to racial justice and reconciliation.  So when I talk about “white supremacy,” as I have said time and again, I am referring to a system, institutions, practices, and media, and not ALL WHITE PEOPLE OF ALL TIME.  PoC can and are implicit in systemic racism.

In this vein, I would like to briefly address a white supremacist talking point I get tired of hearing: “Everyone is racist.” There are several problems with the narrative being told here. First, for the “IS” part of this false truism, racism is once again placed as an individual problem to be solved by dealing with the issues of “the heart” rather than a social construct that is exerted in public practices. One of the best ways to silence anti-racists is to make sure they can’t discuss public policy and social practices.  Secondly, the “everyone” in “everyone is racist” is basically a secular nod to the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity.  From a Christian perspective, indeed, everyone is broken but no where does Christian tradition say or Scripture for that matter, that human beings are stripped of their capacity to love.  In fact, the words and actions of Jesus, his calls to repent and follow him, show God’s faith in humanity to respond to God’s call to love enemies, family and friends alike. Likewise, I believe in racial justice because I believe in God’s grace, first and foremost.  I believe in anti-racism because I believe that everyone, white, black, brown, yellow, red, etc., can be loving and whole persons.  I simply do not separate God’s grace from God’s justice because God has already reconciled humanity at the cross, we just need to live into that reality, and anything that opposes that reality must be dismantled. Yes, this means that just as God in Jesus trusts humanity, I follow Christ’s lead and believe that ALL people can be delivered racist belief systems and practices.  Unlike the late Derrick Bell, who wrote (a must read by the way) Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism, I don’t affirm racism’s “permanence.”  The talking point that “Everyone is racist” places white supremacy as part of the natural order of things.  Jesus, however, disrupts our “natural” orders for the sake of God’s new order, the New Creation.

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4 thoughts on “White Supremacist Talking Points: Everyone Is Racist

  1. What I am reading from and heartily agree with you on is the minimization of racism. That minimization is a deliberate attempt to quell the need and urgency to change.

    I am speaking from the White perspective in saying that the only words we want to hear are those that either make us feel good about ourselves or at least do not make us feel afraid or ashamed. Recognizing the need to change implies something negative which goes against what we want to hear. Plus, since we are doing better in general, we want to take full personal credit for our accomplishments because of how good it makes us feel. Feeling good is also why we like to immerse ourselves in entertainment which we can afford to do because of our privilege.

    So understand why if White people were to fully face how our privileged position in European and American societies allowed us to commit horrible atrocities against all people of color, both in and out of America, we could no longer brush aside the resulting dissonance. And that is what we are afraid of.

  2. Here here! Amen.

    If only people knew how much their mental and spiritual health was tied directly to their capacity to love and to expand the reach of that love. Millions of Americans who “have it all” financially or materially speaking are on anxiety and depression meds due to lack being given love and being entrenched by fear and suspicion and in turn incapable of giving love…indiscriminately. Lack of being able to form meaningful bonds and connections with their neighbors because they are too busy allowing their sinful prejudices keep them in fear and suspicion. LOVE is freedom. HATE is bondage.

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