How to shake the race haters off

youre the racistSeveral people sent this article to me – How Race-Studies Scholars Can Respond to Their Haters.” I didn’t even get five paragraphs in before I hollered “YASSS LORD!”, got stiff and fell in the floor (oddly, no urshers rushed over with a modesty cloth which means I need better truly saved people).

Writes Stacey Patton, senior enterprise reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Nearly every race-studies scholar—white professors included—can identify a phrase that drives them uniquely nuts.

I’m not a scholar, but after nearly 11 years of writing occasionally about race for the daily newspaper where I live, I know a thing or two about such things. ,Journalist/scholar Kirsten West Savali expounded on the phrase that makes my butt itch the most virulently:  “You’re the real racist!” If I had a dime for every email I’ve gotten with that juvenile accusation, I’d have at least $100.

Here’s one from a female reader:

Do you ever see any action of any type and not believe racism is involved?  I believe you are one of the most racist people in existence and wish to create ongoing division, or perhaps I should say to create division where is no revision.

My reply:

I do words for a living. So if I don’t use the word racist or racism, it’s because I don’t believe the occasion calls for it.

Our collective vocabulary for talking about race is horribly stunted. I think your email is testament to that. What I wrote made you feel… something. The topic touched on race. So racial topic + uncomfortable feelings = racism?

Racism should be reserved for truly egregious examples of power plus prejudice in a way that negatively impacts people’s lives. The KKK was racist. The men who bombed the Birmingham church where four little girls were killed 50 years ago yesterday were racist. Predatory lending targeted at minority communities, disproportionate criminal sentencing, neighborhood redlining – all of those are racist policies.

I disagree with your assessment of my work and person, but more appropriate words to express your frustration might have been: biased, foolish, uninformed, silly, dismissive, etc.

Racism/racist are conversation-ending words. Is that what you intended?

The reader, not surprisingly, never replied.


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