Race Card Redux

Apropos of my post the other day, Tim Wise also has some thoughts on the “Race Card”.

Recently, I was asked by someone in the audience of one of my speeches, whether or not I believed that racism–though certainly a problem–might also be something conjured up by people of color in situations where the charge was inappropriate. In other words, did I believe that occasionally folks play the so-called race card, as a ploy to gain sympathy or detract from their own shortcomings?

If I had a dime for every time…

Although the matter is open to debate in any or all of these cases, white folks have been quick to accuse blacks who answer in the affirmative of playing the race card, as if their conclusions have been reached not because of careful consideration of the facts as they see them, but rather, because of some irrational (even borderline paranoid) tendency to see racism everywhere.

I also see the sky every morning, so I must be an alarmist.

Asked about the tendency for people of color to play the “race card,” I responded as I always do: First, by noting that the regularity with which whites respond to charges of racism by calling said charges a ploy, suggests that the race card is, at best, equivalent to the two of diamonds. In other words, it’s not much of a card to play, calling into question why anyone would play it (as if it were really going to get them somewhere). Secondly, I pointed out that white reluctance to acknowledge racism isn’t new, and it isn’t something that manifests only in situations where the racial aspect of an incident is arguable. Fact is, whites have always doubted claims of racism at the time they were being made, no matter how strong the evidence, as will be seen below. Finally, I concluded by suggesting that whatever “card” claims of racism may prove to be for the black and brown, the denial card is far and away the trump, and whites play it regularly: a subject to which we will return.

I couldn’t have put it better. Read the rest of the excellent article, What Kind of Card is Race? The Absurdity (and Consistency) of White Denial, at ZNet. (found via Sex and Race)

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