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The Low Cost of Being Racist

Hotel owner tells Hispanic workers to change names. You know, you’d think that at some point in this series of increasingly bad decisions it would have occurred to him that he was creating a public relations nightmare, if nothing else. But I guess this is one of those times where bigotry trumped any semblance of critical thinking skills. And it’s easy to say that being a bigot is a state of mind devoid of logic in the first place, but it’s more complex than that. I’m certain that this man (and all the people like him) are convinced that their behavior isn’t based in racism or is even problematic. They really believe that they are in the right and it’s other people who lack logic. And it’s not until there are real consequences that they begin to consider the possibility that maybe, possibly, perhaps their thought process is flawed. But that’s an uncomfortable thought pattern and not necessarily one they follow for long so real change is rare. Why? Because sooner or later other people who know them (or who just agree with them) start saying things like “So and so is a good man. He’s not a racist.” or “They are just a product of their times. You have to understand.” or even (and this one is my favorite) “That’s not real racism. Real racism is…” because some folks think that it takes a burning cross, rope, and a tree before it’s real racism.

Racism doesn’t work that way of course, but it might as well when you consider that other than the initial public censure someone like this hotel owner faces, there’s not much in the way of consequences for most racist behavior. And no, I’m not advocating time in the stocks or whatever horrible physical punishment someone wants to liken to being held accountable. All I’m saying is stop giving out those excuses and justifications and free passes because it’s not racist enough for whatever standard would make it difficult to look a POC in the eye while retaining a relationship with the person whose bad behavior you’re excusing. I won’t even get into whether or not someone should boycott businesses/books/other goods and services based on individual bigoted actions. That’s a personal decision. I just want the minimum cost for engaging in racist actions to be acknowledgment that the action is racist. Yes, there is no way to peek inside someone’s heart and know for sure that their motivation was conscious racism, but it’s not about the intent, it’s about the impact. So, regardless of what you know about your friend, relative, significant other, favorite comedian, other unnamed person connected to your life in some way…stop making excuses for their bad behavior. Personal accountability isn’t toxic even when it’s being taken for toxic behavior.

9 thoughts on “The Low Cost of Being Racist”

  1. Momsomniac says:

    Wow…just wow. His behavior shows enormous ignorance of the history of the Southwest too.

  2. says:

    Wow. That much fail is painful.

    When I clicked on this link, I thought it was going to be about how being racist doesn’t kill businesses the way extreme libertarians suggest it might when they’re raging against “intrusive” anti-discrimination laws. Which is also bullshit I’d like to see more about.

  3. rys says:

    karynthia, right on !! i’m a white guy with an unrepentently racist father, and everything you described operates in his mind, and the minds of those who support him. sometimes, being around him, i wonder whether he (or i) came from another planet. he’s 82 and so deeply entrenched in his beliefs that calling him out, whether gently or confrontationally, isn’t likely to change much. but it’s still important to do. thank you for being a voice of no-nonsense reason. racism is one of the key issues i bring up in my own blog, even knowing i still have much yet to learn. ongoing, respectful, honest dialog is critical.

  4. Rosa says:

    This happened in my home state, in a city I visit often. The article at the link doesn’t even begin to cover the extent of this man’s unapologetically racist behavior. At one point, he even began crying “reverse racism,” when told that his actions were inappropriate. Of course he saw himself as the victim.

    Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all day, every day in New Mexico.

  5. Francis L. Holland says:

    I linked to your blog post and wrote an essay about it (which I was too tired to spellcheck when I finished at 3:00AM), but which discusses your post from a legal perspective, making reference to the state law in New Mexico under which complaints can be filed (and must be filed before proceeding to a federal court).

    Atty. Francis L. Holland (not practicing)

  6. Lady Cracker says:

    “–minimum cost for engaging in racist actions to be acknowledgment that the action is racist.”

    It is a minimum and when I think about it labeling the action racist may be just enough, because it surely makes people squirm and bob and weave; saying oh I’m not racist; that is not racist, that is reverse discrimination!

    Until and unless, the dominant culture in almost all countries of the world change, the holders of that dominance will remain clueless as to what their real prejudices and stupidities are. It takes a long and heavy dose of seeing from the other side to even begin to understand.

    Gablea said that ABW had a much different level of commentary.

    1. francislholland says:

      I think white people would squirm considerably more if we continually point out that the use of the word “race” is itself “racist”, and if we insist that racism is not an merely an ugly attitude, but that when it causes significant impairment in one or more areas of life (e.g. getting fired for a color-aroused e-mail sent to co-workers), then color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior constitutes a severe mental illness.

      If you think people squirm when you call them “racist”, just point out to them how “racism” is impairing them in one or more areas of life and therefore constitutes a MENTAL ILLNESS for which they need IMMEDIATE TREATMENT.

      This has the benefit of being doctrinally true, and, moreover, new rhetoric makes news better than old and tired rhetoric.

      Just compelling white people to learn what color-aroused illness is will compel them to look upon this matter with fresh eyes and a fresh intellectual engagement.

  7. francislholland says:

    The use of the word “race” is “racist” because the Human Genome product has found, based on analysis of human DNA and the entire human genome, that “race” does not exist and it never did.

    So why are whites constantly talking about Black’s “racial characteristics”?

  8. francislholland says:

    That is, the Human Genome Project of the US Federal Government has announced that, as a matter of biology and genetics, “race” simply does not exist and it never did.

    Many people like to see whites squirm by calling them “racist”, but this is a double edged sword that cuts us twenty times each day for each time it cuts white people. When we call whites “racist”, we concede that “race” exists, and the existence of “race” is the fundamental premise of their belief in their own superiority.

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