Racial or Racist? (EP.49)



Racism. Racial. Let’s understand and get comfortable with the vital differences between these two useful terms. Importantly, if something is simply racial, let’s not brand it racist.

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“We Must All Hang Together…”


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Racial or Racist. Let’s understand and get comfortable with the vital differences between these two useful terms. Importantly, if something is simply racial, let’s not brand it racist. Racism–both vocal and physical–is ignorant at best, often ugly, and can be criminal. Racial can be very useful; for example, if you know a criminal suspect is white, then you can eliminate all minorities from the search. This will make for a much better use of always limited resources. Let’s take a look at some statements, facts, people and organizations and decide if we think they are racial or racist–or neither:

  • Averaging the 2008 and 2012 elections, 94% of blacks voted for Obama; 6% voted for his opponents, McCain and Romney.
  • Averaging the 2008 and 2012 elections, 57% of whites voted for the Republican.
  • Congressional Black Caucus.
  • One in 12 blacks have sickle cell anemia; it is rare amongst whites.
  • Seventy-five percent of NBA players are black.
  • Two percent of NBA owners are black.
  • Black men with wealth and/or fame, often prefer lighter-skinned women.
  • The KKK.
  • Affirmative Action
  • Nation of Islam
  • Trump
  • Louis Farrakhan
  • Skinheads
  • Keith Ellison
  • School vouchers–for
  • School vouchers–against
  • The Movie, “White Men Can’t Jump”
  • Five percent of the black population is in jail or prison; one percent of the white population is incarcerated.
  • Seventy-two percent of black births are out of wedlock; twenty-five percent of white births are.
  • Churches

Some of these are wonderfully easy to classify. For example, the KKK is racist–and hateful; the statistics about sickle cell anemia are racial–and helpful. The Nation of Islam is racist, as are skinheads. I would maintain that the stats on incarceration and out of wedlock births are racial–and should be helpful. But too many people are ready to label anyone, well-intentioned and wanting to improve things or not, who merely cite these stats as being racist.

Hurling the “racist” accusation is all-too common. As a result, too many people become intimidated and take a hands off approach in areas where they might have done some real good. It is much easier to accuse others than it is to do your homework on the facts, come up with non agenda-based logic, and make an actual argument. Accusing and character assassination is much easier. And does major and lasting damage. I posit that it is borderline evil to take racial statistics, which in the right hands could lead to positive change, and drive away the good people and the good they might do away by accusing them of being racists. A cheap copout, and a destructive one at that.

Okay, Will, why did you include churches? The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Is this at least partly self-segregation? If yes, is self-segregation an example of racism? Or simply personal preference?

If you are on the fence about any of the above or the many similar questions (my list is hardly exhaustive), try this test: Switch the statement around. For example, if 94% of whites had voted for McCain and Romney, while 6% voted for Obama, would that have been racist?

Some people, including many in the public eye, make the claim that blacks cannot be racist, no matter what they do or say. This comes from a misreading, intentional or not, of Dr. King. His quote was, “Racism equals prejudice plus power.” The claim is that since blacks have no power, they cannot be racist. This claim is simply not true. Let’s talk about it. It is possible for a hermit with no contact at all with the outside world to have raging racist thoughts; he’d be a racist, but it won’t matter at all, save to tear that person up on the inside. If an ordinary Joe, black or white, is sitting in a bar spouting racist thoughts, it does matter. “Barroom Joe” at a minimum can stir up trouble, and at worst can convince some people in his sphere of influence that he is right. With the exception of our fictional hermit, we all have spheres of influence, therefore we all have power. We have varying amounts of power, but we all have power. Some can do more good with their larger spheres of influence, some can do more damage with theirs. And with our power, the power that each one of us has, we can all be angels or devils, harmers or helpers, racists or healers.

The point here is not to find a way to agree in each instance, but to understand there is a difference between racist and racial, knowing that one is always bad, and the other is often good–or at least neutral. And to examine the issues–and our own internal preconceived notions–in each case before we take a stand.

Now, let’s apply the two Revolution 2.0 main tenets to today’s podcast. The two main tenets that we believe at Revolution 2.0 are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

This application is easy:

  1. Don’t ever be racist–ever. And, importantly, don’t accuse anyone of being racist unless you are absolutely certain they are, and that your accusation would produce something positive. And never, ever accuse anyone of anything foul simply to pursue an agenda. The ends do not justify the means.
  2. Be your Brother’s Keeper by encouraging others to see the vital differences we have been talking about. Remember, we are all in this together.

Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Revolution 2.0, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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3 Responses

  1. Charles Cabral Reply

    Oh yes! A complex and multilayered issue. You are right. Merely stating some statistical difference between the races does not constitute racism. If one is making those statements merely to justify some bias, then that is racist. Any statistical statement should only be a lead-in to determining the underlying cause(s) of the difference. It could be that members of the underprivileged group would have to give up something dear to them in order to rectify the discrepancy, and maybe many of them would choose not to. But those who choose not to change should not then be racist by labeling those who do as “oreos” or “bananas”. On the other hand, it could be that there is an external bias that is causing the discrepancy, and political solutions might be the answer. I’m doubtful of that, however, as the law of unintended consequences will usually result in other, racially imbalanced problems. Bottom line: What you say is far less important than what is in your heart when you say it.

    I am still perplexed about the Obama issue. Why is a man whose mother was white, who was raised primarily by his white grandparents in Hawaii, who attended a private school, whose ancestors did not include any American slaves, identified by himself and the general public as “black”? I suspect that the voting statistics you cited included far more “blacks” who voted for him on the basis of race than “whites” who voted against him for that reason.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Charlie, for centuries, Americans called–and treated–anyone who was partly black as black. Discrimination was not proportional. I give ground in calling Obama black even with a non-black Mother. Yes? No? Cheers,

  2. Terry Tracy Reply

    Statistics don’t lie but liars use statistics. We have all heard the quote, no arguing here, but I see another issue with statistics popping up. Perspective. Two people, walking in opposite directions, meet at a symbol on the ground. One sees a six, the other a nine. What is the difference. Perspective. Or more accurately, perspective without qualification. Once a line is drawn under one side or the other both know what the symbol really represents. False statistics are easy to spot and debunk. This using of actual numbers to mislead someone is not as easy to overcome. Five percent of today’s black youth is in prison. On the surface people see this as racist. But when you add other key statistics like they commit 37% of violent crimes and 52% of all murders in the US you see a different picture. (and if that is addressed we can begin to help the black community) I see this in the many of the issues we face today. A woman’s right to choose is a good example. How do we qualify today’s issues so people see the truth? Or in simpler terms, how do we cut thru the B.S. and get to the real problem? This is one of the many reasons I like this site, getting to the root cause and treating it not the symptoms.

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