How to tell if you're a racist

Posted by Leticia, 20 Jun 07

Last year Paula Zahn did a report called "Skin-Deep: racism in America". In the show there were several interviews with "race experts" and political figures. A test was given that told you if you had the penchant towards a particular race. Well, I found the test on-line and took it. The results surprised me at first, then it made me wonder if... I could be a racist?

Hey this is Leticia. I should first start out by saying that the test doesn't determine whether or not you are a racist definitively...it tells you if you have a strong, moderate or little or no preference for a particular race. In this Harvard study, the two groups tested were blacks and whites.

The test was a series of pictures and words. You have to hit the "e" and the "i" on the keyboard to show that you can first tell the difference between the two races. Then a series of words flash on the screen and you must again hit the right letter to determine where they go. They are words like love, joy, happiness, and evil, nasty and bad. Then you link the good words with either race and likewise with the bad words. In about five minute's time, you learn if you respond faster when European American faces and Good words were linked together or African American faces and Good words. Based on how quickly you choose each picture and words are how your preference is determined.

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My test "suggests a moderate automatic preference for European American compared to African American". Imagine this black girl's surprise. I was so shocked in fact that I had to take the test again, and again. Around test #3, I started to question myself. Do I like white people more?! Well, I guess that would explain why I'm on an interracial dating site. But, that can't be. I love my people. I love our passion, creativity, endurance, strength, courage and...okay, I know I'm starting to sound like an India Arie song. You get the picture. I love me some black people.

Right about now, I'm starting to feel like the little girl in the doll test. I've let down my whole race by picking the wrong side. Jessie, Al and even Condoleezza will be knocking on my door any minute to make me turn in my "black and I'm proud" card. I'm thinking "this would be the perfect time to get someone else to take the test," then, maybe I won't feel so bad. So, I get my best friend to take it. He and I are so much alike in our ideologies, values and goals. Great idea...right?

Wrong. He takes the test and now I feel worse. He ranked in the 2% that actually has a "strong automatic preference for African American compared to European American". As I was about to get all sad about his ability to keep his card, a sad thought came over me. Why is the percentage of strong automatic preference for African American's only 2%?

How many black people have actually taken this test? I know that originally on the television show it was only given to Whites and Asians. What does it mean that "I" have an automatic preference for another race? Was I too a victim to all the societal influences that for generations has told me that black is bad and dirty and white represents good and pure?

My best friend points out that he's not surprised by my "preference". According to him, I've always been nicer to white folks than black. I disagree. However, my own thoughts take me back to less than a week ago I mentioned that there were a lot of new black people all around the complex so it "must be time to move". I'd love to say that I was joking, but I wasn't. I'd love to believe that it's just my preference, just like dating interracially is yours, however, there is a part of me that is really afraid that some of my feelings could be related to that self-hate that we've heard so much about. I don't think that on a conscience level. But, I also didn't think that I'd take a test that would make me start believing that I could be prejudice...against my own race either.

I intentionally use the word prejudice instead of racist, because to quote Michael Eric Dyson, author of "Debating Race", "...racism suggests that you have political power in a society to reinforce your viewpoints as the status quo". Black people, by far, have not had that". Prejudice...we got!

72 responses to "How to tell if you're a racist"

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  1.   jason says:
    Posted: 08 Sep 08

    i do agree with sean lydon in that there is some truth in all stereotyping. albeit a wide brushing stroke of generalization but it is what it is. there are things in everyday life that people as a general rule see as specific race things.

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  2.   Marie-Lou says:
    Posted: 17 May 08

    Admit it People Blacks have more fun, more flavors, more tastes, so much, that is the reason you hear them play loud music, they do everything big, you know when you have too much of something in your blood it will just popped up everywhere that's the reason the white teen-agers kept immitating blacks with loud music and cool spectacular's cars because it simply the best instead of living the boring every day's life, same old, same old, same old hair style per example the white fox always have. And you know I am right!

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  3.   akbar says:
    Posted: 30 Apr 08

    The question of how a black person could have a preference for whites over blacks has an easy answer. In the United States we have been culturally conditioned to prefer whites over blacks.

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  4.   Sharon says:
    Posted: 30 Dec 07

    I had a preference for lighter skinned people. I have always preferred light skin men. Some of our preferenc may not be racial,but class and cultural. Middle class vs low income.

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  5.   cocoadream says:
    Posted: 24 Nov 07

    First I would question the validity of this test. I mean how in the hell can you tell if something is "black/white" in the first place? Makes the test sound like it was created by racists LOL Second, preference does not = racism, never has. I like dark hair better than red, but there are people of all ethnicities with both. Not wanting to date bald men, again, lots in every culture.

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  6. Posted: 22 Oct 07

    Purdy: "I think that the majority of black people prefer whites, because they are our main influence." JL: This has nothing to do with "influecne" BUT with how people are CONDITIONED by the media to either fear one group or to prefer another group. In the context of the fact that "whites get deep tans, add collagen to their lips, and padding to their hips," your comments are absurd. "Prefer whites?!" Puhleeze! John L.

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  7.   stingray3 says:
    Posted: 09 Oct 07

    Oh my God! I cannot believe the comments I read aimed at Sean. It seems black people can say whatever they like about others but when a white person tries to say it, it is wrong. I am black.

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  8.   Purdey says:
    Posted: 12 Aug 07

    Leticia, I'm not surprised by your preference, I could tell from your writing! Don't worry, there are many people like you, they just can't come to terms with it because it's too uncomfortable. At least you can tackle it now that you are aware, if you wish to. I think that the majority of black people prefer whites, because they are our main influence. I see a lot of this in the UK, particularly London, because we are 1% of the population, and most prefer to date other nationalites (they will easily overlook the attitudes of those like Sean, or pander to them, as does his woman). In Europe, we are an endangered species! It's strange, but I don't bat an eyelid when I see an 'interracial' couple, but I can't help staring when I see a black couple, especially if they are young. Weird, isn't it? It's funny that people say the test was too 'narrow'. Why? Because you didn't like the result? Would it have been better if you could have been told that you prefer brown? What would that say about you?

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  9.   Fala says:
    Posted: 03 Aug 07

    Sad to say Legs, but I have to agree with you.

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  10.   starthai says:
    Posted: 31 Jul 07

    Subtle prejudice are overt predudice which is the worst?

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  11.   Legs34 says:
    Posted: 26 Jul 07

    all I can say is wow....not surprised at the comments on here...I don't think we will ever unite.

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  12.   unme23 says:
    Posted: 25 Jul 07

    sounds like somebody made cocos bad list.

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  13.   Fala says:
    Posted: 24 Jul 07

    Of course I do Unme!

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  14.   hiimsteph says:
    Posted: 23 Jul 07

    wow I can see that this article is bringing on a lot of heat in here. the article is very interested and im impressed with everyone's open-ended responses.

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  15.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 22 Jul 07

    You are too sweet Coco!! Kisses to you! lol

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  16.   unme23 says:
    Posted: 21 Jul 07

    u know u love me fala!!!

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  17.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 19 Jul 07

    Mossimo, you guys are always on the good list. We girls just know a fraud when we see one :) We call a spade a spade. Lot more than we can say about someone else here!

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  18.   Fala says:
    Posted: 19 Jul 07

    Unme and Mossimo are good guys??? Damn, we're in trouble! LOL

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  19.   Jade74 says:
    Posted: 19 Jul 07

    Hey UNME & MOSSIMO you are both on the good list.

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  20.   unme23 says:
    Posted: 18 Jul 07

    great comments to read.

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  21.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 18 Jul 07

    Hey UNME, looks like we're on the good list!!

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  22.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 16 Jul 07

    Flamebait!!!

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  23.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 16 Jul 07

    Well done Ladies! Now on to having fun with better people like Mossimo and UNME. Next subject! :)

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  24.   Carmelina17 says:
    Posted: 15 Jul 07

    I agree Coco. Sean needs some attention it seems.

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  25.   Jade74 says:
    Posted: 14 Jul 07

    You are so right Cocokisses.Sean just don't get it.Its called racist.

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  26.   Fala says:
    Posted: 14 Jul 07

    I agree Coco. Best to ignore Sean. He's probably just saying it for the attention. He has no life in the real world, so this way he can honestly say women talk to him and about him.

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  27.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 13 Jul 07

    We should just ignore Sean. He really doesn't get it, and his so-called girlfriend is obviously an idiot. This guy is getting way too much attention for his crazy comments. Remember, if it looks like a racist, walks like a racist, talks like a racist, then it must be a RACIST!

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  28.   Jade74 says:
    Posted: 13 Jul 07

    Very insane and racist Cocokisses.

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  29.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 13 Jul 07

    And all this from someone who claims he wouldn't live next to Blacks because we play loud music...but he would date black women but not live next to them...is it me or does this sound insane?

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  30.   Fala says:
    Posted: 13 Jul 07

    Just call me: following the herd, humourless, illiterate, unintelligent, interfering, holier-than-thou, po-faced, left-wing, politically correct, censorious, boring, and a bullying busybody . . . just don't call me a racist.

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  31.   Sean says:
    Posted: 12 Jul 07

    I don't watch those silly films. But my impression is that what you say is the reverse of the truth and that Holywood is in thrall to political correctness. Depicting terrorists as Arabs? Whence that notion? What a travesty that is!

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  32.   Kara says:
    Posted: 12 Jul 07

    My guy came out preferring the white faces. He said he could tell as he was doing the test that he was showing a preference for the white faces, and he found it depressing. My results showed I preferred the black faces. I had no idea what the outcome would be, and was surprised. I thought I'd have the same results as most other people, living in a predominantly white culture as I do. I'm not sure what to make of this test, but I suspect that it doesn't measure what they are suggesting it does.

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  33.   Jabali says:
    Posted: 11 Jul 07

    I wonder Sean, just for clarity's sake. Hasn't Hollywood ALWAYS been about making jokes of racial stereotypes, black, white or Asian. Whenever I used to watch movies about black guys I used to get irritated that they used to be portrayed as the bad guys, the criminals. It also used to irritate me that Asians always used to be portrayed as sadistic killers, remember those crazy Ninja flicks. It also used to irritate me that white people were the people most likely to be portrayed as evil geniuses. I don't think I've ever seen any flick with a black evil genius. And of course nowadays Arabs are always portrayed as terrorists, and that irritates the hell out of me! So I'm just wondering what's this bull... about not being able to make stereotypes about blacks?

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  34. Posted: 11 Jul 07

    lol @ mossimo, good one.

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  35.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 10 Jul 07

    Wonderful comeback Fala! High Five!

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  36.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 09 Jul 07

    I love to play loud music on my block. Anyone want a black and white cookie?

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  37.   Sean says:
    Posted: 09 Jul 07

    As you say, I'm prejudiced, short sighted and racist. I'm only attracted to slim black women with dark skin. Asian, red-skin, white or mixed women don't even register with me. I can't even talk to white women, other than formally - there's just nothing there for me - whereas I flirt all the time with black ones. Equally I know men who feel nothing for black women. Good for them: Why should I concern myself with another's sexual preferences? My Kenyan girlfriend is more enlightened. She says black men are lazy and sleep around and white women are slags. I sympathise as I'm lazy and sleep around myself. It's kind of you to offer to pray for my child. Her name is India and could you pray that she learns to think for herself rather than following the herd, remaining free from the influence of humourless, illiterate, unintelligent, interfering, holier-than-thou, po-faced, left-wing, politically correct, censorious, boring, bullying busybodies. Thank you sweetie. Lord have mercy.

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  38.   Coco says:
    Posted: 08 Jul 07

    I am convinced that any women of color who date you are seriously misinformed. For the record, I live in an upper middle class neighborhood. There are only 3 blacks, including myself that live here. All of the loud music comes from cars driving through the neighborhood, and guess what? You hear rap music blaring from the cars, only to see a bunch of white kids behind the wheel. Your stereotype is shot to he ll! Just goes to show, you should never judge a book by its cover. In your case, you a man who claims to prefer blacks, yet somehow you are wrapped in racist clothing. Like I said, your woman must be either stupid, or seriously misinformed!

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  39.   Cocokisses says:
    Posted: 08 Jul 07

    Hey Fala and Mossimo...sounds like a lot of fun. We will play our loud music together :)

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  40.   Fala says:
    Posted: 08 Jul 07

    Sean, when Chris Rock makes fun of racial stereotypes - he's speaking from direct experience and using humor as a coping mechanism. It's not intended to justify the small-mindedness of people like you.

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  41.   Layla32 says:
    Posted: 07 Jul 07

    Lydon, I found your post remarkably shortsighted and prejudiced because you are harboring stereotypes that you need to address in yourself. I sincerely hope you are not in an interracial relationship nor do you have biracial children, because if you did, then I would pray for them. And about the titled article, I think when someone consistently prefers someone outside of their race or ethnic group, especially in the US, which is still dominated socially by white standards and perspective, I think it does have something to do with inner ideology and a type of prejudice towards yourself. That's inner work. I may date interracially, but I do not solely date interracially. I will date a black, a white, a asian or hispanic, it is the person who is most important to me, not the cloak they are housed in.

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  42.   Dailymale says:
    Posted: 06 Jul 07

    Stereotypes wouldn't exist unless there was some truth in them. The stiff-upper lip English man; the happy-go-lucky West Indian; the drunk Irish; the tight fisted Scot; the ignorant American; the humourless German; the arrogant French etc. Mature people ought to be able to laugh about these things. Of course all populations contain the entire spectrum of human attributes, but certain traits are more prevalent in some poulations than others, which is how stereotypes arise in the first place. In my experience the predilection for loud music is prominent in black populations. So what? - I play loud music myself. If I say that when I hear a car blasting out music, 7 times out of 10 the driver is black - that's just a truth of my experience, not a condemnation of blacks nor a manifestation of some deep-seated malevolence. Wallowing in victimhood is another universal human attribute but prevalent among black Americans for understandable historical reasons. It used to be so with the Irish but they seem to be getting over it, as will black Americans in time. Then we'll all be able to make jokes about black stereotypes as we all can about white ones - just like Chris Rock and other great black comics do.

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  43.   Fala says:
    Posted: 06 Jul 07

    Sounds like a plan to me Mossimo. What do you think Coco?

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  44.   Coco says:
    Posted: 05 Jul 07

    Sean, your girlfriend must be confused. You have issues. I would never date someone who has the nerve to stereotype my people like that. I guess your girlfriend is as mentally challenged as you appear to be. You are right, it is prejudice. Maybe you need to explore living in a decent area. Obviously, if your neighbors are allowed to play loud music, no rules are being reinforced. Find a decent place to live and you won't have this problem.

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  45.   kenyanito says:
    Posted: 05 Jul 07

    I will maintain that not all blacks are noisy maybe the ones in London.

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  46.   sonu786 says:
    Posted: 05 Jul 07

    thats great think ea mossimo!!

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  47.   mossimo36 says:
    Posted: 04 Jul 07

    I think I would rather live next to Coco and Fala!! What fun!

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  48.   Dailymale says:
    Posted: 03 Jul 07

    My next door neighbour scenario was an example of generalising based on race which we all necessarily do. My girlfriend is black and agrees with me. In general black people, particularly Jamaicans, are more likely to play loud music than, say, Japanese people. That's our experience here in London. Equally Asians would be less likely to be loud than whites but this discussion is about blacks. I've lived all my life with black people and socially don't know anyone other than blacks. No one I know would deny that in general black people make more noise than Chinese people. I prefer black people to socialise with and as lovers but not as neighbours unless I could vet them first, which you can't in real life. It's just an example of an unfair racial generalisation, but one which has a valid empirical basis.

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  49.   kenyanito says:
    Posted: 02 Jul 07

    Wow... these are all good comments though some spell out individual hatred. Sean, i just wish that you can go ahead and date a white woman.Being loud is based on individuals not race.

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  50.   Jabali says:
    Posted: 01 Jul 07

    My data suggests I have a moderate preference for african americans. Now that I did not know. I always thought both the African Americans and Euro Americans were foreign to me, and consciously I thought they were all the same to me. I wonder if that means I am racist or is it prejudiced.

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