Have we become closeted racists?

Posted by James, 25 Feb 09

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Are Americans cowards when it comes to discussing racial issues? Attorney General Eric Holder seems to believe so. Truth is, this doesn’t mean we don’t talk about race enough. Even when our comments comfortably hide behind practiced euphemisms, that counts as talk about race. Americans talk about race all the time.

We live in two racial worlds. The heterogeneous ones where people interact superficially and watch what they say; and the homogeneous private worlds (our family and friends) where we are allowed to let down our guard and vent … where race is discussed more honestly.

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Our forefathers used to talk about race publicly. But after the civil rights movement demonized public displays of extreme racial intolerance, most of us have resorted to sterile public discourse about race, which if you think about it breeds more doubt and even justifiable paranoia. I mean, one can’t help but assume that other folks are just telling you what you want to hear (or what is racially acceptable), all the while reserving their uncensored racial opinions for their more private audience.

Some people miss the racial transparency that was there in the 1950s because then, one didn’t have to battle with the suspicion that people’s public expressions could be masking racial hatred. People are scared of speaking candidly about race because of the fear that they might get into trouble. And when it comes to interracial communication, most closeted racists find it so awkward that they fear they might say something stupid once they start trying.

All our public discussions about race end with people trapped in a game of accusations and counteraccusation. And when we are pretending not to talk about race, we are busy reading too much into people's actions and remarks, looking for the slight indication of racism on their part so we can start with the accusations and counteraccusations.

An example is the recent cartoon in the New York Post where a police officer in the drawing makes a joke about a gunned-down chimp's connection to the economic-stimulus package. Well the paper got summoned for trafficking in age-old popular and scientific stereotypes about black people being evolutionarily closer to other primates.

So what is the point us talking about race in the social vacuums we call homes, then come and treat others with suspicion the next day? Much as the civil rights movement has managed to reduce extreme public racial intolerance, I don’t think this has solved America’s racial problems

Don’t you think such empty conversations are the ones that breed all this paranoia that makes us accuse others of racial discrimination? Are we really solving anything by being closeted racists?

29 responses to "Have we become closeted racists?"

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  1.   fkoi says:
    Posted: 17 May 10

    Ms. Happy_Girl, Good point. The distinction between preference and prejudice is important. The meaning of words is important. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter-tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning."

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  2.   Member says:
    Posted: 23 Apr 10

    Dear Happy Your not white?????????????? (maybe the brown skin and black hair in the picture fooled) JESUS CHRIST! You are not the brightest "crayon" in the box. Great, it seems to me the more attractive a black woman is, the more crazy they are! (I actually believe that). No wonder your cat is your best friend. You know what, have your cat type here because the cat got more common sense. You just wanted me to respond to you. I hope your happy now. This is the prime example of what professional black men have to deal with. Then, they wonder why nobody marry them. Have a nice night.

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  3.   Happy_Girl says:
    Posted: 23 Apr 10

    Perferences and prejuices are two different things. prejudice? ?/?pr?d??d?s/ Show Spelled [prej-uh-dis] Show IPA noun, verb,-diced, -dicing. noun 1.an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. prefer? ?/pr??f?r/ Show Spelled[pri-fur] Show IPA verb (used with object),-ferred, -ferring. 1.to set or hold before or above other persons or things in estimation; like better; choose rather than: to prefer beef to chicken.

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  4.   Happy_Girl says:
    Posted: 23 Apr 10

    Mr Laurelton Queens You scare the hell out of me and I am not white.

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  5.   segahikui says:
    Posted: 27 Aug 09

    Yeah...I wish we could all be human beings. I agree with most of the posts above. Racism is prejudice backed by power. Everyone is prejudiced to some degree. Some people won't date short people,tall people,black people,white,asian,native american etc. The point is that everyone is "biased" in one way or another. The real challenge, like coolgirl8791 said is to have the courage to step out of your comfort zone.

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  6. Posted: 09 May 09

    Well crap, I do have profiles at e-harmony and Match.com! All I know is people have a tendency to fear what they don't understand. this whole subject saddens my heart, the color of ones skin, ethnic background or their culture. Maybe someday we'll all evolve into creatures that are all the same! I hope not, how boring that would be.

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  7.   Ichibod says:
    Posted: 12 Apr 09

    draco_1955, that's exactly how I feel. We as people discriminate amongst many things for various reasons; taste, smell, color, sound, and texture. Color of skin is no different, except the historical significance that it has had over the course of human existence. That is why there is a such thing as racism rather than sourism, stankism, loudism, spectrumism, or roughism. Racism is not negative by itself. Racism is having any feeling or opinion, and/or choosing certain words or actions in regard to race. I tell my roommate that everyone one is a racist. That doesn't mean we hate someone of another race, although it may at times. For example, everyone member of this site is a racist seeing as though they joined this site rather than Match.com or eHarmony. Especially members that are attracted to specific races rather than 'All Ethnicites' are racist. The fact that you can, for whatever reasons (feel free to discuss) set your profile to reject messages from certain races is racist. I think the site is put together very well which is why I decided to subscribe to it. It has plenty of useful options that help find what you're looking for more efficiently.

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  8. Posted: 17 Mar 09

    Of course this nation is made up of closet racists. People sitting next to you with hidden thoughts and ideas (both negative and positive)about our neighbors of different cultures. We are all guilty of it at times. Thoughts will pop up in our minds every now and then about a certain group of people who do what they do. We will tend to beleive these notions if they seem to apply without asking our neighbor a simple, "Why?". Now you cant ask an Asian about the Mexican culture. You'd be better off asking a Mexican because you will learn the truth. Stereotypes have been made about an entire population just because the idea seems to apply and that that's the way it should be. What's so intriguing is that we know this thought process is WRONG. What truly separates one from racism is knowledge. One who is willing to seek the truth or learn from his/her neighbor steps outside of the boxed realm of ignorance. This step only sounds simple but it begins with courage. This is just my opinion that racism is cowardice and ignorance projected in anger. 'Hate' is such a strong word and I personally don't like to use it unless it truly applies. So far, I can proudly say that I dont hate any one. Sure, I will not 'like' what someone does or say, but I will not 'hate' them or their entire population for it. If I don't understand something I will find the courage to ask or seek the knowledge.

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  9.   Zenergetic says:
    Posted: 16 Mar 09

    This is part of the conflict between the individual and the society. Society is teamwork and the American standard is the more homogenized the team, the better it works. So to offset out personal differences, we tend to generalize what people find offensive and, out of respect for the society, we fear going close to those boundaries - even if these boundaries aren't always offensive to everyone. However, we are a society of individuals and a lot of our individual cultures (to be truthful, every household in the world has its own culture) is still seen as divisible by ethnicity, among other factors (i.e. age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc). Since we still define our individual selves by our racial differences, we inadvertently maintain the misuse of those same racial differences when we attempt to mix together as part of a social community. To effectively reduce the negativity of our racial differences, we must risk stepping towards those boundaries in order to learn more about one another. To progress, society simply can not afford to be a spectator sport.

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  10.   NileExotic says:
    Posted: 13 Mar 09

    We are glad we are Americans, other countries are so far behind when it comes to racial issues. Yes there are a lot of closet racists in America, but overall Americans are open for discussion.

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  11.   Member says:
    Posted: 09 Mar 09

    Listen Black people can never be racist. We don't have the power to discriminate on jobs. We never said to white people drink at separate water fountains. How can you include black people as being closet racists when you caused us to dislike you because of the past things you have done. You reap what you sew!

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  12.   Leroy says:
    Posted: 08 Mar 09

    We are certainly not a country of closeted racist. We are however all different in terms of comfort and discomfort. I do believe there those who are racist but I also there are those who are uncomfortable with the subject just as there are those who are uncomfortable with the idea of talking about sex or expressing emotion. It is just a fact that there are subjects regardless of what they are that certain people are going to be uncomfortable with. So we cannot be so quick to judge but we also cannot afford to be naive, racist, racism and bigotry these things do exist and it will not go away simply because we may choose to hide our heads in the sand. SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO??

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  13.   Leroy says:
    Posted: 08 Mar 09

    We are certainly not a country of closeted racist. We are however all different in terms of comfort and discomfort. I do believe there those who are racist but I also there are those who are uncomfortable with the subject just as there are those who are uncomfortable with the idea of talking about sex or expressing emotion. It is just a fact that there are subjects regardless of what they are that certain people are going to be uncomfortable with. So we cannot be so quick to judge but we also cannot afford to be nave, racist, racism and bigotry these things do exist and it will not go away simply because we may choose to hide our heads in the sand. SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO??

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  14.   purplezen says:
    Posted: 05 Mar 09

    There is still racism and inequality when we cannot say to our black friends what we would say to our white friends. When we can truly treat each person like the next whether we say good or bad, that is when racism will make the most progress.

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  15.   Member says:
    Posted: 05 Mar 09

    So I am flat out racist. Now what that makes you oh righteous one? It seems like your dodging the subject to make yourself feel good. Are you a closet racist is my question? Yes or no? Have a nice day

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  16.   What?! says:
    Posted: 05 Mar 09

    As usual, you don't read. You're such a dumb-ass and have the gall to call yourself "educated." You: "Now I am a closet racist?" Me: "Mr. Laurelton Queens isnt a closet racisthes flat out racist. " I said you weren't a closet racist---I said you were flat out racist. If you don't understand that which is pretty clear then you need to get your eyes checked. At least you admit you're the bad guy.

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  17.   Member says:
    Posted: 04 Mar 09

    Now I am a closet racist? That is like the pot calling the kettle black. Like you have never thought and said prejudice comments. Unlike you I don't mind being the bad guy. Hypocrites is what makes me sick.

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  18.   What?! says:
    Posted: 04 Mar 09

    Mr. Laurelton Queens isn't a closet racist---he's flat out racist. Look at the crap he posts about White men and Black women on his blog. The nasty pictures, the hateful comments---disgusting.

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  19.   Member says:
    Posted: 02 Mar 09

    Man Listen everybody is prejudice. In particular white America is afraid of black men. They make laws because of us. The whole Republican party wins elections because of us. Now their whipping boy is Islamic people. Before it was Hindu people when I was growing up in Woodside Queens NYC. I grew up in the 80s when it was acceptable for white people to be blatantly racist. Then white flight happened when minorities stopped putting up with their shit. Now there is a good white people and it is unfortunate many of them get judged this way. Just like I got judged by criminal black people. I read Stormfront the racist website membership increased since Barak Obama's election. Yet it the same white people saying "they are not racist". I am prejudice and not going to sit and bullshit you. At the same time, I wouldn't stop a white person from getting employment. After all, a white man gave me a break for employment. So why wouldn't I do the same for a qualified person whether they are white. By the way we all self segregate. Asians like sticking with Asians but nobody calls them racist. When whites want to stick their own they are called racist. I never thought of it that way. I am perfectly happy being around my own people. Society just think it's good to force people of all races to be together. When I was in Undergrad everybody pretty much self segregated. Even the parties thrown by the Alphas and Kappas was pretty much segregated with a couple wiggers. Anyway I am out What's up to my friends in Ohio, Indiana, Chitown, Nebraska. Denver you know what it is. http://mrlaureltonqueens.blogspot.com/

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  20.   Selvy777 says:
    Posted: 02 Mar 09

    Aric Holder's comments about race were interesting, to say the least. People are indeed careful about what they say because there are no real free-speech zones outside of the home in which to discuss things. (Universities don't count, either, as ironically they're the least free/tolerant these days.) When people feel free enough to talk to each other AND cut each other some slack then we're able to discuss what we think. Only way to clear up misunderstandings (or laugh about them) is to be able to talk about 'em. Btw, about the cartoon. The cartoonist did muff it up a bit by not providing a better visual clue for the public to catch onto--sadly most people aren't aware of the fact that Congress (the Legislative branch) writes the bills, not the President (which is the Executive branch).

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  21.   draco_1955 says:
    Posted: 02 Mar 09

    I perceive racism like any other prejudice: We all have prejudices; we like strawberries or not; we like meatloaf or not; so prejudice is a normal thing. The problems occur when we cannot overcome our own prejudices and see other as just people. Love does not always conquer all, but love is truly blind to all external features; personality has no skin-tone, no religion, no genetics.

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  22. Posted: 28 Feb 09

    yes, that means..old school americans

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  23.   malayika09 says:
    Posted: 28 Feb 09

    Sassysam Thank you kindly... for your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it and so is every body else...negative or positive .. this is what makes America Great ! I pray that every body at some point finds peace on this Interracial issue ...Personally i have found my peace and no body can tell me other wise unless God him self comes down , no body can make feel a certain way by the way they think or what they say ...and that takes us back to the beginning of my reply "You are all entitled to your opinions" and so am i ..this is no longer a subject for debate to me .

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  24.   sassysam says:
    Posted: 28 Feb 09

    Malayika, I am a person who has never dated outside of my race, but I speak as someone who in the past has criticized the practice. As I grow older, I realize that even in our differences we are fundamentally the same. Our backgrounds and cultures are different but our struggles and our successes know no color.

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  25.   sassysam says:
    Posted: 28 Feb 09

    wildcattt it does matter because what is said behind closed doors doesnt stay there it tends to spill out those doors in often violent and hurtful ways, if we confront the issues in an open, honest and constructive way and dispel the racial myths and prejudices then true healing can begin.

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  26.   malayika09 says:
    Posted: 26 Feb 09

    Do you think inter-racial dating is okay? I mean, yes, it's getting more and more acceptable, but do you think it should be? Do you think people should stick to their own race? I personally think it shouldn't matter what color skin you have. It only matters what's deep within.

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  27.   malayika09 says:
    Posted: 26 Feb 09

    Do you think inter-racial dating is okay? I mean, yes, it's getting more and more acceptable, but do you think it should be? Do you think people should stick to their own race? I personally think it shouldn't matter what color skin you have. It only matters what's deep within. Just live, and enjoy life we are all one no color no race i wonder who came up with that idea...am very happy dating inter-racially and it is very well tolerated in East Africa so we are good ..don't care what any body else think we are all Gods Children

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  28.   wildcattt says:
    Posted: 26 Feb 09

    sometimes its true when they say "what you don't know wont hurt"....racism will never go away so why lisen or care about what the next person thinks about you, life's too short, just keep living your life. i would rather not know whats being said behind closed doors...it just dose'nt matter!!!!!

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  29.   sassysam says:
    Posted: 26 Feb 09

    I agree, as a black woman, we have a tendency to blame everything including the way we are treated by others from different races on color. There seems to be an acceptable tradition of being openly hateful to those who are not "black" from members of the black community but any criticism in the reverse is unaccepatable and full of censure. I would rather know where a person stands definitively on racial issues than worry about what someone really thinks behind my back. Better the racist you know about, because you can always see them coming.

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