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10 Quotes That Perfectly Explain Racism To People Who Claim They’re Colorblind

Scott WoodsScott Woods

On his blog, Scott Woods Makes Lists, poet Woods posted:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

“Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

“It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

What people are saying

44 thoughts on “10 Quotes That Perfectly Explain Racism To People Who Claim They’re Colorblind

  1. My favorites in the article were the ones by Nayyirah Waheed and Noah Chomsky.

  2. Sundiata Keita says:

    Jon Stewart is a Zionist, and sam Jackson took offense when he was at a Jewish Day Parade in NY and i told him blacks were being sterilized.

  3. Good for Samuel Jackson. That's the proper response to hearing total bullshit.

  4. Randy Townsend says:

    Benjamin Alan Mullenbach Samuel Jackson is a foolish supporter of those fake Ashkenazi zionist jews Israel.

  5. Have you seen Clayton Carson's documentary MLK in Palestine?

  6. Read Rayford Logan's The Betrayal of the Negro and as you read compare to whatis playing out in Congress and Supreme court today.The unpunished murder of Treyvon Martin, the Butlers rape of his Mother and the following murder of his father because he dared to question the slavers behaviour, not to mention the entire towns complicity in the horendusMurder of Emmit till.

  7. Amelia Aaron says:

    All excellent, especially the line from Scott Woods "Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on." Eye-opening perspective for those who assume racism has to be overt to exist.

  8. They all have excellent points but they left out that racism has become a mental disease to most racist. I think the purpose of it though is for social and economic reasons more than political.

  9. Rabi'a Hakima says:

    The Marcus Garvey quote seems out of place here. Besides raising a host of problematic questions (Africans "the only disorganized group"? Africans in need of "racial aim or purpose"? "Others have had the advantage of [racial] organization for centuries"?), the phrase is not an attempt to explain racism.

  10. Randy Bishop says:

    The saddest part about Racism is that it is essentially color-blind………….The African-American viewpoint seems to be that African-Americans have borne the brunt of Racism………..Get down on your knees and thank God you weren't a Jew in Nazi-Germany…….

  11. This kind of comment is exactly what this article is talking about. What is the purpose of comparing racial discrimination against blacks or any race against genocide. I find that you're comment falls into the common belief that black people love to play the victim and pull the race card, as if the injustices that have befallen us have given us some kind of power of excuse when something bad happens to us. This article goes far beyond racism. It's about the psychology and sociology of human behavior that we not only pass from generation to generation, but also adapt to and accept as values. We have such a "that's just the way it is" mentality and that's what needs to change. Of course, we are always trying to become better people in this regard; I just believe that we sometimes lose focus of what we are actually trying to accomplish. To me it's always felt like the problem was making everyone "equal" when we are already equal to begin with. Making that assumption that we are not is only further proving how we feel about each other. At the end of the day we are all humans.

  12. Carolyn Converse-Plummer says:

    We're the bad guys if we admit to being racist. We're the bad guys if we deny that we are racists. What exactly do you want us to do?

  13. Ina Plassa-travis says:

    As a Jew whose family has gotten chased out of about 9 different countries over the generations? this statement would be irritating even if you mentioned in in a relevant context, like comparing generations of persecution and exclusion that has been suffered by any number of cultures at the hands of imperial/colonial forces dating back to Rome…or the many variation of color prejudice that has been documented as far back as ancient Egypt. However, as someone who lost family in Germany during both wars? I think you're rather missing the point of the conversaion.

  14. Scott Woods' statement struck me as the most powerful. Wow.

  15. Amelia Aaron says:

    Wow, generalize much Randy? I'm intrigued as to how you could possibly be equipped to summarize the entire "African-American veiwpoint", and beyond that, how your comprehension of this article is limited to "Why are African-Americans always complaining?". I'd attempt to enlighten you but lost causes are rarely worth the effort.

  16. Amelia Aaron says:

    Way to epitomize the absurd level of *willing* social blindness this article examines, Carolyn. Racism is entrenched in every aspect of American society, from education to healthcare access to the justice system. It's not about what you admit or deny, it's about RECOGNIZING that racism is a pervasive problem in this country that contributes on a daily basis to poverty, police brutality, unjust prison sentences and so much more. Instead of whining about how victimized *you* feel that your prejudices are being called out, try considering the perspective of people who have been systematically disenfranchised for more than century in this country. As white people, we benefit every. single. day from racism. Acknowledging that would be a starting point.

  17. Virreinatos says:

    Admit to being a racist. We all are. Society built that into us from the start and we can't avoid it.

    Then work to undo all the damage that's been done to us and try your best to not behave in a racist way and acknowledge your privilege and fight against it.

    And by us I mean everyone.

  18. Shelly Michalski says:

    It strikes me that maybe we should change our viewpoint about social change in the U.S.. Ask yourself this: when in the history of man have social ideas changed so radically? Ideas about race and now homosexuality have changed 180 degrees in my lifetime in the United States. – in the context of history this is amazing. We've done a good job and without a doubt there's more ground to cover. But let's take a breather, be proud, make it positive and work together.

  19. Chuck Crewsaw Well said

  20. David Quincy says:

    Racism is a form of violence that is at its core, is dehumanizing and genocidal, its victims targeted because of their race and their culture. As a Native American, as a man with children and grandchildren the name "Redskins" puts into context that core concept and definition of racism as being an inherent, historical, even cherished American tradition, a part of the heritage, in which white privilege is the dominant culture and anything outside of that culture simply does not matter. Our Tribal cultures, our peoples, our children, and elders, have all been murdered, in acts of genocide, as part of those same American heritage and traditions of racism.
    These traditions and heritage derives from concepts such as "Manifest Destiny", reinforced with statements such as "Kill the Indian, save the man" and perpetuated to the present with the Washington Redskins, with the team owner and fans refusing to change the name, because of the "proud history and traditions of the team" and besides the name is meant to "honor" Native Americans. Redskins may have started out as a reference to face and body paint, but has come to symbolize a racist view and arrogance that de-humanizes Native Americans.

  21. Evie Brown says:

    Since my birth race is white, to millions I'm automatically a racist, no matter what I
    think, say or do, and that;s racism, too. It is what it is.

  22. I, for one, would not call you a bad guy either way. I think that being a bad guy is inherently different than having bad traits. Now, if you told me that you weren't a racist, and refused to examine your own beliefs, I'd say that was a bad trait. I think that many members of the world's population are racists. The most important thing, however, is that we try to learn about ourselves and others, and participate in frequent introspection. A racist who seeks to learn about others and empathize is doing a very noble thing, and I have the utmost respect for that. What do I want you to do? I'd love it if you engaged in more discussions like this 🙂

  23. Evie, you bring up an interesting point. There are many people out there who think I'm a racist too, just cause I'm black. And I hate that. I think any time we ascribe a set of behaviors to a group of people solely based on their skin color, we perpetuate racism and generalization.

  24. Rabi'a, are you familiar with Marcus Garvey? He was an interesting figure, who believed that us brown folks should actually leave the US, and set up our very own Nation State in Africa. I disagree with much of what he wrote, but he produced some interesting ideas. I think that you are correct in that this particular quote may not be the most appropriate, but I think in his context he is lamenting the loss of black identity, which may itself affect our own views of race, and others' views of us.

  25. Evie Brown says:

    Adam Cisroe Pearson Thank you for saying it better. We need to get where the individual triumphs because just the word "racism" is violence against our collective human being. The Dreamer, MLK, said to me on TV when i was 13 or so, "We love you" and I still get chills when I remember my relief, because, God, we love you, too. We are each other.

  26. What's it about? It sounds interesting.

  27. Goodness, wish that I was around when he was. He was such a giant!

  28. Evie Brown says:

    Adam Cisroe Pearson He didn't know me but I do believe he loved me…us all.

  29. Evie Brown says:

    These articles are based on generalizations about people. Racism is based on generalizations about people. Until each individual is singly honored and "judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin,"( black, white red yellow, brown or other) racism will exist. Generalizations exist about all races by all races everywhere on this planet, moreso at some places at different times in history. There is also inter race, sex, age generalization and oppression everywhere. The pecking order doesn't just apply to chickens. Running the guilt story just means you're going to do it again, running the victim story just means you are part of the problem too.

  30. Rabi'a Hakima says:

    I am very familiar with the work of Marcus Garvey, and I am quite familiar with the context of the quote. I would not have made the comment otherwise. The quote does not explain racism, and it, in its original context, is not even an attempt to explain racism, so it does not belong in this list.

  31. Rabi'a Hakima says:

    Evie Brown, calling a racist "racist" or an act or practice of racism "racism" is not violence. It is accuracy. Too many racists today think that they can get away with being racist by pretending that calling attention to racism is somehow unjust. In other words, they can be racist and say/do racist things, but if anyone says, "Hey, that's racist," they complain that they've been called a hurtful name. Worry less about the use of the word "racist" and more about whether or not it could accurately be applied to you. Hint: if you do or say anything that supports, condones, or perpetuates racism (as when you try to discourage calling out racism for what it is), then you have much to worry about if you don't like being called racist.

  32. Carolyn Converse-Plummer says:

    So let me get this straight. I am being called a racist based solely on the color of my skin?

  33. Andrew Brick says:

    Virreinatos an honest question: how does one fight against one's privilege?

  34. Tim Bare says:

    Andrew Brick think about how your privilege informs every single interaction you have with people who don't enjoy that same privilege, and seek to look beyond your privilege in those interactions. Read books by authors of color, watch films by directors of color (starring people of color). Try to put yourself in a position where you can give back (volunteering, etc.). Try your best to live in a diverse community, even if that community makes you uncomfortable. Understand that these are small things, but that you have to be the change you want to see. "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools".

  35. Maybe it's because I've been working in a casino for 3 yrs… but I've noticed that racism is only bad if you're white… incompetent tribal members are hired over skilled non-natives,(i would understand if people were equally skilled and they use the native card as a tie breaker) it's okay to have an "African beauty" beauty pageant… all college students should get into a school because of their merit; race shouldn't be part of the selection process at all… you shouldn't get into college just because they need to fill their quota… I'm not saying this post is wrong, I'm just saying "whites" aren't the only ones getting special treatment

  36. MG Philli says:

    How did you draw this conclusion?

  37. yes, white privilege exists, its called ingroup bias. what should i do about it and don't say examine it as that won't change anything. also racism is lazy thinking and should be stopped, but its not the only time people make generalizations about entire groups

  38. Abby Davis Harris says:

    We are the bad guys if we choose to ignore people's experience AND our privilege.

  39. Diana Baskin says:

    I would rather you admit it then pretend it doesn't exist. I personally would like to be treated like a human being who thinks for herself. I would like to be judged as an individual not a group. We should all be treated like we are part of one race, the human race.

  40. Johnny L Thomas Jr. says:

    Neely Fuller Jr. defines White Supremacy as a system that dominates all non-white people "in the known universe" in nine areas of people activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war. The Code also states that there are, logically speaking, only three major classifications of people: white, non-white, and white supremacists. The Code is one of the sources of inspiration for "The Isis Papers" written by Dr. Francis Cress-Welsing. "If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism)-what it is, and how it works-everything else that you understand will only confuse you". Neely Fuller Jr.

  41. Jennifer Joy Johnson says:

    I'll have to look up Nalo Hopkinson, since her bio says she writes science fiction, and that's mostly what I read. The only major black female author of science fiction I was familiar with was Octavia Butler. But if she's talking the s.f. canon, a preponderance of white men is to be expected. They were almost the only ones writing it for about 60 years, with the occasional woman writing. But it's a genre that is enriched immensely by any strong imagination, and making the genre as diverse as the stories is a major positive.

  42. Mikelle Hunt says:

    No disrespect intended to any of those quoted, but this world never has been and never will be confused with a level playing field. Fight the good fight, but ultimately positive change can only come from the actions of individuals, families and communities – and not from any government program or acknowledgement of "white privilege."

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