I learned a lot from the most recent presidential debate, but my largest takeaway by far was how to identify the least racist person in the room. Because, you know, being “least racist” is preferable to — I don’t know — being a raging racist or a little bit racist or just structurally racist as opposed to set-Black-Wallstreet-in-Tulsa-on-fire-and-kill-everyone-Black type of racist. Then there’s old Jim Crow racist or maybe don’t give Black folks affordable mortgage loans racist. Or the plain old “Black-kids-aren’t-smart” type of racist who then decides to miseducate the Black children in the classroom.
There’s so many types and layers and examples of racism it’s truly very hard for this Black woman to determine which kind is actually the least of it. How does one rank the horrors of racism? Maybe it’s better to be the kind of racist who only spits at Black people as opposed to being the kind of racist who hires Black women with three degrees into a job where they are more qualified than their White, male supervisor.
Whew. There’s so much racism it’s hard to even squeeze the descriptions into short sentences.
The fact that someone fixes their mouth to state their acceptance of a wee little bit of racism means that the same person is part and parcel of America’s greatest and original sin. Being least racist is not an accolade; it’s an abomination. How can any part of racism and what it gives birth to be acceptable to a person who actually believes in justice?
However, despite the emotional labor involved in watching that debate, I’ve come up with a checklist that you can use to figure out if you are the least racist person in the room. Score yourself by counting up your yeses and I’ll tell you what your score means at the bottom of the scroll.
- Do you think “catch and release” is an awesome, humane, and well thought way to describe a program that involves the oversight of Black and Brown immigrants to the U.S.?
- Have you ever avoided using the words “Black people” because saying the words makes you super uncomfy and instead you use words like “they” or “them” or “super predators”?
- Have you ever been asked about environmental racism and your response is that the people drinking leaded water and dealing with various forms of cancer are “rich” or “making a lot of money”?
- Do you think Abraham Lincoln was the savior of Black people everywhere, for all time?
- Do you believe that the 401(k)s of Black people in America are “through the roof”?
- Do you think that Black people in America have the same amount of money in a 401(k) as White people do? Wait. Skip this question if you’ve never contemplated the impact of slavery and Jim Crow on generational wealth and retirement savings.
- Have you ever used the word “thug” to describe non-White people?
- Have you ever told your one Black coworker that he is “one of the good ones”?
- Have you ever told your Black neighbor that they aren’t like the others?
- Have you ever described yourself as the least racist person in the room?
Here’s how to score yourself. Did you have at least one “yes”? If so, you’re pretty damn racist.
Sorry, you’re not the least racist person in the room.