Sound Off

Afraid of Seeming Racist?

On today's show, we looked at a new study that says many white people avoid situations where they might come off as racist. They're afraid to talk about race, for starters, but some are also nervous about simply hanging out with people of different backgrounds.

Want to talk about it?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I guess the scarcity of comments further proves the results of the featured study. One would think the anonymity of the web would make it easier to facilitate such conversation on race...

Sent by ty | 11:02 AM | 5-28-2008

Race is mostly a red herring. Listen to the debates about whether Obama is really black or is really African American to get an idea how useless it is to try to define race. How much black ancestry or white ancestry does a person have to have before they are considered black or white? If the distinction is made too loosely then many people will qualify as both. If too strict, then a large percentage of people wind up without a defined race. How does a raceless person fit into this picture?

You can't turn to science for help. Genetics can compare people and populations for similarity, but hair, eye, and skin color are the barest minority of what makes us different. There is more human genetic diversity within Africa not counting European immigrants than there is on the entire planet. A Kenyan and an Ivorian are about as similar as a Polynesian and a platypus. This makes sense because our ancestors had millions of years to frolic about Africa before heading out to Scranton.

While I do not believe in race as a useful tool for categorizing people, I do believe in discrimination. People will treat other people like dirt based on skin color, religion, class, cast, sex, sexual preference, language, accent, and a million other reasons. By focusing on the pretext for discrimination we are conceding half the argument to the bigots. Trying to correct historical wrongs by acknowledging the original difference is as misguided as the people who committed those wrongs. If people need help we should try to help them, but it has to be done in a way that doesn't perpetuate these arbitrary and harmful distinctions.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 11:18 AM | 5-28-2008

I think most are afraid of revealing their, all too well hidden, biases. Look at how many citizens in West Virginia and Kentucky said they wouldn't vote for Barak Obama because he was black. There were many more who, when pressed, couldn't come up with a good reason not to vote for him. Most of the time it came down to," I just don't trust him." Then you have ask why don't you trust him and you can plainly see that most were more than uncomfortable with a person of color holding the highest office in the land.
If anyone pressed for further reasoning I didn't hear it from any news reporting agency. Not even NPR and it does strike me as strange more folks haven't participated in this discussion.

Sent by Gig Brown | 11:25 AM | 5-28-2008

I just read that Rachel Martin is to be a correspondent at ABC News. Is that true? It seems like the BBP loses a lot of on on-air talent? Do you have plans to replace her or Luke Burbank?

Sent by Sally Rosenberg | 11:33 AM | 5-28-2008

I liked the story. It reminded me of a scene in Clerks 2 where Randall uses the term "porch monkey" to refer to a lazy person. Dante tells him that it's a racial slur and that he should really shut up. Randall thinks that porch monkey should mean a lazy person, not a lazy black person so he says he'll take it back; he'll make it OK to use porch monkey in regular conversation. Dante says that he can't take it back because he's not black. Randall calls Dante racist because Randall says Dante is saying he can't do something because he's not black.

That movie was the first time I'd ever heard that racial epithet and the first time I'd heard most of the other ones referring to blacks. And it's not like I didn't grow up without access to the black community. As a result, I pondered something. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's my generation, maybe it's where I live, but is it a good idea to keep bringing up racial slurs and racial differences if there's a whole group of people for whom it's not even part of their lives? Why remind us that porch monkey is bad? I love Clerks 2 and would never decry it but it's something I wondered.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 11:51 AM | 5-28-2008

My friends and I at work have been debating the use of the word "jew" as an appropriate or innappropriate word for non-jews to use (i.e. "Israeli Jews living in the West Bank..."). They favor the term "people who are jewish", in fear that they will sound anti-semitic in using the term "jew" in any way. I had always assumed that the terms was equal to "Christian", "Muslim", or "Daoist". I initially deemed them "hypersensitive", but I am now wavering to their p.c. pressures. What the deal?

Sent by Chad May | 12:44 PM | 5-28-2008

Bravo Dave -- well said... race is one of those odd features/traits that seems to me to be much more mental/intangible then it is physical. We often use the terms race and culture interchangeably when in fact they are two very different things. Genetically, there is very little difference between a white, black, red, brown or yellow person... skin color is just one of the means people use to associate themselves with a group. That said, however, given the abuse that has occurred over the centuries in the name of race (and more recently in the US) there is an understandable (and at times healthy) contemporary emphasis on racial background and ethnicity.

I can envision a time, though, (perhaps a few generations down the road once historical wounds have been given enough time to heal) when "Race" will have lost a lot of its power. Until that time, however, it's important for people to respect another's sensitivity to race... in both speech and action.

Now an interesting anecdote:
I am a young "white" male who has heavily eastern European roots -- primarily Slovak. I am a 2nd generation immigrant but was always more inundated with American culture than anything else (though I do still hold a strong love for heavy E. European food). So growing up, I always thought of myself as just another "white" kid...

So imagine my surprise when on my first day of college, a history professor calls me out for roll call and says, "Slovak, huh!?" - my last name isn't very inconspicuous - "Did you know you're a mutt?" I was a little confused until he explained that in the early 1800s, people with my background weren't considered white because we weren't Anglo-Saxon (and more so as a Slovak because we have a heavy mixture of different cultures, ethnicities, etc...). Then he explained that in those days there were whole tiers (in Europe & the US) of whiteness from highest to lowest... ending (of course) with those furthest from "pure white". So as he explained: two hundred years ago I wasn't white... I was only partly white... a mutt!

Sent by Dan | 1:01 PM | 5-28-2008

My opinion is that since racism principally affects Black people negatively, there's not much gain for White America to deal with it. Why jump into such a divise subject if there is nothing in it for me? Thus, the majority of White America prefers to just pretend like it doesn't exist. That's the type of attitude that allowed for slavery to exist, thats the type of attitude that allowed for the civil rights abuses to exists, and that's the type of attitude exists currently. The only time the issues are really given attention by White America is when some Black person starts screaming about it and shoves it in their faces appealing to consciences of the majority to care about what happens to people that simply don't look like them. (Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcom X, and yes Jessie Jackson and even Al Sharpton) But, of course all of them were/are criticized by the majority of White America for "stirring up trouble" and disturbing the peace and exagerating the situations. It seems many Whites just have a difficult time accepting that racism exists and that because of it Black people in this country have a more difficult time just trying to live everyday life. Or maybe they just don't care. Perhaps its just a "its not my problem . . . what am I supposed to do about it" attitude. But, come on? you really don't expect me to feel sorry for Don Imus (Dog the Bounty Hunger, Michael Richards, etc) do you? Or for people like him that say divisive and demeaning things and then are called out as being divisive and demeaning and maybe even racist?

Do you want to go back to the days when you can say racist things and everybody just laughs along, or (if they don't agree) still gives that courtesy laugh?

You know if I go around calling women b@ch#s and calling homosexuals fa@$ots won't people think, hmmm I think he doesn't like homosexuals and may be sexist, right?

Sent by Marcus | 1:09 PM | 5-28-2008

I have lived in 10 different states, been surrounded by multiple cultural and ethnic influences, am liberal in my religious and political philosophies and am "European American", yes, peachy and pale, okay..."white". So I was rather upset with myself when last fall shadowy questions formed in the back of my mind. Would, could a "black" president protect me, my interests? Would I be sidelined as other minorities have experienced in our history with a white male president? Could I say this is "My" President? But by not ignoring these thoughts, really looking at them, I was able to bring them forward and ask even more honest questions. Did I doubt the success and stability of the school my sons attended because the principal happened to be an African American woman? Or my husband's boss who has been the best boss my husband ever dealt with, and he is from Nigeria? Did I doubt my friend's concern or the TV weatherman's accuracy because of their skin tone? I was being completely ridiculous. Who best speaks for me, my well being, my family's well being and my country's future? I have my candidate, I have my future president, yes, he happens to be an African American as well as the one who speaks to my hopes for solving America's problems, and will work to the benefit of every American, whatever their color, culture or creed.

Sent by Mara S. | 1:30 PM | 5-28-2008

I really wanted to comment on this but after 3 trys at not sounding racist I give up. There really is no freedom of speech when it comes to White individuals talking about real or perceived concerns they have about blacks.

Sent by AY | 1:42 PM | 5-28-2008

I've never considered myself to be one of the "hale fellows, well-met," for whom social interaction is as easy as breathing, so I don't find myself more uncomfortable among African-Americans than, say, Irish-Americans (I'm in neither group; I'm Italian-American).

Sent by emc | 1:53 PM | 5-28-2008

If you are fortunate enough to have lives in diverse areas of the world, you will eventually see that people have to have a relationship with others before you can say he/she is good or bad...even both. Diversity is not a part of America as a whole. I currently live in the State of Washington and feel like I am in another country, just like many people who visit Miami, where I lived most of my life, say. We have to be patient and with time we will get to know each other and trust each other. Whoever becomes our next president will have a very difficult time of getting us back on the right track, so I hope that people don't jump to the "race card" if Obama wins, or the "gender card" if Clinton wins.Prejudice is part of our world, we must make sure to keep discrimination out of it.We are a young country...we will learn how to live in peace. Viva La Paz

Sent by Carlos Sotolongo | 2:14 PM | 5-28-2008

I think the current discussion of race, resulting from Obama's serious presidential run, has really hurt race relations. Not his race itself, but the discussions of race. Most liberal Dems like me, have no more problem with his race than we do his Chicago roots. But as a Hillary supporter I have been so offended by the slamming of the Clintons (and her supporters) every time his blackness is mentioned. Obama's supporters and the media have called these old school white liberals, who have done more for civil rights than any black people I know, racists and accused them of playing the race card at every corner. I think the inability of Obama's followers and the media to discuss and acknowledge his race, without making Hillary a bad person, has made even nonracist whites, quite disgusted and impatient with him and his campaign. If he wins the Dem nomination,he probably will lose in November...not because of his blackness, but because of the way it was discussed and handled in the media and in his campaign. This presidential campaign has actually made me much less anxious about the issue. I no longer care if I offend some thin-skinned person, because I know I am not a racist.

Sent by D Roberts | 2:31 PM | 5-28-2008

In determining whether you are biased against anything one should always search inward for the motivation behind you decision or preference. Questioning your own motivations will make a huge difference and will help one avoid seeming biased or racist.

Sent by Yolanda | 2:49 PM | 5-28-2008

Why should black americans refrain from calling white folks racists? Why must all discussions of race (when whites are involved) be nicely and gently presented so as to not "make whites feel uncomfortable"? Most black Americans are NOT comfortable as they are constantly confronted with nasty and demeaning images of themselves (in media, at work, in statistical data, etc.). Images for which could be shown of every single 'racial' group in this country. Yes, image that, there are millions (approx. 40 to 60 million) poor white people in this country. Some of which steal, are addicted to drugs, are incarcerated, and on welfare. Where are they? They seem to be invisible? Why do I not experience a constant barrage of images of whites being 'shiftless'? That's white supremacy (I feel this term to be more accurately descriptive). The history and legacy of race relations is this country is PAINFUL and entrenched!!!! Period! So I don't want to hear whites saying that they don't hold internalized white supremacist ideologies (the belief that white people are better do better think better are more advanced that non-whites) because many blacks and other minorities do. Why do we constantly seek to avoid discomfort (generally)? Why must things (discussions, interactions, etc) always be NICE and convenient? Why not face the pain and agony of difficult, angry emotions instead of avoiding them? That's the only way that situations (the world situation) can be solved. You cant NICE the nastiness away. We are a country full of people who avoid discomfort and inconvenience. Let's stop and find a constructive way to deal with our anger, disappointment, shame, and history!

Sent by fran | 2:58 PM | 5-28-2008

I believe it takes really secure and open individuals to be able to discuss race in a manner that when you leave the conversation you feel as if you have learned something. I am an African American woman and am willing to engage in conversation about race whenever the opportunity presents itself. Educating others about the thought process of African Americans versus the thought process of White Americans is a good beginning; discussing why African Americans do certain things that White Americans don't do; how and why African Americans see some things, where race is involved, totally different from how White Americans see them, etc. When we can look at each other and realize that our actions and behaviors are rooted in our individual experiences, then effective dialogue and healing can begin. It is unfortunate however, that society and social conditioning play a great part in perpetuating racism and until this change, efforts to open the lines of true communication among the races will be hampered greatly. We (humans) have a tendency to get stuck in a thought-rut and until "the right someone" says it is ok to accept African Americans as real citizens, some of us will remain stuck. We really are more alike than we are different!

Sent by Timbuk2 | 3:07 PM | 5-28-2008

@Sally Rosenberg: "I just read that Rachel Martin is to be a correspondent at ABC News. Is that true?"

Argh! It seems to be true or at least widely reported which is the same as. Please, please don't make Mike a permanent host. I like him as a change of pace. He's funny, smart, amazingly quick witted and a trivia geek which I find most endearing. However, his habit of talking over, correcting, and contradicting the other staff and guests gets tiresome after a while. The exasperation of his cohosts is evident as well. I don't think I could take a steady diet of it.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 5:52 PM | 5-28-2008

i agree with AY. i wouldn't even attempt an honest conversation. in my view most people are just as racist as they perceive and accuse anglos of being, but i would never say anything about it because then i would be considered a racist. and i wouldn't want to place my career in jeopardy, it is just not worth it.

Sent by AL | 6:09 PM | 5-28-2008

did they do the same study on black students? I can cite numerous studies where black people have stronger negative reactions to "black images" than white people.
race is a red herring

Sent by davis | 6:19 PM | 5-28-2008

Humans are one race (species), Homo sapiens. There are people of color and people of pallor. Despite the Bureau of Census and 17th Century anthropologists, skin pigmentation is not an indicator of species or "race." It is the media who perpetuates this myth. This has been thoroughly put to rest in Science, Nature, Discover and other peer-reviewed journals. Mapping the human genome drives home we are one species or "race."

Sent by Scott M. Kruse | 6:24 PM | 5-28-2008

I sympathize with the whites who get anxious when they have to interact with blacks. Now they know how many blacks feel when we have to socialize, work, and/or interact with whites. Standing silently by while some white person pontificates about crime, affirmative action, Senator Obama, etc. I was treated to the last example while out for drinks for the first time in several years! If I confronted the boor, I'd be a crazy black person.

Black people suffer disproportionately from a variety of health problems which I believe are tied to the stress of living in, if not an overtly racist society, a biased and anti-black culture. I know my pulse increases when I have to transact business w/ some white person who doesn't know me from Steve, but holds the power of saying 'yes' or 'no.' And I must concur with Fran: why must I treat whites with tender hands when my people continue to savaged by the likes of Don Imus. New Flash: Don Imus is a bigot and a sexist. Don Imus is not the best example pleadingthe "can't we all get along" case.

Sent by BlackStocking | 6:30 PM | 5-28-2008

What's the difference between one person avoiding Blacks because they're racist, and another person avoiding Blacks for fear of being perceived as racist? For practical purposes, there is no difference (especially for the person being avoided). But, for the purpose of this discussion, one person is racist; the other has "racist tendencies." The discomfort one might feel is from recognizing racist tendencies in their own behaviors and mental processes. When interacting with Blacks, these tendencies become noticeable and problematic (porch monkey is a derogatory term used against Blacks). When interacting with Whites, they are accepted as a form of "common sense," and slip by without notice (porch monkey is the term for a lazy person). Ignorance by way of youth is no excuse. Consider the words of PA Gov. Rangel who called attention to Obama being a Black man. He went on to say he was only "pointing out the obvious." If it's obvious Obama is Black, why point out the difference? Answer: To activate racism and racist tendencies. Ragel "marked" the difference. Racism and racist tendencies did the rest. I have no sympathy for Hillary. She condoned this despicable strategy when it worked in her favor, when it came to Rangel, Ferraro, and "hard-working White voters." Ridiculously, the Clinton's expected to get a "free pass" because of their history with the African American community. It's like a white guy thinking he can use the "N word" because his friends are black. I'm not saying the Clintons are racist. I am saying they've exhibited racist tendencies in their campaign strategy. Bill's claim that Barack is "playing the race card" is insult to injury.

Sent by Psmith | 7:26 PM | 5-28-2008

Well, I know that my wife just recently stopped calling me a racist just because I'm not voting for Obama (my wife's Kenyan; I'm Irish-American). She was kidding, of course --at least I think she was kidding.

One sociologist from Loyola Maramount University came to this conclusion: when Blacks and Whites start talking about race, the White man sits waiting to be blamed for something, and the Black man sits waiting for the White man to mess up. Given that kind of DMZ for conversations about race, silence may seem preferable.

Silence, however, is the last thing we need. After reading BlackStocking, all of which he says is true, I can't help but think, "You're right, but what can I do about that? And, if I did anything about that, would anything be any better?" I know I don't have enough power to fix all that ails BlackStocking (or my wife and son, for that matter), because one of the problems we White people have is the arrogance to believe what we know as normal is normal for everyone else.

I would like to see a forum (and I definitely don't know how this will work) where we can get to the bottom of racism within the safety zone of not either fearing accusation or requiring self-editting.

@BlackStocking, yeah, it sucks big time. But, at the same time, would you rather be White like me? Don't you see how great a blessing it's been, racism aisde, for you to be Black?

I know it's been a blessing for me to have my wife and son in my life, both of whom are Black. And I wouldn't have them any other way.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 7:28 PM | 5-28-2008

After several classes in cultural/racial sensitivity in graduate school I came to understand that only white people were being asked to become sensitive to others. I never heard anyone of color being asked to become to sensitive to me. Am I only the color of my skin? Or is this racial sensitivity anxiety really about our inability to break out of our narcissistic bubbles enough to really see others?

Sent by Maureen Mercury | 10:51 PM | 5-28-2008

>>Obama's supporters and the media have called these old school white liberals, who have done more for civil rights than any black people I know, racists and accused them of playing the race card at every corner.<<< Am I reading this statement correctly? Have done more?? I do not recall seeing a majority of White people being hosed down by White cops, swinging from trees or attacked by dogs. The old school White liberals have over inflated their hand in the civil rights fights of the 50's, 60s, and 70s. Suddenly every White person I meet has a parent or grandparent who was deeply involved in the movement. Please view the real pictures and newsreels from that era, not the revisionist history perpetuated by Hollywood. WE fought our fight. MLK and Malcolm X were not the only people to die for the cause; they weren't even the only leaders. Look, your grandma was probably standing behind the National Guard silently shaking her head in disagreement, before returning home. Racism was so prevalent because, as usual, those living in the middle of the two extremes remained quiet.

This attitude also prevails because Hillary somehow believes that signing a piece of paper in a plush office is more important than dying in a pool of blood and dirt on the street. A big part of the problem is not the "crazy Southern racist", it is the White liberal... not White people, but White liberals. I can sit down with a person of color, any color, and have a good conversation about the plight of dealing with the White liberal. White liberals believe that their mission in life is to uplift the poor colored people of the world and that notion in itself is just brimming with racism, just like the confederate flag on the back of a pickup.

We cannot have a good conversation on race in this country because White liberals will not admit that they harbor some racist notions too. Want to have a good conversation? Well let's start with why you cannot relate to me because I have a Masters degree and do not have a ghetto story.

Also I have to add that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson do not speak for any Black person under the age of 100. They only seem to speak for us because lazy media types immediately go to them when anything racial happens.

Sent by Eight | 8:29 AM | 5-29-2008

@Eight: "White liberals will not admit that they harbor some racist notions too."

This is not the first time this or a similar statement has been expressed in this most interesting discussion. It is also the most overtly prejudiced comment I have seen. In order to have an effective discussion on racism everyone is going to have to work to overcome their bigotry.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 11:29 AM | 5-29-2008

The word "race" should be banned when it is used in reference to human beings. Originally, as I understand it, the word was used in the process of breading cows.

In the following I will use the term "Black" apologetically to refer to people with dark skin because I don't know what else to do. The hyphenated term African-American does not seem right since it has been shown through DNA that most blacks originate from Europe, much to their chagrin I am sure. Besides how do you label a white person who was born in South Africa?

By this nonsensical hyphenated labeling I would be a German-American but I would never consider such a thing. I am proud to be just an American and I think that we would be better off we all did the same.

The unassailable fact is that all humans are the same. Sure we differ in the genetics that determine such properties as height, eye color, bone structure, and dare I say, skin color. What is amazing to me is that meaningless physical features, regardless of how noticeable, can be so divisive. Personally I am tired of hearing about and trying to deal with these so-called race issues.

I grew up partly in a city that was made up of numerous ethnic neighborhoods: Polish, Italian, Jewish and Black, etc. It seemed natural and I am sure that it was easier for folks to live in small communities where they had a common cultural heritage. The cultural diversity in my city was great and it was treat to enjoy the unique cuisine of each people group. The city even had folk festivals that brought all the people groups together under one roof.

Some of my formative years were spent in the Jim Crow south and it hurt to see the misery and suffering that the separation brought not only to the blacks but also to the American Indian.

So what has gone wrong?

I don't mind admitting that as hard as I try I am apprehensive when I walk down the street and am approached by a black usually bigger than me, but then again most people are, wearing the uniform: baggy pants with the crotch at the knee, long knee length t-shirt, a hat worn every way but straight and walking like someone in need hip or knee surgery. I am sure that the choice of attire and demeanor has been purposely orchestrated to intimidate. But why am I intimidated?

Perhaps it has to do with the rise in overall crime, the easy availability of guns and the fact that murder committed by black youth has reached epidemic proportions. Respect for human life has reached an all time low when you can get yourself killed by an act of so-called "disrespect" like looking at them the wrong way or saying the wrong thing. Of course you have no way of knowing what that wrong would be.

Finally, a comment on the election. This election season has been particularly troubling in part because the candidates insist on going from people group to people group in an appeal to their special interests and for photo-ops in ethnic eateries to give the false impression that they are "one of us". The candidates are not "one of us" no matter how hard they try make us believe it. They need instead to focus on the issues that are of concern to us all. As a WASP I should feel left out.

The injection of or rather the distraction caused by a couple of radical preachers has been a revelation. The divisive rhetoric and vitriol coming from pulpits on both sides of the racial divide is no way to bring the peace that religion is supposed to offer. With their kind of talk we should not be surprised that we are going down the proverbial rat hole.

Sent by Bob | 2:11 PM | 5-29-2008

It may go without saying, but I'll say it anyway - how many people reading here today have read the remarks with an eye to trying to guess the race of the person writing them? I have, and time and again been surprised to have gotten it wrong - its not the wording, its not the level of emotion, its not even in the content because I've seen in a very small cross-section of writings everything from gender to stereotypes appear and disappear. I could have sworn a white was writing to denounce the tendencies of blacks to be non-inclusive only find the reverse was at work. I'm pretty sure there is a lesson in this. My dad was linguistically challenged - he came from New Joisey and he went through elocution classes to remove that frame of reference to his life. You can't do that with skin color, except when no-one can see you. What better medium that the net to chat and see what works?

If you think about it, how many people really believe that politics or a politician is going to solve a racial divide, real or imagined may it be? A race card is not much of a way to get votes unless we are still the mob that Shakespeare wrote of in Julius Caesar. And one last thing - are you sure you know my race? And if you don't - why not?

Sent by JS | 4:36 PM | 5-29-2008

I am not afraid of seeming racist because I don't feel that I am! The older I get (I'm 64), the more experience I have with all sorts and colors of people, the more ease I have with them -- I feel this is the only way to do it! I'm a "person of pallor" (thank you Scott K.!), a Jew (you may certainly call me that), hoping to gain wisdom and tolerance.

Sent by Linda Soha | 5:28 PM | 5-29-2008

There seems to be an underlying assumption in this disdcussion that racism is a black and white issue, where the blacks are the discriminated by the whites. But where does such a narrow definition of racism leave the rest of us (Asians, Hispanics, etc)? Once again, we are left out of the racial debate, as if somehow (perhaps because we're mostly recent immigrants)we don't deserve to be included. And why is the discussion so one-directional? As an Asian-American living in an incredibly diverse urban setting, I have witnessed racism from all directions, from all different groups. Racism in America is not something that whites to do blacks. Racism in America is something that all racial/ethnic groups participate in as both transgressors and as victims. We really need to expand the dialogue to be more inclusive and more honest.

Sent by Liz Lee | 5:47 PM | 5-29-2008

My white male colleagues are UBER cautious of saying the wrong thing...whether it be sexist or racial comments, so a lot of time he just doesn't speak for fear that people will take his words out of context. He has no protection.

On the other hand it's not just discussion that makes a difference. White people are usually in a position of privilege within social spaces in the United States. It is this position that creates the anxiety, not whether or not they will be perceived as racist.

Tim Wise speaks on white privilege here:

Part 1

Part 2

Sent by Nettie B. | 10:07 AM | 5-31-2008

Let's stop pretending that race or racism is primarily an invention created by one particular group of people. How can we ever think of ending racism in this melting pot nation of ours while racism thrives in such countries as Zimbabwe and India. How many Afro-Americans would trade places with an Indian untouchable?
One particular trend in this country concerns me deeply and that is the so-called white studies/white privilege movement in our colleges/universities and various anti-racist bloggers. Professors Noel Ignatiev and David Roediger claim that the white race is a mere invention while others insist that whites are responsible for everything from sexism to genocide. And, a blog called: "Anti Racist Parent" has little to do with being against racism but, prefers instead, to focus on which group is truly oppressed!
Some of you may recall when MSNBC aired "meeting David Wilson" in April 2008. Ever wonder what happened to that true dialogue of race? Why, nothing at all, because there are to many people who prefer revenge and discord to honesty and integrity. By the way it's time for so called people of color to understand that they to play a role in this {racism} game.

Sent by Toby | 10:05 PM | 6-15-2008

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from