"Racist" accusation: what should I do about it?

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 3, 2003
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North Carolina
Someone called me a "racist" in the comments section because of this post in my blog. Basically, I indicated that I was surprised that there was less drug use among black junior high schoolers than whites, and got two rather obnoxious comments in response.

So what do you think? Does this mean I'm a racist? Here's how I responded there:

Clearly this just reflects my ignorance on the subject. I’m glad to have it corrected.

If I had to venture a guess, I’d say my false impression might have been fueled by mainstream media reporting on drug use, but it’d still be a guess.
Am I kidding myself? Was my original observation racist? If so, what should I do about it?

And a second question... This is supposed to be a professional blog, and in my view the comments really border on spam. I don't generally like to censor comments, but this sort of thing really bugs me. Should I just delete them?
 

dubbz

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2003
2,284
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Alta, Norway
wordmunger said:
Am I kidding myself? Was my original observation racist? If so, what should I do about it?
It might have helped if you also wrote, in your blog post, why you were surprised. By itself, I can see how the comment it could be perceived as racist.
 

eva01

macrumors 601
Feb 22, 2005
4,714
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Gah! Plymouth
if you were racist you would have said white people do more drugs than black people because the black kids in high school can't afford drugs.

But if i say that i would be speaking the truth for my area.

just ignore it, things like that happen oh well, ignore the comments and just say you made a mistake
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,817
37
Andover, MA
I don't think that your intent was at all racist.

However, "it was a surprise to me that black 8th graders had a lower incidence of substance use than whites, across the board" might need more explanation as to why it was a surprise/why you were previously biased.

Since drug use is a negative, substitute some other things:

"It was a surprise to me that black 8th graders had a lower incidence of teen pregnancy than whites, across the board."
"It was a surprise to me that black 8th graders had higher test scores than whites, across the board."
See where those would need an explanation?
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,472
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visiting from downstream
wordmunger said:
Someone called me a "racist" in the comments section because of this post in my blog. Basically, I indicated that I was surprised that there was less drug use among black junior high schoolers than whites, and got two rather obnoxious comments in response.

So what do you think? Does this mean I'm a racist? Here's how I responded there:



Am I kidding myself? Was my original observation racist? If so, what should I do about it?

And a second question... This is supposed to be a professional blog, and in my view the comments really border on spam. I don't generally like to censor comments, but this sort of thing really bugs me. Should I just delete them?
My opinions:

As I read what you wrote, my understanding is that you had a preconceived notion that blacks of that age group would have a higher incidence of drug use than whites, but you found that the facts don't bear that out. This does not make you a RACIST; it makes you a person who had a preconceived notion that turned out to be incorrect. People throw out the "R" word because either (1) they're idiots, (2) they're trying to pick a fight, (3) they have a different viewpoint than you do and they're labelling you, or (4) you really ARE a racist. Since I don't think (4) is the case, I think you can safely ignore comments that don't show any inclination of explaining themselves.

As to deleting comments, sure, why not? I'd especially delete the "Are you racist or somethin?" comment, since it's inflammatory and you don't want to get in an argument with someone who can't even spell "something" correctly. Perhaps give them a chance to explain themselves, but if they just rang and ran, then I'd redact those comments.
 

watcher2001

macrumors 6502a
I don;t think that comment makes you appear to be racist at all. I tend to agree that the american media, movies and episodic TV included, not just the news. tends to paint the picture that the drug problems are with the young black. I personally do not believe this to be true. Most of the drug use in my area comes from
1: Poor whites : Crystal Meth
2: Middle class (all races) Marijuana.

Of course I live in the midwest and we, as far as I know, do not have the crack problem that is so prominently displayed in the media.

I would not worry about it all.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,652
123
Just ignore it, don't censor it.

Use it as an reminder to honestly re-examine your own attitudes... virtually all of us are prone to prejudiced thinking about various groups in society, myself included, although racism is not my habitual prejudice.
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,817
37
Andover, MA
clayj said:
As I read what you wrote, my understanding is that you had a preconceived notion that blacks of that age group would have a higher incidence of drug use than whites, but you found that the facts don't bear that out. This does not make you a RACIST; it makes you a person who had a preconceived notion that turned out to be incorrect.
So what makes someone a racist? Is it not a set of preconceived notions that one group is inferior to another based solely upon race?

I do not think - at all - that wordmunger is even vaguely racist... but comments like that are, or at least it isn't a stretch to perceive them as such without further explanation.
 

stonyc

macrumors 65816
Feb 15, 2005
1,257
1
Michigan
I wouldn't necessarily say that your statement was racist, but I could see how someone might see it that way, especially since you did not qualify -why- you were surprised at those statistics.

Going off of what eva said, it all kind of depends on the context in which your statement can be understood. Were you surprised because you had another study that showed higher incidence of substance in African-Americans in an older population? Basically, by not explaining why you were surprised, you left that statement open to the reader's interpretation (correct or not).
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 3, 2003
5,125
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North Carolina
jsw said:
I don't think that your intent was at all racist.

However, "it was a surprise to me that black 8th graders had a lower incidence of substance use than whites, across the board" might need more explanation as to why it was a surprise/why you were previously biased.
I did explain it, in the comments, as probably related to main stream media portrayals. Do you think I should also edit the original post? And how is the second "are you a racist" comment justified?
 

ohcrap

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2005
548
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If someone calls me a racist, I just look at them, figure out what race they are, and shout every according racial slur I can at them. My logic: If someone is dumb enough to call someone else a racist before taking the time to actually comprehend just what was said, odds are it won't be easy (or worth it) to convince them otherwise beyond that point... and it's much more fun to piss them off than to exhaust myself in trying to change their minds about me.

Besides, if someone wants to think I'm a racist, that's fine with me. Think whatever you want about me, I know the truth and so does God, what else matters?
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,817
37
Andover, MA
wordmunger said:
I did explain it, in the comments, as probably related to main stream media portrayals. Do you think I should also edit the original post? And how is the second "are you a racist" comment justified?
I'm sure the "Are you a racist or somethin?" comment is because of the same quote mentioned by memer.

If it were me? Dunno. I'd probably edit the original simply because it does, upon further thought, warrant some correction (in my opinion). Plus it would help prevent future comments. Then I'd edit my replies to the comments to indicate that I'd edited the original.

Of course, it isn't me, I don't know how many people read your blog or would notice/care about that one sentence, etc. And, really, it's your blog and your thoughts. If you feel the original is true to your feelings, leave it.
 

jane doe

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2004
315
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If its not true

If its not true don't bother..... The only people that get bothered by being called racist are people that are not racist. If someone does not like black people (or white) and someone calls them racist, they usually will confess (sometimes proudly).

Thats the reason the race card is played so much, you have someone who does not want to do something (hire someone, sell to someone or let someone get off the hook) So the first thing you do is drop the race card and the person will usually cave in because they don't want others to think they are racist.

I've been called racist many times because I speak the truth about poverty and government handouts. Usually people don't even realize that I did not mention race when I speak about these things... But as always, someone calls me a racist.

I get a kick out of it now because it shows how truly uneducated some people are.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 3, 2003
5,125
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North Carolina
jsw said:
So what makes someone a racist? Is it not a set of preconceived notions that one group is inferior to another based solely upon race?
I'd agree with that definition. But is it racist to say that a higher proportion of blacks live in poverty in America than whites? No, because it's a true statement.

So if it turned out to be true that more black kids used drugs than whites, then saying that wouldn't be racist either. (And the truth -- that more whites use drugs than blacks -- is also not a racist statement by itself)

My original statement, of course, is ambiguous, but I did explain why I was surprised in the comments. Perhaps, since my statement rose out of my own ignorance, it could be said to be racist. After all, haven't we all heard that racism is the product of ignorance? OTOH, I was happy to have my ignorance corrected, and I think a true racist would maintain his/her views despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
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This thread reminds of that hilarious 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' episode in the first season about Affirmative Action.

You can get yourself tied up in complete knots about this... disproving allegations over one small comment.
 

Toreador93

macrumors regular
Sep 14, 2003
190
0
I really dislike those people. They're probably just trying to make up for their past racism. Or maybe they are being racist by thinking all whites (assuming that's what you are) are racist.

I'm paraphrasing, but unemployment for whites is around 5-6%, while for blacks and hispanics, unemployment ranges from 12-20%. Am I racist? Hell no. It's called statistical data.

If you ever take a sociology class, you learn that cops are more prone to arrest blacks than whites, mostly with drug charges. With that information (yes, it's a statistical fact), one might assume as you did. You're surprised because the information is contrary to other things you've heard or read. This issue alone has NOTHING to do with racism.

Being of Polack, WOP, and Kraut decent, I've heard my fair share of jokes. People really need to loosen up, and not get offended at EVERYTHING a person says. Americans whine too much.
:p
 

darkwing

macrumors 65816
Jan 6, 2004
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I made the same assertion in my black criminal studies class. I said I was surprised to find the Justice Dept stats regarding drug use to show a pretty even distribution among the races, when I had always assumed blacks used them more. I said this was probably due to mainstream media, and that I have learned my lesson.

I was a racist anyway. Go figure!

I find in general that anyone who screams racism is intellectually lacking. Face it, it's just words. If we can't speak our mind how can we learn anything?
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,951
3
Gone but not forgotten.
wordmunger said:
I did explain it, in the comments, as probably related to main stream media portrayals. Do you think I should also edit the original post? And how is the second "are you a racist" comment justified?
I'm not sure why it should surprise you that whites were more likely to be abusers. Suburbia breeds abuse. The current crop of parents pay for it by handing out money, instead of attention, to their children.

I think the "are you a racist?" comment would not have happened had you further explained about the mainstream media potrayals.

Leaving all of it there would be much better than changing or deleting it.
 

alex_ant

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2002
2,473
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All up in your bidness
As a progressive and informed citizen of the United States, I warmly accept all peoples and cultures, from wherever they may originate, regardless of their heritage, gender, or skin color. I like to think that I'm a citizen of a country that encourages diversity and tolerance for all peoples and cultures. If ANYONE called you racist, it must be true. That's how it works here, you worthless, ****-eating racist sow. Go back to Alabama you toothless, intolerant, inbred racist hick.

:D
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,472
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visiting from downstream
jsw said:
So what makes someone a racist? Is it not a set of preconceived notions that one group is inferior to another based solely upon race?
No, it takes more than that... I can have an incorrect preconceived notion about the quality of a Honda automobile without it being said that I hate or dislike Hondas.

A racist won't change their opinion even if confronted by facts that are contrary to their position. They hate just because.
 

stonyc

macrumors 65816
Feb 15, 2005
1,257
1
Michigan
clayj said:
No, it takes more than that... I can have an incorrect preconceived notion about the quality of a Honda automobile without it being said that I hate or dislike Hondas.

A racist won't change their opinion even if confronted by facts that are contrary to their position. They hate just because.
That second sentence about sums it up..
 

jane doe

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Feb 18, 2004
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It's also been my experience that those who call others racist, are the ones that are racist.
 

Josh

macrumors 68000
Mar 4, 2004
1,640
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State College, PA
I don't know....expecting some sort of negative circumstance from one race in particular could easily be seen as racist.

I can see how one might see that as racist, but I can also see that you may not have intended it to be so. And being mildly familiar with your posts here, I'm leaning towards the latter.

Racism causes a lot of confusion, and there are just too many fuzzy lines.

For example: Black person calls another black person the "n" word and it's acceptable.

Any other race using the 'n' word and people flip out.

I really can't help but wonder: What is more racist than allowing one race to do or say something, while another race may not do or say the same thing with the same acceptabilty?

If it's not acceptable for all races to use a certain word, it shouldn't be acceptable for any race to use it.

Similarly, I find it interesting that, in Kanye West's song 'Gold Digger', he has the phrase: "...leave you for a white girl."

While I don't believe that phrase is in any way racist, have a white guy sing, "...leave you for a black girl" and watch the public go nuts and scream racism (especially the black population).

It's ok for a black guy to say 'leave you for a white girl' but I gaurantee people would be outraged if a white guy sung 'leave you for a black girl'.

That kind of differing acceptability is what keeps racism alive. If it's unacceptable for one race, it should be seen the same for all others.
 

jane doe

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2004
315
0
Josh said:
I don't know....expecting some sort of negative circumstance from one race in particular could easily be seen as racist.

I can see how one might see that as racist, but I can also see that you may not have intended it to be so. And being mildly familiar with your posts here, I'm leaning towards the latter.

Racism causes a lot of confusion, and there are just too many fuzzy lines.

For example: Black person calls another black person the "n" word and it's acceptable.

Any other race using the 'n' word and people flip out.

I really can't help but wonder: What is more racist than allowing one race to do or say something, while another race may not do or say the same thing with the same acceptabilty?

If it's not acceptable for all races to use a certain word, it shouldn't be acceptable for any race to use it.

Similarly, I find it interesting that, in Kanye West's song 'Gold Digger', he has the phrase: "...leave you for a white girl."

While I don't believe that phrase is in any way racist, have a white guy sing, "...leave you for a black girl" and watch the public go nuts and scream racism (especially the black population).

It's ok for a black guy to say 'leave you for a white girl' but I gaurantee people would be outraged if a white guy sung 'leave you for a black girl'.

That kind of differing acceptability is what keeps racism alive. If it's unacceptable for one race, it should be seen the same for all others.
I agree, this goes to what I said above
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,817
37
Andover, MA
clayj said:
No, it takes more than that... I can have an incorrect preconceived notion about the quality of a Honda automobile without it being said that I hate or dislike Hondas.

A racist won't change their opinion even if confronted by facts that are contrary to their position. They hate just because.
According to my handy-dandy Mac dictionary:
racism: noun
  • the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
  • prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief : a program to combat racism.
You're using the second definition, I'm using the first.