As with many topics, I don’t go looking to beat the drum how many people are wrong, but I do rather lie in wait around the accusation that America is a particularly racist, or even most-racist nation in the world. People are stunned, angered, shocked to have the idea even challenged. Their claim is ludicrous, among the least-reflective things a person might say, yet I do have clear understanding how people might get to that idea. The key is in that word reflective. If one simply follows the prevailing news and conversation, I don’t see how one could come to any other conclusion. America leads the world in news stories about racism. We are probably well up there in incidents of racism as well, partly because there are 330M of us. The Chinese may rack up bigger numbers, which we seldom hear about, of racist incidents against the Uighurs, but in most of their territory there aren’t any incidents of clear racism at all. Because there’s only one race there. Stay tuned.
But why so many stories of racism? Real stories, not made up.
It is a relatively simple exercise to stand back and say “compared to whom?” but it is difficult because it is not natural to most of us. Just because something is simple does not mean it is easy. Prayer for one’s personal enemies, for example. Dieting and exercising would be another. Once one can get to the second half of that sentence and say “America is a racist country…compared to whom?” the ground suddenly changes. In one simple sense, America is a racist country. We have racist comments, racist incidents, and racist attitudes all over the place, all the time. Yet there is a simple reason for that, and it’s not just because we have horrible white people here.
If we are going to measure countries in terms of how racist they are, I propose we start by asking “Do they actually have different races there?” Okay, that just changed the whole discussion completely, didn’t it? Before looking at my examples, consider your own. Take your time.