American Politics

Spoiler Alert: I’m Racist

All at once, we can be both mortified and introspective about everything the President of the United States says. Granted, it is unlikely the latter necessarily follows the former but I’ve managed to embrace my personal shortcomings in overthinking absolutely everything. Which led me to the realization that I’m a racist. 

Let’s back it up a bit. Last week Donald Trump tweeted:

So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very hapy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

I, and many others, immediately took this for racist sentiment. It was easy. As it turned out, the Congresswomen he was referring to were all born in the United States. Why would one assume they were “originally” from another country? The only logical explanation is that those to whom he was referring are not white. 

Not to be outdone, Kellyann Conway pushed the boundaries of civil discourse during a press conference by asking a reporter what his ethnicity was. To his credit he responded “Why is that relevant?” And it turned out he was Jewish which now, apparently, means that Conway is an Anti-Semite. 

But wait, I thought, it’s not as if Jewish people are obviously Jewish. And I thought it was a stretch to call her an Anti-Semite just because it was discovered after the fact that the reporter was Jewish.

In case it’s not obvious, I will spell it out; I agreed that Trump’s comments were racist even though it was unlikely he knew before making the comments that the Congresswomen were born in the United States. Why? Because he, widely believed to be racist, was referring to women of colour. Why is it a stretch, in my mind, to call Conway an Anti-Semite, even though it was unlikely she knew he was Jewish? Because she, personal beliefs unknown, was asking a white person.

This led me to the uncomfortable conclusion that either a) Trump’s comments were not racist or b) I’m racist too.

I know a) is false. F*ck.  

Contrary to what normal people would do, which is defend their own beliefs about themselves by taking the position that Trump’s comments were not racist, I must accept that I, too, am racist.

Now certainly there is a difference between my conduct and someone who is overtly trying to promote fear or hate but it shouldn’t be dismissed just because it was or is unintentional. If anything, my lack of intention can be just as harmful because it was unacknowledged. Remember, ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance.

While I am embarrassed of this fact, I admit I take some perverse pleasure in acknowledging this bias that obviously exists in my world view. Not because I am proud of it. Instead, I have identified a problem I would like to solve.

I don’t know what to do next, to be honest, but as a rabid over-thinker, I have faith that I will think of something…. or that this brutally honest mea culpa will receive some healthy recommendations. 

This post contains both fact and self-diagnosis. 

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean


Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts.