Racists Don't Like Being Called Racists
Julian Bond | 5/23/2013, 8:11 a.m.
Not the ugly racist signs and placards displayed at Tea Party rallies, not the shouts of the "n" word aimed at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, not the spittle hurled at civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, not the racists expelled from the Tea Party for their venom, not the association of many members with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a lineal descendant of the White Citizen Council, not the anti-gay slurs aimed at former Congressman Barney Frank (d-Mass.), not the members whose racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia should be an embarrassment – not all or any of this could get them to acknowledge the label "racist."
My Black correspondents even claimed that their race prohibited them from being racists, as if skin color was a proscription against ignorance. And many of my presumably non-Black correspondents accused me of being a racist, so my race apparently offered me no protection from this evil.
What is the lesson here?
That the label "racist" has become so toxic almost everyone rejects it? That the toxicity makes the label unacceptable but its actual practice is still tolerable for many?
Or that it is a defense against itself? As the relative-I-try-not-to-claim wrote, "I don't know any white people who hate blacks like you advocate blacks should hate whites."
Or only that while the United States has made much progress in race relations, we still have a long, long way to go?
Julian Bond is Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP and a Professor at American University in Washington.