I'm not a racist

I just make comments as if I might be one. See links to video.
Associated Press
May 24, 2013

It's almost a cliche. First, someone talking about blacks makes reference to fried chicken, watermelon, monkeys or dogs — or even uses the indefensible N-word. Then, along with the inevitable apology, comes the kicker: I'm not racist.

The latest denial is from golfer Sergio Garcia. Asked a joking question about having dinner with his adversary Tiger Woods, Garcia said: "We will serve fried chicken." He later apologized for what he called a "silly remark," then added, "but in no way was the comment meant in a racist manner."

Perhaps the Spanish-born Garcia was unaware that chicken stereotypes have been used for at least a century to denigrate African-Americans. Maybe he was unaware of attitudes buried in his subconscious mind. As the backlash increased, Garcia did apologize further, calling his remark "totally stupid and out of place."

But by then, he had secured a place on the lengthy roll of people who have offered justifications for statements widely considered offensive.

How can words so hurtful be so easily brushed off? And what does the word "racist" even mean if it doesn't encompass people who use racial slurs?

"I think it's human nature that if you're a racist, you don't want to admit it," says conservative radio host Mike Gallagher.

"If Tiger said, 'Let's serve tacos at dinner with Garcia,' the world would go crazy," Gallagher said. "When a bigot tells a bigoted joke and they get called out on it, the pattern is, I'll say I'm sorry and maybe it will blow over."

The pattern is unmistakable. Said golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, after joking that Woods shouldn't order fried chicken for the Masters champions' dinner: The comments were "misconstrued." Said comedian Michael Richards, after responding to a black heckler with a lynching reference and the N-word: "I'm not a racist." Said actor Mel Gibson, after claiming that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world: "I'm not a bigot."

The phenomenon has been even more pronounced since Barack Obama became America's first black president:

— Montana's chief federal judge resigned after emailing a joke in which a young Obama asks why he is black and his mother is white. The punch line involved a dog. "Although (the joke) is racist, I'm not that way, never have been," Judge Richard Cebull said.

— After drawing national attention for selling an anti-Obama bumper sticker that said "Don't Re-Nig in 2012," creator Paula Smith of Hinesville, Georgia insisted that neither she nor the sticker were racist. She called the uproar "amazing and entertaining."

— New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was pilloried for sending an email labeled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal" that showed an African tribesman dancing. His response: "I'm not a racist. I'm proud to have created jobs for hundreds of people of every color and ethnicity."

— Arizona radio host Barbara Espinosa said she "voted for the white guy" and called Obama a monkey. Asked if that was offensive, she replied, "I'm anything but racist."

Clay Routledge, a social psychology professor at North Dakota State University who studies the ways people defend themselves against psychological threats, said they often engage in "self-deception": They may think they're a good athlete, for example, or have an outgoing personality — or do not have racial biases.

"People have narratives about themselves, self concepts, a whole host of attitudes that they want to think about themselves," said Routledge. "A lot of times they match well, but sometimes they don't."

Other psychologists go further. They blame "implicit bias" — unconscious attitudes based on the way racial groups are commonly portrayed in the public space.

Using scientific studies that measure how quickly people associate words like "black" with "criminal" or "Asian-American" with "foreign," these researchers conclude that many people — of all backgrounds, not just white people — are unaware of their own racial biases.

Phillip Atiba Goff, a UCLA social psychology professor, says this may be what happened with Garcia: "He was trying to be funny. In the moment, especially if you're nervous and not thinking, stereotypes come to mind very quickly."

Goff emphasizes that having an unconscious bias does not mean someone is a racist — it means he or she is a human being who has absorbed ubiquitous information.

So, can a person say something racist but not BE a racist? Might people who make racist statements be telling the truth when they say they are not racist?

Goff says it depends on the individual — but that the rush to brand people as racist obscures the bigger issue of the harm caused by their statements.

"Let's have a conversation about why (Garcia) said it in the first place, and why these moments seem to come up so much," Goff said. "We should be able to say, 'You know what, that was one of those implicit bias moments.'"

Whatever they are called, such moments come up every day for Logan Smith, a journalist who runs the Twitter feed YesYoureRacist. He started about eight months ago, after noticing a plethora of tweets starting with "I'm not racist, but."

Some of his favorite examples: "I'm not racist but having a black president is just not smart," ''I'm not racist but black people scare me," and "I'm not racist but I can see where Hitler was coming from."

He said most of the tweets seem to come from teenagers: "They didn't grow up seeing 'coloreds only' water fountains, or civil rights marches in the papers, or apartheid on TV, and as a result, many of them simply don't understand what racism means," Smith said via email.

"They think that unless they're actually lynching a black person or something, they're not racist," Smith said, "because they don't understand things like institutionalized racism or inferiorization, and the historical context of their statement."

Many might not know the ugly history of chicken and black stereotypes.

In the early 1900s, periodicals and postcards commonly displayed images of black people as grotesque, simple-minded "coons" obsessed with chicken and watermelon. From the 1920s to the 1950s, a three-restaurant chain of Coon Chicken Inns was popular around Salt Lake City, Seattle and Portland.

So when people associate black folks with chicken, the past often rushes into the present — as in a famous routine by the black comedian Dave Chappelle.

"A lot of black people can relate to this. Have you ever had something happen that was so racist, that you didn't even get mad?" Chappelle said.

He then tells a story about walking into a restaurant, contemplating his order with the counterman, and "before I even finish my sentence he says, 'The chicken!'"

"All these years I thought I liked chicken 'cause it was delicious," Chappelle said. "Turns out I'm genetically predisposed to liking chicken!"

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Jesse Washington covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. He can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jessewash... or jwashington(at)ap.org.

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Online:

Mike Gallagher: Link
Logan Smith: Link
Implicit Association Test: Link
Dave Chappelle: Link

Comments

The Big Dog's back

Gee, Who'd a thunk that you would agree with vicarious?

Put America 1st

LMAOO SamAdams I would not be surprise if you was Vicarious. As one of the ignorant bigot that hides behind his computer spewing BS and racial comments on SR (afterall Sandusky Register allows it) who is REALLY surprise you agree with his uneducate rant?!

SuspectBlackMale

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

The Big Dog's back

Why tell you. You will just deny it anyways.

kURTje

Mick, Kraut, Hunky, Wop, etc. Who cares? Hate is hate. Good & bad in any group. Its that E-z.

vicariouslyAlive

No, hate is not hate, and you proved a very valid point. You found it not to be a problem to say the derogatory terms that you chose to put down, but one can't help but notice that you seemed to have dodged the n-bomb.... so in your eyes, judgeing by what you put down, you have to respect the the limitations about what you are and aren't allowed to say about black people but feel no remorse for what names a white person from any country is called.... funny how that works...

Maggdi

We all just need to listen to those who are telling us, very sternly... for our own good:

Don't even try to rock the boat!( Damn Tea baggers >:(... It might go VERY badly for you if you do.... ( stupid Tea Baggers :o)....

That way we can all be happy...

obscenity

touchy subject.

I feel the racist comments about the baby being stabbed in sandusky are appalling.

I feel the comments about fried chicken, in this case were simply humor and not meant as hurtful.

Ridiculous. Common sense is not so common these days.

deertracker

I guess common sense is not that common. If it was humor why not say sushi or scalloped potatoes? There is a reason he said fried chicken! Wise up!

Charger85

Can't we all just say the N word without fear of retribution or censorship? This racist website will moderate me for saying the N word, but what if I say honky? or honky honky? or cracker? or caulkie? or gringo? or hick? or hillbilly? or redneck? or opie? Will they moderate me then?

mrite

Apparently not.

Charger85

these racist arseholes

Maggdi

Dude!?! You forgot Ginger and Pinky...
But if you are labeled by our intellectual/moral superiors, due to your caucasian heritage, as the 'oppressor', no holds are barred...

SuspectBlackMale

GREAT POST. Just PROVES that the BIGOTED MODERATORS ENDORSE ALL RACISM that is not directed at BLACKS.

Too bad the Register doesn't pick moderators with enough ethics or integrity to put aside the personal beliefs when deleting posts

Looks like the moderators who leave up all the anti-white racism are really the ignorant bigots

SuspectBlackMale

NOPE. Per the REGISTER MODERATORS only ANTI-WHITE RACISM is not only allowed but ENCOURAGED. Just a shame when disgusting liberal bigots think that THEIR BRAND (REGISTER-ENDORSED) ANTI-WHITE RACISM is the GOOD KIND

Moderators only have to look as far as the CLOSEST MIRROR to FIND A RACIST, INTOLERANT BIGOT

vicariouslyAlive

Its all in the interest of fairness, and I get that, I really do. You just can't go around and try to make things equal on the disparaging end and expect to keep the perks... it doesn't work like that.

Most of the anger these days between races isn't even derived from the original source anymore, wu h was slavery and the way people of many races were treated throughout history... most of the resentment that turns into anger is derived from the special treatment and privledges some races get over others. This kind of stuff happens within races... rich white neighborhoods that rub shoulders with poor white neighborhoods.... that sort of thing... but to create a racially exclusive club and then turn around and call other races racist is blatantly absurd...

I totally agree that most clubs are created out of a common interest, but those clubs rarely hold any exclusions at all, let alone hold any exclusions based on the color of another's skin... I just find it hard to swallow how the NAACP can condemn any group at all about their exclusivity when their group was founded to fight the very exclusions that they promote...

I'm proud to be of mixed races. I embrace Latin holidays as well as the Anglo Saxon ones... but I don't see, nor feel the need for, a Latin american history month...

We will never get past the shirt and anger that the differences the people of the past put into the peace topic if we continue to hold any sort of differences in this day and age. As long as any race recieves any privledges based only on the color of their skin that isn't equally offered to all races from said group we will see disenfion between the people.

In order for us to achieve MLK's of one equal nation we must do away with not only the disparaging aspects between the people of any color, but also do away with the vary causes of inequality themselves.

I'm not angry that black people have BET or jet magazine, but I am angry that their elevated level of hypocrisy tells them that's its ok for them to do it and condemn any other race for doing the same... they're just as racist as they claim not to be... and that hypocrisy is what gets t me the most...

santown419

Why is it you seem to blame racism on blacks? Black history month is also called irish american month. Why do we need a christmas , or why is hanukka shoved down our throats. Whenever it comes for anything we have its always a problem. Why is it you hate the naacp but you dont call out la raza which the naacp does many things with. By your past post you always seem to have a resentmant against blacks.

SuspectBlackMale

I resent the FACT that 12% of the US population, BLACKS, commits 50% of all MURDERS and 50% of all VIOLENT CRIME

donutshopguy

We are all so worried about being political correct with our words. We went through a time when American Indians were sensitive about the use possible derogatory words in regards to mascot names.

But, no one opposed the use of chief. As in police chief and fire chief.

We are a little out of control about words and there possible hidden meaning.

The Big Dog's back

There's a big difference between a "mascot" and the head of something.

deertracker

Agreed!

Put America 1st

Where do people come up with these poor analogies???? lol Man I am cracking up!

obscenity

Here's a classic video, TURN IT UP! "Fry That Chicken". I promise you will like it and start singing along! I've been a fan oh Ms. Peachez for years. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r...

kURTje

vicar/alive you helped keep my post up. You should explain that to S.R. They've repeatedly taken my stuff down. "No man can serve 2masters. He will love one and hate the other." Maybe its cause the moon in full.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

The big dog is rasist

The Big Dog's back

I am? In what way?

deertracker

Some of you just don't get it. It is not necessarily the word, it is the context the word is used in. The word "n*gger" is only racist if you intend it to be. Technically it is just slang for "negro" which means black. I personally believe that regardless of your intent with any racist intent from any word, it does not reflect on me, but it does you. All black people and some of my white friends use the word as a term of endearment. Calling anyone a racist term does not mean that is who that person is!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Agreed, context is everything and any language use only reflects on the user. I am not cowed, impressed, offended, nor awed by a string of profanities; it saddens me that apparently that person can only communicate when every other word is vulgar. I also don't get riled up on behalf of people when dumb things are said about others, but in the context of the store I do keep an ear open for such things. After all, it is ok when one geek calls another a "n00b" or my favorite, a "mouthbreathing grognard". A "neckbeard" is fine, too.

Minuteman

Too many are thriving from the continuance of "racism". The only way to eliminate the problem is to remove all reference to "race". Race is a man made label, apparently skin color defines race, but hair color, origin, and lineage don't. Why? We were taught early on that skin color is only skin deep. So why the division? The same old arguments continue, after 50 years or so, with no headway made in the discussion. We have "race" as the theme in a few high visibility trials going on now, same as OJ, they are stoking the racism fires hoping for a bigger controversy. To remove all reference to skin color, problems will arise. First, those people making a living off of "race" issues will fight tooth and nail to keep "racism" alive. Either monetary gain or power over the other "races" has them locked into a never ending problem. It will always be a problem because it is based on a lie, there is no foundation holding up the belief that color of skin makes you different from someone who has a different skin color. However, reality says it's like the government or IRS, it will not go away. Especially when people are enjoying the fight beteween "races".

vicariouslyAlive

Its not a black against white against Mexican thing. Its a total level of equality thing. As long as any group has lrivledges based on the color of their skin it's just as racist as and segregative as any other racist act. Flat out.

I used the NAACP as the exams because it's the most widely known.

It's simple logic here folks not quantum mechanics.... unfair treatment based on the color of ones skin, whether positive or negative is still racieism.

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