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Racism for White People 101: A Crash Course in How Your Black Friend Doesn't Absolve You of Your Racism

Being from one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in MN led me to develop a mentality that was as destructive as my environment.

The Basics of Racism

The problem with white children learning about racism from public education is that the school curriculum and the western concept of education as a whole was created by and for white people.

Therefore, school is a white supremacist institution. As such, our society has generation after generation of children growing into adults who will do anything to keep from being called racist except not be racist. We use every tactic and excuse in the book.

From "I have friends that are Black" to the ridiculous and fallacious concept of "reverse racism" to justify, deny, and deflect our racist proclivities.

Clarifying Racism

One of the most misunderstood aspects of racism is that it is both durable and dynamic. Racism adjusts itself to be compatible with the times. This is because, contrary to popular white belief, racism is not based on the idea of a love/hate paradigm. That's just an expression of it. One of the many different expressions of it.

Racism doesn't just look like white hoods and burning crosses because racism doesn't just target skin color, it also targets culture. It can just as easily be expressed by fetishizing Black bodies and putting dreadlocks in our hair.

White people who exclusively date people of another race are demonstrating yet another latent form of racism. They've either reduced the value of their preferred counterpart down to a sexual fetish or they're using them to try and disprove their own racism. In either instance, the humanity and equal status of the other race are dissolved.

In most cases, our motives are so ingrained and subconscious that we're bereft of the realization that we even do this. Most people who are racist have no idea that they're racist. The genocidal nature of overt racism is actually the minority of racists.

These days, most white people are so pressed to prove we aren't racist that our efforts to do so only end up highlighting our racism. Racism is, in fact, based on the idea of an inferior/superior paradigm. However, most of us fail to understand that you can love a dog and still treat it like it's inferior to you. Our racism is just as predominant and axiomatic in the white savior complex as it is in lynching black men.

White Fragility

Unfortunately, instead of attempting to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what racism is, we tend to focus more on our own feelings that arise when we're confronted with our own racism.

When posed face to face with our own indoctrinated racism, we become either fragile or arrogant as a defense mechanism. We become so hurt that someone could possibly think we're racist, that our own feelings of offense and indignation take precedents over eliminating racism—in all of its forms.

Nevertheless, as the venerable Angela Davis said, "it is no longer enough to not be racist. It is time to be anti-racist." If we are not actively working to deconstruct racism, it means that we are complicit in its continuity. Anyone who idly stands by and allows something to continue is just as culpable as those who actively perpetuate it. This means that we as white people need to stop prioritizing our feelings over the eradication of racism and start acknowledging our racist indoctrination. This includes encountering the topic with some semblance of humility and compassion. If we're going to deconstruct racism, there are 5 fundamental elements that we need to understand.

The Fundamentals

  1. Racism requires power. Capitalism is where racism gets its power from. Chattel slavery was the scientific means through which capitalism was achieved. Effectively, the slave trade was the capital for capitalism. This is why you cannot have capitalism without racism. Racism is prejudice and/or discrimination with the power to enforce it thereby affecting the everyday lives of an entire race. Because Black people were the enslaved race, they have been systematically barred from gaining any institutional power.
  2. The aforementioned definition of racism is also why reverse racism does not exist. Prejudice and discrimination are not the same as racism. Black people can be prejudice and they discriminate. But they cannot be racist.
  3. Integration did not equal equality. In order for integration to equal equality, the system that Black people were integrated into would first have had to be equal. Black people were integrated into an unequal system and placed at the bottom of it.
  4. The white savior complex is an expression of racism manifested through endeavors like missionary work, international litigious processes, and the nonprofit industry. It is based on the idea that Black people lack sufficient ability to solve their own problems and ameliorate their own circumstances so they need white people to do it for them. There's nothing wrong with trying to make a difference in the world. But using Black suffering to make yourself feel relevant and better about yourself is also racist.
  5. We need to stop trying to use the dictionary definitions of racism to try and justify reverse racism. Dictionaries are written by universities that are part of the education system. As previously elucidated, the education system is a white supremacist institution. Ergo, dictionary definitions are created by white people. Allowing white people to define racism is like allowing sex offenders to define rape.

Further Educate Yourself

If we are interested in seeing an end to racism, we must remember that these five fundamentals of understanding racism are not a comprehensive outline to do so. As previously mentioned, racism is far too complex to be summed up in five points. However, these five points do provide a solid framework from which the impetus of understanding it better can proceed.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2019 Caleb Murphey


Caleb Murphey (author) from MInneapolis on March 20, 2019:

Brad Masters

I'm not interested in debating with willfully ignorant bigots who try to circumvent and justify every point with a distorted and myopic analysis of history coupled with inapplicable metaphors just so they can continue being racist without the discomfort that being racist brings. Either be willing to be a better human being or gtfo my article.

Brad on March 20, 2019:


"Racism requires power."

B: That power today is political, and how it works is to give a big divide to lure people to the party that is crying racism. It is like the saying that when your a hammer everything looks like a nail. Racism has been expanded, exploded, and made multi-dimensional by the people crying Racism.

It now longer covers just race issues, it is the hue and cry of any issue. Basically, if you disagree with someone on anything, you can be called a racist.


" Capitalism is where racism gets its power from. Chattel slavery was the scientific means through which capitalism was achieved. Effectively, the slave trade was the capital for capitalism. This is why you cannot have capitalism without racism"

B: That may have been true before the industrial revolution, but as technology has advanced, the need for slave laborers doesn't exist.

The end of the Civil War ended the patent use of slaves, and the Civil Rights Act 100 years later made more improvements to no slavery. After 1964 till now, the slavery issue has become a political issue. Even though there is more freedom and equality today than ever before, the political whip of racism continues to fly.

But the point is that capitalism today is not connected to slavery.


Racism is prejudice and/or discrimination with the power to enforce it thereby effecting the everyday lives of an entire race.

B: The entire race, I don't think so. In fact, it is capitalism that makes your statement false. Since Jackie Robinson broke into an all white sport, the bulk of professional sports today is reversed in race. Since MoTown in the 1960s the black musicians, singers and music industry is really just about music. The African Americans have profited from capitalism by taking their heritage of physical prowess and they have become very wealthy, very respected and no one really cares about their race. What their heritage didn't help them do was to make the same gains in sports, in the technological fields.


Because Black people were the enslaved race, they have been systematically barred from gaining any institutional power."

B: Enslaved Race, Systematically and Institutional power?

It is the political powers that will keep the blacks a virtual slave. It is like how a full grown elephant can't rip the stake they are tied to. It is because when they were young that stake was more than they could move, And after trying and trying they just give up, and when they are full grown they could easily rip out the stake and set themselves free.

That is what the politics of racism has done.



Caleb Murphey (author) from MInneapolis on March 20, 2019:

I will break it up. I've read Robyn D'angelo's paper on white fragility. I actually wrote a followup article to it called white arrogance.

ptosis from Arizona on March 19, 2019:

Please break up the monolithic first paragraph into smaller paragraphs. It is very hard to read all in a huge block like that. I click on this page because just yesterday and today I have watched a video and a link that I would like to share with you. I think it goes along the same lines with what you have written.

The first is a video @ 2:00 where she is reading off the intro of her book called 'White Fragility' and it's quite concise.


Which ties into the next link about how racism gets whites to support policies that hurt them.

"In Kansas [where voters have supported massive cuts to public services], for example, a number of very far-right people told me that they felt like minority school districts were taking all the state taxpayer money and buying party buses and having parties. And those tensions shaped policies that defunded schools or blocked immigration or cut health care services. So were the individual people racist? I don’t know. But the policy itself was shaped by racial tensions, and that, ultimately, dictated health outcomes across the board."


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