I have come across this pernicious argument more than a few times now, and lately from Donald Trump and the “Hercules” actor Kevin Sorbo who appeared on Fox News yesterday to make the same point. The argument goes this way, that those who complain about Tea Party racism should direct their anger at what is the real racism: the fact that over 95% of black people voted for President Obama in 2008.
And there I was thinking that I live in a country that speaks English as its first language.
So here it goes, the real problem with that really pernicious argument: racism is defined as “the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination.” I’ll break it down: racism is deciding that someone should NOT get something that everyone has access to, just because of the colour of their skin.
So, here again is a reason why it is less likely that it is racist that Obama was voted overwhelmingly into the White House by an overwhelming black vote: by the time he was voted as president, he was the first person of his race ever to get that close to a position that had been dominated for hundreds of years by people of a certain race.
I’ll make another analogy. Imagine these scenarios.
A: There is a school somewhere in the world which for four hundred years had admitted only people of a certain height/hair colour/dentition etc, and then one day, people who have for that period of time had been excluded from that process found a candidate that qualified as an outsider and was overwhelmingly supported – along with other support from the people who hitherto had that privilege. The student shorter than the average height requirement/hair colour/dentition is finally admitted, and everyone is happy.
B: There is a school somewhere in the world in which only one shorter/different-hair-coloured/wrongly-dentitioned student was recently admitted after about four hundred years. He is about to be removed by an overwhelming majority of the “establishment” regular people for no other reason that made sense, or had been applied for other “regular” people up until then.
Now, here is my conclusion. There is absolutely no evidence from the above to show that there is racism in any of the two scenarios A and B. Perhaps.
It is MUCH LESS LIKELY racist that an underdog is collectively SUPPORTED to get equal opportunity, than that an underdog is collectively DENIED access to equal opportunity. And this is where Sean Hannity, Hercules, Donald Trump, and all the others got it wrong.
And here is one more thing. There is a clear difference between racial and racist politics. It is racial politics to vote for someone on the basis of their skin colour, but not necessarily racist. It is however clearly racist (as well as racial) to try to remove someone from a position because of their skin colour. The difference is the harm inherent in only one of them.
And here is one more thing I found on a Youtube comment: “black (and other minority) people, until 2008, have voted 100% for white candidates.” How racist is that?