CNN published an interesting article in December 2014 entitled The new threat: ‘Racism without racists.’
The rather lengthy article deals with the failure of any meaningful “national conversation on race,” noting that “such conversations rarely go anywhere: Whites and racial minorities speak a different language when they talk about racism, scholars and psychologists say.”
The article begins with the presentation of a classic study on race in which psychologists stage an experiment using two sets of photographs.
Two white men are shown in the first photo with one man holding a knife, the other with no weapon. In the second photo a white man with a knife is shown confronting an unarmed black man. When both blacks and whites were asked to identify the man with the knife in both photos, most of them correctly identified the man in the first photo but incorrectly identified the black man in the second as the one with the knife.
CNN notes that “The knife fight experiment hints at the language gap. Some whites confine racism to intentional displays of racial hostility. It’s the Ku Klux Klan, racial slurs in public, something ‘bad’ that people do,” adding that:
But for many racial minorities, that type of racism doesn’t matter as much anymore, some scholars say. They talk more about the racism uncovered in the knife fight photos — it doesn’t wear a hood, but it causes unsuspecting people to see the world through a racially biased lens.
CNN goes on to report that a Duke University sociologist calls this “racism without racists.”
The professor, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, who has also writtten an article by that title, says it’s a new way of maintaining white domination in places like Ferguson.
The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits.
The more we assume that the problem of racism is limited to the Klan, the birthers, the tea party or to the Republican Party, the less we understand that racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.
CNN adds that
As people talk about what the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson means, Bonilla-Silva and others say it’s time for Americans to update their language on racism to reflect what it has become and not what it used to be.
Possibly it’s time for the Tea Party and Republicans to address those very issues within their own organizations, particularly in light of the observation by Bonilla-Silva connecting them with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.