Have you been called racist lately?

So what do you do if in the midst of a debate someone up and calls you a racist? I've had a handful of occasions now where I've been called a racist or I've been accused of making racist statements. Now I'm not stupid. I'm well aware that the one and only reason for crying "racist" in a discussion is to put your opponent on the defensive. Hopefully you will side track them from whatever argument they were making onto the track of proving that they are most definitely not racist. A fine tactic if you don't have any intelligent responses to make to a person's argument. Racist seems to have come to mean for some people "someone that I disagree with."

This tactic works best on well meaning white folk who genuinely want to engage in legitimate discussion about race in America. By legitimate discussion I mean something other than the usual "everything that has gone wrong in the black community is the fault of racism and racist white people." Something other than discussions where the white folk meekly allow coals to be heaped on their heads for all of the wrongs they have done to black folk.

Let someone say something that rubs a black person the wrong way and it's on. Suddenly accusations of racist and racism are flying faster than a speeding bullet. And most intelligent well meaning white folk are simply horrified that they might have offended a "person of colour." Then they go all apologetic often stumbling over themselves trying to prove that they aren't racists. The result? Intelligent discussion ceases. White folk become afraid to say anything of substance in discussions on race because they want to avoid the label of racist.

This kind of thing really annoys me when it's done to me but it makes me see red when it's done to others. It leaves people who could contribute something useful to the discussion afraid to speak up. There is no reason, absolutely no good reason, why I should get comments like this,

"I must say that in discussing these things I feel like a fish out of water, being a white man. My biggest fear is that I will inadvertently offend someone that I would never want to offend by saying something idiotic."

Calling someone a racist in order to shut down a discussion is about as low as one can get in public discourse. As I said before, it is the refuge of someone who doesn't really have anything constructive to bring to the discussion. There most certainly are racists in this country but they usually don’t bother to engage in discussions about how to help black people over come the obstacles that they still face.

So what do I do if someone calls me a racist? I say put up or shut up. If you're going to call me a racist or claim that something I say is racist you best be ready to back it up. Don’t expect me to meekly back away because you use the "r" word. You will not score easy points in discussion with me by trotting out that accusation.


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