Sadly, Tolerance Does Not Equal “Not Racist”

Racism is not only hate-based, it’s fear-based.  People usually fail to grasp this realization.  The fear is what buttresses the hate, so technically the fear can exist without conscious actions of hatred.  Because of this, there are many people out in the world who think they are not racist because of outward behavior control yet support racist practices, actions, or institutions because of a fear of non-white peoples.  So, allow me to introduce what I learned from my uncle.

My uncle tolerates animals (cats, dogs, etc.) but he is not 100% comfortable around them because you see; they are animals.  And animals aren’t like people.  Animals are liable to be calm one minute but then scratch, claw, or sink their teeth in you the next minute.  Animals are found wild but can be domesticated, tamed, or become feral.  Animals are overall unpredictable, mindless, impulsive, and can easily hurt you.

When cats approach my uncle, he gets tense and nervous.  When they touch him he freaks out.  Any fast movement on their part and he reacts fearfully.  Consciously he knows cats are harmless because he’s surrounded by them and they pay him no mind.  But subconsciously he can’t relax around them because he’s sociologically programmed to see them as threats.

Cops react to black males–and to a lesser but still horribly fatal extent, women–the same way.

So sadly, being tolerant does not equal being devoid of racist tendencies.  To tolerate something, denotes the acceptance of some form of diminishment; I tolerate someone sitting on my car’s hood while waiting around in the apartment complex.  I tolerate second-hand smoke.  I tolerate noisy neighbors.  So while a cop may tolerate black people, that doesn’t mean that that cop isn’t holding subconscious racial biases which usually ends up with a faster trigger finger with black people than any other group of people in the world.  In the video of (ex)Officer Sean Groubert shown above, I have reason to believe that he would exercise a faster reaction time with an unarmed black man (which, is sadly illustrated by his actions) then he would any invading Russian, Chinese, of ISIL fighter.  Why?  Because he only TOLERATES black people.  When conservatives speak on liberals being racist as well they often miss the mark, but this is the type of racism they are talking about.  To tolerate denotes to accept something that you wish you didn’t have to.  To tolerate something means a temporary and often conditional acceptance.  And of course, Civil Rights should be unconditional.

This is what those with white privilege don’t get; it’s not just conscious control of outward behavior, it’s the subconscious programming due to sociological engineering.  The good news is that this programming can be reversed.  But first, one needs to stop pretending that subconscious biases don’t exist.

Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud
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