What We Miss When We Talk About Racism

September 22nd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

There's an intellectual dishonesty among the liberal class that assumes racism only exists in a specific region of the U.S., perpetuated by a specific group of Americans (i.e. working class conservatives in the South). But the reality of prejudice is that it knows no bounds, and part of the problem is often political, journalist Chris Arnade recently wrote on Twitter.

Arnade, who has traveled across the U.S. meeting voters from all walks of life, blasted this elitist conception of racism. In 12 tweets, he is setting the record straight.

Racism in the 2016 election.


There's no doubt that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has used racist rhetoric to play into frustrations about unemployment, immigration, and violent extremism — frustrations that are strongly pronounced in Republican, working class circles. He's attracted and enabled overtly racist supporters such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. And his rhetoric has clearly alienated black, Muslim, and Latino voters.

These are all facts. But these facts don't tell the full story. There's a difference between explicit and implicit prejudice; there's a difference between overt and covert racism. And while we might hear and read about examples of overt racism (for good reason), it's important not to ignore the existence of racism in other groups, including those that vocally condemn prejudice.


A 2000 analysis of racism in Los Angeles by Dr. Laura Pulido, a professor at the University of Southern California, concluded that "the prevailing conception [of racism is] overly narrow and restrictive” and “denies the spatiality of racism.” White flight is one manifestation of white privilege, "a highly structural and spacial form of racism," Pulido wrote.

Let's take another look at a particularly instructive quote in one of Arnade's tweets: "Here in the north, they smile to your face, then treat you just like garbage." While this quote might be referencing specific human behaviors, it's also broadly representative of how racism manifests itself. From cross burnings to displays of the Confederate flag, the type of racism associated with southern states is explicit. That's not necessarily the case in America's urban areas, where decades entrenched polices, from red-lining to insufficient funding of inner-city schools, produces outcomes that disproportionately hurt minorities without ever need to utter a racial slur.

RELATED: Chart Reveals the Problem With the Definition of Racism