What Does It Take For Someone To Admit They Are Racist?

Racism is defined as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

This is not the end all for definitions, but it seems to be a common one. I'm assuming by now that everyone has heard about the statements that Michael Richards made a few days ago. For a recap click here and look towards the bottom of the page. He used the "N Word" repeatedly and made graphic references to lynching black people.

Richards appeared on David Letterman and apologized and stated that he was not a racist and that it was an angry outburst in response to some hecklers who were black. Well, maybe he doesn't think he is a racist, but let me end the speculation. He is a racist. Pure and simple. No two ways about it.

The pain and suffering, death, and injury suffered by African-Americans in this country during slavery, Reconstruction and beyond is enormous. The pain still lingers. We go on with our lives, but there is enormous pain. I cannot do justice to this topic here in this post, but I had to at least say it.

Any person who fondly harks back to the days where black people, mostly black men were routinely tortured and murdered is hateful. He said it was a mistake. I'm sure it was a mistake that he said it out loud, but that is obviously how he feels at least on some level. I hope that he will acknowledge how he feels and really think about it. If Richards wants to change, he needs to own up to his racism to conquer it.

I've been a big fan of Seinfeld for a long time. I have most of the DVDs and really enjoyed the character Kramer. It's all tainted now.



From the whole spectrum of beliefs and attitudes that pervade the human spirit, I think that racism must be the most irrational.

If history didn't demonstrate how dangerous racism can be, we could probably just dismiss the racists as the worlds biggest idiots.

Alas though, racism has been, and still is, the source of great cruelty. It also encourages the domination of one race by another.

Any right minded person will always find it abhorrent.

suttonhoo said…
well said, Anali.

I'm fascinated (in a horrified way) by the way racism influences human affairs -- heard a guy last night on C-Span talking about the way racism acts as a predictor of voting preferences (he just wrote a book -- I'll see if I can dig up a title). I think, at the root, racists live in a world where they're jockeying for position -- and defining whole groups of people as inferior in their own mind is one way to cut to the front of the line in a hurry.

we need to talk about racism more -- and the hierarchies and power plays that it implies. it's still with us, and it still influences the way our world works. it's so horrible to talk about, but we need to do it.

I'm glad you wrote about it here.
Dezel Quillen said…
Hello Anali,

I could probably ramble awhile on the subject matter, but it is just a painful fact of life. Less painless however, is that I choose not to think much or entertain the much astray and immoral path of the bigot.

What this knave repeatedly yelled, with all his heart and soul did not surprise me. This is not new and should not be taken as such. A sprinkling of racism lives in everyone, granted some people are sprinkled better than others. Like a clown with a painted on smile, racism is buried upon layers and layers of fake smiles and smirks. Some peoples trigger points are shallower than others however. Some people actually applauded Richards, and took it all in jest and good humor. Others thought it was well justified for the remarks made by the heckler(s). Oddly enough it has been pointed out that it was not an Afro American (lol …I love that one) that initiated the heckling to begin with. (This is not fact however)

Whatever Richard’s is serving, it is just not a palatable dish, and we do not have to patronize the shop where the dish comes from. I’m actually happy about it all; at least he removed his hood for all to see. Now we know who he really is, he showed his soul and said ‘hey America this is me’.

BTW, I have never seen an episode of Kramer and likely never will.

Have a great holiday 

Happy Sipping!

jac said…
anali, I am a nigger and I am proud to be called as one.

To hell with that rascal Richard or what ever he calls himself.

He doesn't deserve a second look, let alone an answer. He is not the first one to do it and he is not going to be the last.

We have many Richards lurking around the globe in different attire; different shape and even some of them bark just for whatever publicity they can get out of it.
Why do you forget to mention about them looting our history too when they enslaved and robbed us ?

Perhaps Richard has never heard of Dr. Spencer Wells. Let him check his roots first.

I want to know what he is so proud about ?

I don't watch television plays much, so I am lucky that I won’t stumble up on idiot like him of the worst kind.

I have this URL of my previous post, to stuff in his mouth which has further links

And if his mouth is wide enough to accommodate more, here are a number of URL’s that can be stuffed in, to make him realize his ignorance.


I thank my buddys who supported and commented before me on this post... not forgetting to thank anali, my fav cousin.

Thanks, anali !
Lisa Johnson said…
something from me - I agree that racism is so illogical that it is almost silly, but there is too much danger with it, so it cannot be ignored.

suttonhoo - I have heard about the issue of race with voting. This was one of the reasons why even with the polls, I was still nervous about the Patrick win. I read something that said that many times non-blacks will state in a poll that they will vote for a black candidate, but that when it comes time for the election, they won't vote for them.

I was very glad to see that this type of thinking was no longer the case this year. As much as racism is still a problem, I do believe that there has been great progress.

dezel - I love this comment!

"Whatever Richard’s is serving, it is just not a palatable dish, and we do not have to patronize the shop where the dish comes from."

You put it so eloquently - and in food terms no less! It's true that now at least we know where he stands. And it is always better to know the truth.

jac - My cousin, I have to disagree with you here. I hate the N word!! I don't like to write it; say it; see it; or hear it. And I don't consider myself one.

I know some black people have "taken back" the word and embraced it in a new form. I can't do it. The word has too much history. It's too venom-filled. It felt like a slap in the face when someone called me one.

I was on the train the other day and a bunch of black kids were talking a bunch of foolishness really loudly as many kids do, but they were using the word every minute.

I just wanted to scream at them to stop, but they wouldn't have understood and it wouldn't have done any good. Oh well. I guess we all deal with the word differently, but that is my take.
Mosilager said…
Hopefully racism gets lower with the each generation and Michael Richards gets some therapy for harbouring such views.

It's very sad to hear, but maybe some good will come out of it if some racists can look at themselves and realise that nobody should be discriminated against. How many of the people at the comedy club agreed with him initially?
jac said…
Anali, nor do I like it to be called as a name.

Africa lost the history when they made us slaves.
They burned it long ago.

The word "Negrito" is the Spanish diminutive of Negro, i.e. "little Black", and was given by early European invaders and explorers who thought that the Negritos were from Africa.

I consider it in that meaning only.

Yes, I am an African and I live in Africa fortunately and I am sure that you will also come once to settle here.

With apologies for consuming your space and the negative argument.
Margie said…
Hi anali
Too bad that is how he really is!
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving...
I am so stuffed from all the yummies we had!

Nance said…
anali--My deep gratitude for my parents is renewed by your post. I was raised in a household of tolerance and love; one where any negative term for one's race or national origin was treated as a curse word. I raise my boys the same way. We decry the "n" word along with using the word "gay" to describe anything negative. We also never say anyone "fights like a girl" or "throws like a girl"--both my sons have dated outstanding girl athletes who belie these descriptions. When will people embrace the pride of everyone's differences? Let's at least give Michael Richards one credit: he has not fallen into the Hollywood or Washington D.C. trap of blaming his outburst on drugs or alcohol or some childhood trauma. He has at least apologized, as weak as it was. Yes, he's shown his racism. But now, there may be hope.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - I do hope some good will come of it. I figured I needed to do my part and give my point of view and hopefully generate discussion to further inform more people.

I think we have done that by opening the discussion. And for this, thank you everyone for your comments!

jac - No need to apologize cousin! By disagreeing, we dig deeper into the issue. And I definitely do want to visit Africa one day. It would be nice if I had enough information to try and find where my ancestors came from.

samuru999 - It is a shame. I had a great Thanksgiving and glad you did too!

nance - I agree that everything starts at home. When you hear children saying hateful things, it's pretty much because at home they were taught that this was okay or because the kids picked this stuff up elsewhere and were not corrected by their parents.

And it's so true about our differences. That's what keeps life from being boring!
Anonymous said…
Hahaha...i wasn't being racist but there was one time when I was having exam on Introduction to Chinese Language...I turned to my friend and said : Shit, I hate Chinese!

What I meant was I hate Mandarin. And he turned to me and went..."you racist!"

...(this may be out of topic) which then lead me to one of this event where my Chinese speaking friends (they don't really know English but it is understandable)and I were chatting and I asked one of them what religion is he and he said:

"I'm a Buddha..."

What he meant was he's a Budhist and boy, we all had a great laugh.
jac said…
anali, I do hope to guide you if I am alive at that time.

Just don’t hesitate to ask me to accompany you. It would be my pleasure to help my favorite cousin.
Gunfighter said…
What will it take for someone to
admit that s/he is a racist?

Honesty. Problem is... most people can't be honet with themselves when it comes to racism.
I agree with you Anali. When I saw the entire clip that someone took with their cell phone I was horrified. Some of the media coverage reduced the story to him shouting the "n" word at a heckler. Bad, but not as bad as it was. The full story, and where Richard's comments were revealed as clearly coming out of a place of genuine hatred, out of Richardson's heart and soul, was his comment about lynching in response to the person in the audience who said that he was out of line. Really, the whole dialogue between Richards and the audience member telling him his comments were fucked up shows how clearly Richards felt hatred. After I saw the cell phone clip I was sickened and disgusted that anyone would broadcast / print his apology without some kind of real action on Richard's part. And apologizing to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton doesn't cut it. Though I agree with Jackson that Richards needs some race sensibility training AND psychiatric help. Clearly, his racial prejudice is being amplified by some personal freakish delusion anger ego mania self-pity wackoness. ~ jennifer
Lisa Johnson said…
avila - Sounds to me like you were just frustrated with your language lessons...

jac - When I get over there, I'll let you know. I'm not sure what country I'll be in though.

gunfighter - That is true. Nobody really wants to admit it, because they know it's wrong.

imagined-community - I read today that Richards is getting counseling and I guess he'll be appearing on Jesse Jackson's radio show. This ought to be interesting.

I still can't cut him any slack at this point. His newly hired publicist is the one telling him to do this stuff. His publicist is good. The right people have been contacted. We'll see what happens, but no matter what I will never forget that he made those comments about lynchings.
Mosilager said…
I'd like to leave a shameless plug to visit Zambia then :) you can bungee jump 111m into the Zambezi. No offense to Nigeria, Jac.
Lisa Johnson said…
mosilager - Zambia would be great too, but I'll pass on the bungee jump! The "Bug jump" was enough for me! Have you done it?
Mosilager said…
yes! and I have a certificate to prove it... it says something like "this is to certify that Ranjit Warrier momentarily lost the plot and jumped 111m into the Zambezi with nothing but a rope tied to his ankles."

If you watch about 10 people jumping and they are fine you just feel like doing it yourself... best feeling yet.
Lisa Johnson said…
Wow! You are quite the daredevil! I have a fear of heights, and just driving over a bridge is an accomplishment for me!
Mosilager said…
That was in the younger days, now I'm even scared to die in computer games so I don't play ;)

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