Racism and sexism are becoming ever more complicated these days. “Accusations fly everywhere, sometimes over words that to you seemed completely innocent,” writes the Manhattan Contrarian. But just in time to save you from unjust accusations, comes Francis Menton to the rescue.
The Manhattan Contrarian has put together a quiz for readers. For each of his examples, you must answer True or False on whether you think these statements are Racist or Sexist. Each statement is either an actual quotation or a hypothetical fact situation.
Fortunately, Mr. Menton also provides answers, so you can examine why you are, if you are, so far off the mark. From his list of ten:
Question #1: You say, “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” True or false this is Sexist or Racist?
• Answer to Question 1: Obviously, this is racist, and probably sexist as well. This statement demonstrates the “myth of meritocracy” and “assert[s] that race does not play a role in life successes.” It conveys the “message that “[p]eople of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.” (From “Examples of Racial Microaggressions,” published by the University of Minnesota, and adapted from Wing, et al., “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life,” American Psychologist, 62, 4, 271-286.)
Question #2: Teacher “polices the language” of students in class, and insists that they do not curse. True or false this is Sexist or Racist?
• Answer to Question 2: Obviously racist, at the very least. “If the student was raised in an environment where swearing wasn’t viewed as a transgression, it can be difficult for them to find a way to communicate emotionally and intellectually in the classroom. Teachers should consider the intent behind each student phrase. An unengaged student may express frustration by saying, “I don’t give a shit about this class!” In this case, empathy is a more useful tool than strict discipline. The last thing this student needs is an infraction that would remove them from the classroom and further alienate them from their own learning.” (From Aaron Baker, “3 racial microaggressions that teachers commit every day,” January 11, 2018 at upworthy.com.)
Question #3: “Dumbass fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants. #CancelWhitePeople.” .” True or false this is Sexist or Racist?
• Answer to Question 3: Neither racist nor sexist. You may recognize this quotation as coming from the tweets of one Sarah Jeong, new member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. From Inkoo Kang at slate.com, August 2, 2018: “Jeong’s tweets were clearly jokes, not policy proposals. When people of color rail against white people, that’s often shorthand for speaking out against the existing racial structure that serves to keep white people in power. The jokes that people of color make at the expense of whites are furthermore not supported by past and present state and corporate institutions. A white American telling an Asian American to “go back to where you came from,” for instance, isn’t the same as an Asian American saying the same to a white American, even if neither individual can claim ancestral roots as America’s first residents. To claim otherwise is to be blind to the history and social dynamics of this country.”
Question #4: You ask a new acquaintance, “Where are you from?” or “Where were you born?” True or false this is Sexist or Racist?
• Answer to Question 4: Clearly racist when addressed to any foreigner, particularly an Asian or Latino American. Your “theme” is that the subject of the question is an “alien in [her] own land,” while your message is “You are not an American. You are a foreigner.” Really, how could you? (From the UMN list of Racial Microaggressions linked in the Answer to Question 1.)
Question #9: “Son, when I appoint a n***er to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a n***er.”
• Answer to Question 9: Nothing remotely racist here. This is a famous quote from President Lyndon Johnson, relating to his appointment of Thurgood Marshall, the first black justice, to the Supreme Court (quoted in Robert Caro’s 2003 biography, “Master of the Senate”). As stated in Newsweek, January 12, 2018, immediately after citing the quotation, “Johnson is often credited as one of the most consequential presidents with respect to civil rights, having signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”
Question #10: “Look at my African-American over there!” True or false this is Sexist or Racist?
• Answer to Question 10: Definitely racist. This quote is from a statement made by President Trump at a rally during the 2016 campaign. It has been widely cited as prime evidence of President Trump’s racism, including here at CNN, and here at Newsweek (in a list of Trump’s “racist” comments).
In order to stay securely within the bounds of civilized discourse, go here to read the remaining questions (spoiler: Questions 6, 7, and 8 are doozies.):