Comfortable Racism: What It Is & How to Handle It

As many of you know, I have a “Rant of the Day” segment on my blog that I try to do every month or so. As a little ‘behind the scenes’ action to how I come up with material for these, well… I just observe them in my everyday life. Any time I’m irritated, inconvenienced, enraged or impatient because of something, I jot it down in the Notes section of my phone to include in a later #ROTD post.

One of the things I’ve had on the list for a while? The term “comfortable racism.

But I got to thinking recently, and this doesn’t belong in a lighthearted, intended-to-be-humorous segment on ‘AA.’ This is more serious than that. This isn’t a pet peeve or a slight nuisance like folks who take 37 minutes to take money out of the ATM or people who don’t arrange their food on the grocery store conveyor belt thing to fit your stuff (seriously though, I HATE that). No. This topic doesn’t belong among fluffy silliness like that.

This gets its own post.

I don’t know that there’s a technical or official definition to the term “comfortable racism,” but to me — it’s the notion that a person feels so secure in their offensive and inappropriate thoughts about other people’s race that they feel empowered and content to outwardly share them with others.

In other words, if you’re like me, you incorrectly assumed that in 2017 racists would feel ashamed, embarrassed or uneasy sharing their racist beliefs and mindsets, but…nah. No, instead it seems as though something — or someone — has made them feel lately like it was OK. I’m not gonna name any names, though.

what? I didn’t write his name.

The first time I ever encountered something like this was many years ago at a job (NOT the one I have now) where a douchey, arrogant, wealthy male coworker saw my Gucci bag and bluntly stated, “Nice bag! I feel like Gucci recently became kind of a n*gger brand, though.” He then immediately followed it up with, “Right?”

Right?! Don’t you agree with my disgustingly racist comment?!?!

(I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear him say this — he once also called Barack Obama the “Anti-Christ” when he saw I was reading his book. #RollsEyesForever)

But this was the first time a person had interacted with me seeming all too comfortable expressing their distasteful and abhorrent commentary and THAT’S when I realized there were now two things to be furious about:

  1. The horrendously racist comment and term used, and -
  2. The fact that another person thought that I was someone they could say that to.

Well, he quickly learned I wasn’t.

It’s been about 8 years since that happened, and guess what? I didn’t stand for it then and I sure as shit don’t stand for it now.

These are some of — but certainly not all — the racist things men I’ve recently dated or gone out with have done or said in my company:

  • Questioning why the boardwalk in my town was so “dark” (AKA, a lot of non-white people there).
  • Asking me if I’d ever dated or hooked up with a black guy and when I said no, tried to high-five me.
  • Responded, “well, I’m kinda racist” when I told him I had ended things with ANOTHER guy for being racist. (Oh, well then. Good to know.)

I’ve listened to litanies arguing against the Black Lives Matter Movement and Affirmative Action. I’ve heard disparaging comments about Jews, Asians, Middle Easterners, Latinos and African Americans. I’ve heard comments about black people being criminals, lazy and uneducated. I’ve heard the N-word used like it was a term of endearment and therefore when I got mad they defended it like it was OK to use it that way — ya know, because they have black friends!

[Side note: read this thread on Twitter if you have time — it’s another woman’s story of comfortable racism in the dating world. Click HERE.]

The end result in every scenario you see above? I leave. I stop seeing these people. I get into heated debates and arguments and I stand up for my beliefs and what I feel is right, and then I leave.

That’s what you have to do in 2017 America where it’s become grossly apparent that the once closeted racists are now coming back out of the woodwork. And you don’t just encounter it in the world of dating; you see it in the news every day: swastikas on subways, offensive graffiti, a significant rise in hate crimes, racial epithets screamed at others in public, bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers, students and professional adults getting caught for despicable racism (remember the West Virginia official who publicly called Michelle Obama an “ape in heels?”)…I mean, the list goes on and on. You can read more HERE.

Hell, go to any article you read on the Internet and READ THE COMMENTS, for Christ’s sake.

So what can you and I do? We can’t ‘cure’ racism, sadly. But we CAN fight back and defend our stance when we find ourselves as witnesses to this stuff. We can let people know we’re not tolerating their ignorance and won’t stand for it. We can stand up for anyone we see being mistreated, harassed or threatened. We won’t just sit back idly and let people feel comfortable with their racism around us. We can unfriend and unfollow on social media and tell our “friends” exactly why we did. Where applicable, we can punish those for this kind of behavior; showing them there ARE repercussions for this ugly low-life behavior.

We don’t need to ‘Make America Great Again;’ we need to make racists afraid again.

Are you with me?

Sometimes writer. Born & raised New Yorker. Wannabe photographer. Social media junkie. Pop culture guru. Habitual line stepper.