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No, Not Everything is Racism

Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez

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Racism isn’t what many seem to think it is. The word has been stretched and pulled, expanded and homogenized to fit a great many things. It’s been made to mean “racial,” and the two are essentially different in at least one vital way: Racism contains the contemptible component of inferiority; racial does not.

Racial refers to physical, cultural and ethnic characteristics of races and ethnicities, often manifesting itself in stereotypes. Stereotypes are common characteristics observed over time. They aren’t negative in and of themselves—unless they’re applied negatively. That said, generally I avoid them because they can be hurtful without being racist.

For example, I’m Italian and Irish. I have a Roman nose. It’s prominent. And it’s part of my DNA from my Italian father. It’s one of my racial characteristics, and it’s stereotypical. If someone were to say of me, “He’s got a big nose—I wonder if he’s Italian,” they’d be applying a stereotype. The comment wouldn’t be racist; it would be racial because it lacks antagonism and/or application of inferiority. It could still hurt or offend me, but it doesn’t because I like my Roman nose.

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Here’s another personal example: A friend’s mother, after meeting me for the first time, warned him to be careful with me because, “Italians, they steal, son.” She applied a negative stereotype that’s based on cultural characteristics depicted by Hollywood—AND in real life. Italians DO steal, but so do people of other races and ethnicities.

I once witnessed two Italians in Naples drive up on a moped, one hop off and enter a parked car and extract its radio, hop back on the escape scooter, and ride off—all in about 20 seconds. I found myself admiring their efficiency. It’s like they were German, not Italian.

Stereotypes, not racism

My friends mom’s mistake was in misapplying a stereotype. She didn’t denigrate my ethnicity or lower it below hers, she simply stereotyped me unfairly—and racially. She wasn’t being racist. Nor did what she say imply inferiority. That said, I admit that I don’t know the worst of racism; I simply don’t have that experience.

How many times do we read about someone using a stereotype to describe another’s race or ethnicity and who’s tarred and feather as a racist for it? Again, using stereotypes can be hurtful and can offend, but doing so isn’t always racist.

Who’s a fan of The Office? Remember when Michael Scott does his Ping routine? He uses hurtful and offensive stereotypes involving slant-eyed glasses, buckteeth and speech. It’s clearly cringe-worthy and would never fly today (and shouldn’t), but is it racist? Is Michael Scott racist?

Meaning means everything

Words have meaning. They mean what they mean and altering and expanding them based on culture or politics or ideology is a recipe for turning them into bombs. Is racist an umbrella word for racial? No, both are unique words with unique meanings. It’s just that one is being used as a weapon to malign and cancel.

I say we take more care to understand words and their meaning and that we resist slinging them like stones and lobbing them like grenades. I say also that we fight real racism with clear heads and full hearts. Let’s make love our byword. After all, it’s the best of all words and, thankfully, one with a meaning that never changes.

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Patrick grew up in Texas and graduated from the University of North Texas with a master’s degree in journalism and advertising. His undergraduate degree is in English and photography. He served six years in the U.S. Navy where his life was changed forever by the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California with his wife, dog and two cats. He enjoys hiking and cycling, taking pictures, writing and blogging at https://luscri.com/



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News

Are Cops Racist or Victims of a New Revolution?

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Photo credit: Clay Banks

Racism or revolution? It’s a fair question in any honest assessment of our current chaos. Cop shoots black man, people cry racism, protests turn into lawless looting and destruction. What isn’t talked about is the key to the entire mess—personal responsibility. And what lurks in the background is a new revolution.

First, who’s responsible for George Floyd’s death? Daunte Wright’s? One could say former Officers Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, respectively, but this would be lazy thinking and dishonest. Here’s a better question: Who’s responsible for their lives?

Before we poke the hornet’s nest, let’s consider facts.

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Both men had criminal records. Both were known by local police. One was an addict; the other had a warrant out for his arrest. Both men chose to commit crimes; George Floyd tried to pass off a counterfeit bill; Daunte Wright illegally possessed a firearm. He also drove with an expired license plate. Keeping one’s vehicle current is a basic responsibility for all licensed drivers. Wright failed to do so, which led to his being pulled over. This is when he made his fatal choice.

Choices and consequences

Imagine yourself in his situation. An officer is arresting you. Your choices are: A) allow yourself to be handcuffed or B) break free and get back into your car or run or fight or anything other than acquiesce to arrest. Any rational and honest person has to know that he alone is responsible for his actions. Everyone is responsible for his or her choices—personally responsible. 

What did Daunte choose to do? He chose flight. This triggered the arresting officers, which prompted Officer Potter to use what she says she thought was her taser in order to subdue Wright. The fact that she used her firearm and then expressed shock and dismay afterwards indicates incompetence, not racism.

George Floyd and Daunte Wright chose to commit the crimes that invited police attention. They had criminal records because they chose to be criminals. They alone bear responsibility for setting the stage for negative interaction with law enforcement. We can debate the culpability of the officers, and a jury is deciding whether Derek Chauvin is guilty of anything more than excessive force.

They may find him guilty of much more, but the inconvenient truth for Black Lives Matter is that George Floyd and Daunte Wright would likely both be alive today had they not chosen to commit crimes. Their lives would truly matter because they’d be alive to make better choices. They could choose to become ex-criminals.

Personally irresponsible

In any era prior to our present age of victimhood and “systemic racism,” both men would bear personal responsibility for making choices that led to their deaths. This is not to say that Derek Chauvin isn’t guilty of manslaughter or murder.

The truth is that George Floyd and Daunte Wright and Michael Brown and others are solely responsible for their life choices—especially those that put them at odds with law enforcement. We all are. Rather than confront this truth, opportunists (and true believers) cry racism. The reality is that the vast majority of police aren’t any more racist than you or I. Many are simply weary and wary of the same people saying the same things in order to avoid personal responsibility. And now they’re called racists and badgered and beaten down as they try to do their jobs.

The beatdown manifests itself in rising crime and resistance to arrest, anti-cop antagonism, calls for defunding, accusations of racism, vilification and worse. Our legal system, which also isn’t racist, found no truth in claims like, “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” Sadly, race hustlers like Al Sharpton and the Black Lives Matter founders have weaponized these words to further an agenda that doesn’t help the people they claim to champion. They seem more interested in self-enrichment and political change than in equality.

The revolution

The Black Lives Matter grifters value equity over equality and revolution in place of our republic. Black “victims” of police racism and brutality are mere pawns in a new race war as the means to their end—a Marxist Utopia. Hatred, chaos and division are their weapons.

Why do we see looters presented as peaceful protesters by corrupt media? Why do young white anarchists participate in BLM protests after police shootings of black suspects and criminals? It’s opportunity.

What better way to usher in a new reality than with a new revolution? America rebelled against an English tyrant because of inequities involving class and representation. Because America was built on visions of equality, freedom and the merits of hard work and opportunity, class warfare has no legs here. Race is the ticket. Marxists tried it in the ’60s, but were thwarted by reform. Inadvertently, an entire ethnic group in America were turned into victims and semi-wards of the state.

The result? Critical Race Theory, white privilege, reparations, the vilification of police, and reverse racism against “white” people. The racist oppressors are our justice system and law enforcement. According to the revolutionaries, slavery is our original sin, and we have yet to fully repent of it.

In reality, we’ve made great steps toward equality. America is like any other republic—flawed and imperfect. America is also a beautiful experiment in self-governance. Rather than transform it, we should hold one another responsible for our choices and encourage each other toward unity and true equality.

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Life

Quick Movie Reviews

Here is a look at three current movies

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Here is a look at three current movies, two worth seeing, and one that is a misfire:

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

This forgettable movie, nominated for several Oscars no less, is as revolting as its regrettable title, surprising for a film produced by Denzel Washington. The makeup and wardrobe to make Viola Davis look 40 pounds heavier and decades older is ridiculous.

The first 20 minutes of the film is nearly unwatchable, like a bad Eugene O’Neill play, all staged-dialogue, in one room. As the braggadocio horn player, the non-stop banter by the late Chaz Boseman, to whom the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will posthumously award an Oscar, is simply irritating.

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The use of blatant stereotypes – black and white – in this ‘woke era’ is mindboggling: Ma’s white manager is a milquetoast, the recording studio owner is exploitative, the Klansmen (only referred to in a soliloquy by Bozeman) vicious, Ma’s niece is promiscuous, the black band members are accommodating, etc.

The United States vs Billie Holiday

This film is surprising. On par with Renée Zellweger in Judy, singer Andra Day in the title role, is quite convincing. Along with Carrie Mulligan, in Promising Young Woman, I think she shares the lead for the best female actor award.

As with four of the other nominated movies for the April 25 telecast, in arguably the worst line-up in Oscar history, the upshot is the same: All white men are bad, all black people are exploited.

Rose Plays Julie

This is a little-known movie that deserves a larger audience. A young woman finds her birth mother, then decides to track down her ignominious father.

Without giving away the story, the film proceeds at a slow pace, but it’s not boring in the least: it is quiet and intriguing, and I recommend it.

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