I wrote this after a discussion in Freshman English during which the professor and an African-American girl decided to gang up on me (well, they tried at least) and spin the old liberal yarn that “minorities” can’t be racist. The professor flippantly challenged me to write a paper defending my position (and, I’m guessing, not expecting me to, as he was quite shocked when I walked into his office and handed what follows to him the very next day). He handed it back with all sorts of fallacious arguments and a few ad-hominem attacks, claiming it was a “diatribe.” Quality education. At least most of my professors weren’t as close-minded and completely idiotic as this guy.
First off, I would like to challenge the point that English is not a race. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language College Edition defines race as “any geographical, national, or tribal ethnic grouping.” I rest my case.
Your challenge to me specifically to write an essay arguing in favor of the idea that only people in superior positions of society can be racist has got to be one of the most ignorant things I have ever heard a teacher say. Yes, an open mind is one of the signs of intelligence but for me to argue that only white people can be racist makes less sense than arguing that Hitler was justified in sending six million Jews to the gas chambers. At least some evidence can be twisted around to show that Jews did cause economic strife in 1920’s Europe. There is not a shred of evidence indicating that blacks, Chinese, Mexicans, etc. are incapable of being racist toward whites.
Secondly, I would like to strongly protest your idea that the only people who can be racist are those who are in a position of power over the race they are racist toward. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language College Edition defines racism as “racialism.” “Racialism” is defined by the same source as “a doctrine or feeling of racial differences or antagonisms, especially with reference to supposed racial superiority, inferiority, or purity; racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination.” The portion of this definition I would like to concentrate on most is “racial prejudice.” This means prejudging someone solely on his or her race. If this is the case, and according to Webster and me, it is, then anyone can be racist. The black girl in our class who commented that she could have “black pride” but that I could not have “English pride” is a consummate example of a racist. (N.B. she is black!) For the sole reason that I was descendent from Anglo-Saxons, she felt I had no right to have pride in my heritage. She, on the other hand, is allowed to be proud of her African heritage. This is known as a double standard and this particular double standard is just as racist as many classic double standards of pre-1960s Southern US. I refer to blacks having to sit at the rear of the bus, blacks not being allowed to sit at lunch counters, blacks not being allowed to vote, etc. Back in the days I referred to blacks did not feel pride in their heritage. The “doll experiment” you referred to is a perfect example. Thanks to figures like Martin Luther King Jr., though, blacks now feel pride for their heritage. Does it seem fair now that they should be the only ones allowed to feel this pride? Shouldn’t people of European descent be able to feel pride as well? Shouldn’t Irish be able to have a parade every St. Patrick’s Day? Shouldn’t Germans be able to hold similar festivities during Oktoberfest?
Don’t feel bad about your German heritage, Dr. Weihe. Germans may have caused two of the most horrible wars in the history of this planet but they also did many good things too. They make great cars. They invented Hot Dogs and Hamburger. They gave the English language many great words. Without the help of Werner Von Braun, a great German scientist, there never would have been a man on the moon in 1969. Martin Luther was a German and I am grateful to him for leading the Protestant Reformation. And who could live without the music of Bach. The list goes on and on and not just with German accomplishments but with Chinese accomplishments, English accomplishments, Ethiopian accomplishments, Inca accomplishments, Basque accomplishments, etc., etc. One would be hard pressed to find a culture that has not contributed something to Earth’s population. Everyone should take pride in whatever culture he or she is descended from. That is one of the things that makes America the greatest country on Earth. You can eat Chinese food for dinner and go to an Italian Opera one night then the next night you can eat Ethiopian food and go to a didjeridu concert. Even though English is the common language of America; traveling coast to coast you could hear every language on earth from Indonesian to Navajo and Aleut to Portuguese. If we do not take pride in our individual heritages, they will soon die. Imagine how boring that would be. Plus, if we all try so hard to be “color blind” we will not be directing our efforts toward more creative endeavors.