Racism and the fear of offending others

Racism is a funny thing, even though few find the humor in it. Publicly, everyone rebukes its, yet privately most unwittingly endorse it while thinking, "I'm not a racist."

A friend of mine from the Midwest told me how he was talking to an acquaintance from Southern California. "I can't believe how the Midwest and South treat African-Americans. It's a disgrace." The enlightened Californian followed that with, "All these damn wetbacks are ruining America." Of course, the man didn't think what he said was racist because in his mind racism is only between blacks and whites; plus, he was simply "stating the truth" about Hispanics.

Comedians like Richard Pryor and Dave Chapelle made a living pointing out the absurdity of the racism that all groups practice. By shining the light on the imbecilic nature of racism, they actually did more to promote a dialogue and understanding than any politician can dream of, including Barack Obama.

It is by pointing to our behaviors in a farcical manner that allows us to safely examine our behavior. When someone is preaching to us about tolerance and how evil we secretly are, we tend to become defensive and shut out what that person is saying, even when they have an excellent point. This, and the fear of offending others, is why so many "dialogues on race" fail.


Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside.